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Dealing with children of the factory owner

by Mike Bellamy in the book "The Essential Reference Guide to China Sourcing”

Some of the most professional account managers I have dealt with have been the owner’s relatives. However, some of the worst account managers I have come across have also been relatives. I came to the realization one day that the family members who drive luxury cars normally are terrible account managers. Unless your order is huge, the siblings will find more enjoyable past times than dealing with buyers, especially if there are hard issues like late deliveries and poor quality to sort out.

I had one situation where the supplier was generally making a mess of production and I came to the factory to read them the riot act. After just 10 minutes of losing face the owner’s daughter serving as my account manager said she was going to the restroom but got in her BMW X5 and drove to Macau for a bit of gambling and a show to let things “cool off” she later stated. She couldn’t care less about our project as the family was already well off and Daddy gave her the job so she could practice her English.

Eventually we found the right account manager in their organization and things got sorted out. Do not underestimate the power of having the right account manager on your side when dealing with factories.

The other story is of a son that was taking over the family business from his father. He drove a beat up mini-van at the time we met but realized that his future was tied into keeping foreign client’s happy by producing quality parts on time at the agreed price. When there were problems, he took the dressing down as motivation and made changes for the better. He did not run off or hide from the issues. Today, five years later, he drives a Mercedes and gave his son a BMW X5. You guessed it…his son is a terrible account manager!

Mike Bellamy is an Advisory Board Member & Featured Blogger at the not-for-profit China Sourcing Information Center. He is also the author of "The Essential Reference Guide to China Sourcing" and founder of PassageMaker Sourcing Solutions.

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