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What? You Don’t Have a Broadcast Vendor?

Don’t overlook this important industry resource

Working with a client’s engineer recently, I recommended the purchase of some necessary equipment, and he agreed. I suggested that he call his preferred vendor to get competitive quotes, but he told me that his business manager requires him to purchase everything from the giant web presence (no, I am not saying names). 

I asked, knowing the answer: “You don’t have relationships with any industry vendors?” 

Being a young guy, he wondered why he would need that. Suddenly I pictured a scene from “Kung Fu.”

I said, “Grasshopper, now listen: Having relationships with a few preferred dealers within broadcasting is great. These are experts in how these products are used. They know your projects. They know what brands you have and like. They often have been trained by the manufacturers. 

“A dealer can advocate for you if you have a problem with a manufacturer’s product. They may offer you favorable purchasing terms or leasing options. They’ll work with you and your budget to get the most value. And most of the time they can beat the websites and catalog vendors that don’t specialize in broadcast.”

I think he got the point. But I could have added another reason to use a vendor: They answer the phone (yes, I still use the phone) and if they’re good, they will jump to get what you need. 

I recall working at 6 p.m. on a Friday, when the program director told me that we had a major remote Monday morning. Of course I didn’t have all the equipment I’d need. I called my vendor (on his cell), and he shipped me the needed items overnight, so everything was good. Yes, he saved the day. But wait there’s more. He called me later to make sure everything had been delivered. 

This is the personal service you can enjoy if you use a reputable dealer.

I’m preaching old-school values here. I know big websites and generic catalogs may be tempting, given how easy it is to find and buy products online these days. 

But the people who work at these sites (if you can reach them) probably don’t care if you receive your items on time. They usually have no idea how the equipment will be used in your professional broadcast setting. Sometimes you do not know whether the product had been returned by someone else prior to you receiving it.

No, I don’t work for a vendor. I do appreciate our industry’s specialized suppliers and the value they add to our business. 

As I’ve preached before, build relationships. They will help you in your career. Where do you start these relationships? Society of Broadcast Engineering meetings, AES Audio Engineering Society meetings, Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers meetings. Trade shows, yes, collect the business cards. I’ve been teased that my phone’s contact list is an industry resource; many people will call me to find out whom to call. 

You should never feel like you are alone on a project, and a good vendor can hook you up with someone who has already done something similar to what you’re trying to do. 

Build your professional relationships, they will pay off throughout your career. And that includes your equipment dealers. 

By the way, vendors usually know about job openings before anyone else, so make friends.

Read past commentaries by David Bialik.