“If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that we need our customers and they need us more than ever, and with this awareness we should expect more from each other,” says Christina Nielsen, director, government accounts, North America, for Lawson Products, a distributor of fleet and facility maintenance products and services to the industrial, commercial, institutional and government maintenance, repair and operation (MRO) market in North America.
As procurement managers source their products in 2021-2022, Nielsen urges them to reconsider the true value of the relationships they have with their suppliers. She suggests that they ask themselves the following questions:
- Do you expect them (the suppliers) to simply deliver products at a price or help make the services you serve run smoother and more reliably?
- Can you pick up the phone and rely on them to find you alternative sources of product in the type of supply chain environment we find ourselves in?
- Do they offer a level of service that helps alleviate your workforce issues?
- Do they provide you with purchasing and contractual solutions that help you be more agile and creative?
Lawson Products serves state and local governments, school districts, colleges and universities with its Cooperation Agreement which is available through OMNIA partners, Public sector. The company helps its customers reduce their total cost of operations by increasing productivity and efficiency. Its problem-solving professionals and Lawson Managed Inventory Program make sure customers have the right parts to do the job.
As 2022 approaches, cities and counties are more willing to consider relying on cooperative agreements, Nielsen believes. “With limited procurement staff and higher than ever demand for strategic sourcing of key COVID-19 items, we have seen greater openness of local governments to adopt cooperative purchasing agreements instead of creating their own contracts. “
Nielsen points out that Lawson has several cooperative purchasing agreements that were created using the lead agency model, which means that they are solicited through a competition and publicly awarded by some of the most prominent public purchasing departments. most respected in the United States. the government itself means that it can enjoy all the advantages of a competitive contract without having to undergo the tedious task of re-tendering. Nielsen says his company has seen legislatures step up efforts to accommodate state-level cooperative purchasing agreements, even in states where cooperative contracts were not previously accepted.
Two factors have prompted Lawson Products to expand its product line in 2021, according to Nielsen: COVID-induced trends and market trends, primarily around workplace safety, regardless of the COVID pandemic.
With the worst of the COVID-19 outbreak hopefully behind us, Lawson Products has seen demand stabilize for its personal protective equipment (PPE), disinfectant and disinfectant offerings. Some of these products are now a permanent part of the Lawson line, where they were not previously. “For example, facility managers no longer frantically stock up on disposable Tyvek coveralls, but the demand for disinfectants approved by the EPA to be effective against the SARS / CoV-2 virus is here to stay. Electric backpack foggers continue to feature high on the list of products facility maintenance staff value so they can sanitize municipal buildings and schools quickly and reliably. So in these areas our product line has been reshaped and extended over the long term, ”said Nielsen. Cooperative solutions.
In 2021, the company added items to its line that contribute to a safer workplace and environment. An example is a concrete repair and scribing product called Mega. Mega is a ready-to-use surface repair kit that helps facility managers ensure concrete surfaces are free from tripping and falling hazards by smoothing them out without the need for professional equipment or repair costs. third party application. Products like Mega, says Nielsen, help public operations stay compliant with OSHA and environmental standards so their workers and the environment both benefit.
Governments in 2021 need to be very careful about sourcing PPE, and they need to be careful about accepting alternative products, Nielsen says. “With so many new manufacturers entering the PPE market in particular, many cities and counties have been burned down by sourcing sub-optimal quality PPE in their race to meet the needs of health / safety regulations in their areas. communities. We have seen that the demand for samples in every PPE bid / tender opportunity has become a good practice and we don’t think it should go away. Nielsen adds that it is important for cities and counties to be assured by their supplier-partners that the PPE products they receive are indeed able to perform to the specifications they claim to be.
Customers are striving to diversify their supplier base, Nielsen says. “The general trend of supplier consolidation by procurement departments over the past decades has been systematically challenged in the aftermath of COVID-19, which means that in times of limited supply of critical MRO materials and supply chain overloaded, more sourcing options are preferable. road to meeting the needs of your end users. Nielsen says she has seen city and county procurement departments think outside the box of their handful of contracted suppliers to entertain other partners and options that may better meet their needs.
There is no doubt that Lawson Products is investing in resources that will improve the overall experience of its public sector customers when obtaining goods and services from the company. One example, says Nielsen, is the company’s efforts to improve its e-procurement capabilities to ensure faster and more seamless integrations with the most popular public sector platforms. “We are also hiring more public procurement and customer service specialists. Having the right products and services will always be essential, but ensuring our clients prefer the experience of working with Lawson is at the forefront of how we make decisions about investing in this space.
Michael Keating is editor-in-chief of US city and county. Contact him at [email protected]