The construction industry in the United States and Canada is over 800 billion so it’s no wonder so many companies are looking to cash in. However, not all products are created equal, beyond that, not all companies are committed to the same level of quality and service. We’ve been doing this for over 10 years and we’ve learned a few things along the way when it comes to knowing the difference between a contender and a pretender.
For example, employees that work for the U.S. government that handle the printing and packaging of money were trained to spot a counterfeit by becoming so familiar with the real thing that they would spot the phoney right away.
We’ve put together a very simple way to spot an imposter. Here’s what to look out for when evaluating a new architectural product.
- Do they have a manufacturing facility?
The ability to easily import from Asia has allowed companies to act as product brokers and then enter the market with a discounted price and claim they’re just like the high quality product you’re used to. Here’s what to ask:
- Location of the manufacturing plant
- How long have they been manufacturing
- Ask to tour the plant
The last point is the main one, we give tours all the time it’s one of the questions we get asked the most. No better way to verify the product than checking out the source.
- Are they knowledgable?
When a new manufacture produces something for the non-residential architectural industry there’s a whole different set of standards to be aware of and to demonstrate compliance. Asking some investigative questions can help sort out how knowledgeable they are about the market they’re entering.
- Ask if their product meets building code standards, do they have ICC reports?
- Do they have 3rd party testing documentation they can share?
- Ask about Non-combustibility. Careful with this one, only ASTM and CAN/ULC testing can verify this.
- Ask for project references
If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
If a new product gains entry into the market by being “just like” or “just the same as” then they’re most likely not the originator of that idea or design. While copycats are common they can be a huge liability for an architect, developer, owner. For instance, clearly the nature of a copycat is what? Self-preservation. They’re looking for a get rich quick scheme. This means they will cut corners but they’re not going to tell anyone about it. For example, two products can look virtually identical but differ greatly in performance, the problem is performance is evaluated over time. This is where verified, legitimate 3rd party testing is crucial. As long as you do your research the truth will become clear, it’s all about testing, testing, testing and then verifying that testing.
- How is their customer service?
How is their response time, how accurate are their answers, are they knowledgable and to they follow-thru?
- Proving Ground
If you’re relatively confident be safe and place and small order and see how the process goes. Were the lead times accurate, did the product meet your quality standards?