Basic Criteria for Distributor Selection
When choosing a powder metal distributor, there are some basic and industry-specific questions to ask. Here are some tips on how to prioritize your selection criteria, starting with some basics:
- Are they used by competitors, or highly recommended by industry leaders?
- Are they known for their reliably excellent customer service?
- Are they known for timely delivery with appropriate packaging?
- Do they uphold the highest industry standards for quality and safety?
Industry-Specific Criteria for Distributor Selection
Additional criteria for choosing a powder metal distributor may vary by industry and organizational needs. Here are some examples of specific criteria that may be important to you in choosing a distributor:
- Are they local? Perhaps your organization has a preference for supporting local businesses. Local distributors are also easier to vet through word-of-mouth and through visiting a manufacturing site. Some people enjoy developing in-person relationships with distributors. Shipping costs can also be saved by picking up materials on-site or delivering across a short distance.
- Are they women or minority owned? This may be an important consideration for your organization, especially those operating with state or federal funding.
- Do they always (or nearly always) have the powder metals you need in stock? If you are going to make regular orders, this is an important consideration. If they don’t always have the powder metals you need in stock, how much lead time do they need to get them in stock again? Can you negotiate a discount for regular deliveries?
- Are they able to cover all your needs and provide a one-stop shopping kind of experience? It’s generally both easier and more economical to develop a relationship with a single distributor who is able to provide everything you and your organization needs. If your project needs a wide variety of different types of powder metal, which might change over time, you probably want to find a distributor who has a wide array of powder metals always available.
- Are they able to meet the specific packaging and certification requirements for your industry or organization? Do they have experience working with your industry or type of organization (e.g., automotive, military contractors, metallurgical researchers, electronics, aerospace)? For example, do they have experience meeting the special packaging requirements for delivery to a military site? Have they provided metallurgic researchers with additional data in the past on purity, physical characteristics, or constituent impurities?
Cost as a Final Consideration, and Distributor Score Cards
If you start with cost as your initial consideration, you could miss some important tradeoffs. For example, you usually pay more for materials ordered from a local, versus an international distributor, but you need to take all shipping (and the costs of waiting for an overseas shipment to arrive) into account to make a fair comparison. If a distributor charges more for materials, you may need to ask yourself if is worth paying a premium of some kind to work with a distributor that meets all of your key specifications, or one that provides exceptional customer service.
At this final stage of selection, it can be helpful to ask for competitive bids from the top two or three distributors you are interested in working with. They are used to pitching themselves to potential customers, and may surprise you with extra services or substantial discounts tailored to your specific needs and that push them ahead of the competition.
Larger organizations will often have two or three staff independently rate distributor bids using a scorecard that fairly represents the key selection criteria, with cost as just one consideration. This allows staff to evaluate distributors more objectively, and reasonably justify their final selection of a distributor to the wider organization.
Mayer Alloys stocks and supplies a full line of the highest quality, non-ferrous metals specializing in tin and lead-based alloys, and lead free alloys for manufacturing and/or fabrication. Buy what you want when you want it and we will ship your material the same day it is ordered in most cases.
Customer service and technical assistance is always available to ensure you are getting the right materials.