Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Volume 31 - Stowe Mountain Lodge Project

As our website,, states Independence2, LLC is very proud to announce our involvement, with two of our Distributor Partners, Mr. James Sandy, President of Total Resources, Niles, Ohio, and Mr. Lee Guterba, Owner of S.R.E., located in Columbiana, Ohio, who will be supplying most of the Division VIII products, on the Stowe Mountain Lodge project in cooperation with Hunt Construction Group, the General Contractor.

Destination Hotels & Resorts will manage this luxury lodge located at the base of Stowe Mountain Resort's Mount Mansfield, Vermont's highest peak. This lodge will feature stone, timber and forged iron work, and each guestroom will take advantage of the surrounding mountain vistas with large windows and oversized balconies. The lodge also includes shared ownership residences and will feature an 18-hole mountain golf course. Other amenities will include an upscale retail plaza, an outdoor ice skating rink and signature restaurants as well as a separate SPA facility expected to be a premier boutique feature of this property.

The Stowe Mountain Lodge project is another prime example, along with the IUPUI Student Center, of Independence2, LLC's Premier Distributor Partnerships Program, which pulls together various 'project work' to benefit Distributors and Independence2, LLC's other Partners and Industry Relationship Contacts, who would like to participate in bidtype project work in conjunction with the General Contractor, architect and design firm.

It seems to me that this is a perfect example of respecting and enhancing the supply chain. If you (as a reader of this issue) are a distributor within the commercial construction market, when is the last time a manufacturer/supplier presented you with an opportunity to enhance your business? If you are involve with architectural hardware, as a distributor - contract door hardware house or locksmith, and carry products like Falcon Lock, Schlage, Dor-O-Matic, Norton, LCN Closers, and Von Duprin, Global Door and others, how do you tolerate these manufacturers selling to the 'Big Box Houses'?

In my Blog, Volume 15 - 'Big Boxes getting bigger', I discuss the future impact on the Contract Door Hardware Distributors and locksmiths within this supply chain and the negative effect of manufacturers/suppliers attempting to eliminate these two vital areas of the Division VIII supply chain. It is very evident on where the 'Big Boxes' are going with their Business Strategy. Although it is always the manufacturer/supplier's decision on the sales strategy a company makes, as it should be; the difficulty with Division VIII is that although it (usually) only makes up 2-4% of the project, it (unfortunately) makes up 25% of the 'grief factor' of a project, mostly due to the fact that even large General Contractors don't understand the intricacies of the Door and Hardware Industry with Distributors at the mercy of manufacturing schedules, delays, incomplete orders, submittal time-lines, ordering processes, etc. etc. etc. Nevertheless without these vital people involved in this supply chain, even more so these days with 'drawings' that are never completed, inadequacies of a door and hardware schedule and outdated specifications, projects regardless of size would never be completed.

Yet, we have top-line oriented manufacturers/suppliers whose business strategy is being executed at the expense of this customer group. Why, as an entrepreneurial business group, would one continually feed those that are positioning themselves to destroy your very business?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Volume 30 - China - Third Edition

Of all the cities visited on my adventure to China, I would have to say that Shanghai was my favorite. The international metropolitan flavor, the architectural skyline, the business mix of people representing all parts of the world, and the mystical nature of the Shanghanese people only highlights this city of 17 million people. Having arrived on a Saturday afternoon, gave me the opportunity to settle into my first weekend in this three thousand year old culture.

Sunday in Shanghai proved to be simply a wonderful, relaxing day with a special twist. Through our partner attorney, Daniel Thomas, we have employed the very competent law firm Calfee Halter & Griswold of Cleveland, for the specifics of trademark law and international law. Because of this relationship, our international lawyer, Bob Ross, Calfee, had made some special contacts for me before my trip. One of these contacts was Mr. Chunyang Shao, partner in the Jun He law firm, located on the top floor of the Kerry Center in Shanghai. Mr. Chunyang picked my interpreter and I up at noon and took us to a spectacular two hour lunch before entertaining us at his 32nd floor office building. The view was spectacular from all four sides of the building giving me a view of this city not seen by many visitors. My sincere thanks to Shao and to Bob Ross for this special time.

From the factories visited during the next few days, the nightlife, the local restaurants, the 'Bund' (the riverside area of the Huangpu River booming with offices, restaurants, and nightlife of Shanghai), the surrounding districts and cities, the Jiading district and the beautiful city of Suzhou, were very special. For example, the Tang Hotel for lunch, with one of our factories, not only is beyond exquisite but within walking distance of the Formula One race track, and the international race that is a regular on the F1 schedule.

The journey continued onto Taiwan and the city of Taipei with an early morning flight that takes you through Hong Kong, since traveling in and out of Taiwan involves customs and immigration, one of simple political inconvenience. This means flying to Hong Kong, de-planeing, checking through immigration/customs, then a new plane to Taiwan, a very long day; unfortunately, I had appointments starting at 4:00 p.m. and didn't stop till late into the night. If there was a good side of this long day, it involved the wonderful experience on Cathay Pacific, the airlines that took me from Hong Kong to Taiwan in which the 'sea bass' was magnificent.

The following day, being the first outside of the Hotel since my arrival and the late night meetings, the first impression hits you immediately that this island is very lush and mountainous. I visited a factory on the North Shore and was taken back with the beauty of this lush, tropical, mountainous area that is joined at its base with waters of the South China Sea, the Taiwan Straits and the East China Sea, a portrait screaming to be painted. Lunch was at a mountain spa from which, in the distance, one could see the city of Taipei, and the tallest building in the world, 'the 101'. On my next trip to Taiwan there will be much more time spent in this very attractive part of China.

Back to Hong Kong for an international Hardware Show, and a meeting with another law firm, and possibly the most powerful lady I've ever met, Y.M.Elaine Lo, partner Johnson Stokes & Master. Somewhat of a light work schedule, but at this time I was feeling burnt, so Hong Kong celebrating Halloween for four nights was quite the site. They actually shut down some streets in the restaurant district for hundreds of thousands of partying people from all over the world. Outside escalators in the SOHO and Lan Kwai Fong areas, with 35 degrees of slop entering one neighborhood onto another is simply worth the trip, not to mention Fat Angelo's, Havanna House, Bulldogs Bar and Grill, and Stanton's, just to mention a few of many hundreds. The central district, the hub of banking, commerce, and shopping is simply awe inspiring.

With the return of Hong Kong and Macau, the last of the European colonies, back to China, there is a real sense that the Chinese destiny is being returned to its rightful place at the center of the world and hopefully will take this challenge to forge with other leadership countries in making this world a better place for all the world's people regardless of politics.