Excuse me while I vent

Dear Mr. Apparel Industry Equipment Salesperson,

When I call you on the phone, please do not act surprised/incredulous/sarcastic that I am inquiring about the purchase of new or rebuilt industrial sewing machines and equipment. Yes, I know that most of the production has moved off shore, I am not stupid. I am not a lemming and regardless of what others have done or are doing, I make my own decisions about where and how to do things and do not need you to tell me that I can’t turn a profit doing it here. Now, I’m used to guys like you. I can take it but I really worry about people like you -who should be on our side- telling other people they don’t stand a chance. With commentary and “help” like that, all you are doing is encouraging people to give up. We don’t need help like that. Answer my questions about machines and keep your comments to yourself. Bust a gut when I hang up, I do not care! I only care about the messages you’re sending other people who don’t know you like I do.

Please do not treat me like I am stupid. Yes, I’m a girl but guess what? I bet I own more tools than you do.Yes, I know your machines are not appropriate for somebody sewing for their neighbors. Yes, I know your machines cost thousands of dollars; I and my friends can afford them. Yes, I know this is “industrial” equipment. Yes, I know it is large, can be noisy with exceptional power or air requirements. Yes, I know that if I can’t service the equipment myself (news-flash mister, some of us girls can) I will have to pay someone to do it. I actually know what three phase power is. I know I need compressed air. I know that many start ups may not know, that’s my job and I’m only asking you to help me teach them by answering a few questions.

Speaking of, Mr Apparel Industry Equipment Salesperson, whether you choose to believe it or not, I have 5,000-6,000 daily visitors who are interested in apparel manufacturing and production. These visitors are not a figment of my imagination, they exist so please stop telling me there is no business here anymore. I’m calling you because you won’t return their calls or they’re soul-tired from being treated like dog dirt. The only reason I tell you about my website in the first place is so that you understand I am not pumping you for information by pretending I am a potential customer. I am honest about my site so you can tailor your information as is appropriate to my audience. If my visitors are spending thousands of dollars every day on this stuff, why don’t you want some of it?

Most sincerely
Kathleen Fasanella

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  1. J C Sprowls says:

    Thank you for doing this. Yes, I run into the same commentary and frustration on a regular basis. In fact, I have been chasing one particular supplier off & on for over 2 weeks. Basically, I’m begging to give him my money. He kept promising to call me back; but, never did.

    Finally, yesterday, I told him: “We both know you’ll never call. So, if I have to call you every hour until you finally take my order, that’s what I’m going to do.” During my 3rd call, yesterday, he made time to write the friggin’ $700 order.

    If he weren’t the only game in town, I would’ve been onto the next one, pronto!

  2. Karen C says:

    Hmmmm, have to almost beg them to take our money…no more business in the good ole’ US of A…could this be cause and effect in action? It all boils down to customer service. A smart business person who want to educate as many as possible and create new customers. Doesn’t take any more time to just be nice to people.

  3. nadine says:

    Amen Sistah!

    I went through this for the last time a month ago. I pulled our parts orders for 3 classrooms of industrial heavy duty leather sewing machines and gave it to the guys across the street. Reason? I got tired of the old guys who know what I teach telling me they don’t sell parts for home machines! And for every time I visit they tell me that.

    The other guys gave me copies of vintage manuals for my machinery, ordered me parts, remember my name and love what they do.

    And I can fix sewing machines, repair timing, put in bobbin assemblies myself too! Learned it just so I didn’t have to deal with anymore crap.

    My friend and I constantly joke we are going to open the women friendly, small designer tool and repair shop, serve tea at 3, and offer classes on taking back your sewing machine. Now you just made me want to do it again.

    Thanks for the big laugh – with ya all the way!

    I’m printing this and giving it to the old sexist geezers BTW!

  4. JD says:

    What a timely topic.
    Ya know, it is not just the industrial suppliers. Even the home sewing machine sales people are behaving this way.
    I went in to look at the second to the top of the line embroidery machine (I had the cash in hand too), but the guy acted like I needed my husband there to approve the sale, nearly refused to tell me the price, and treated me as if I didn’t deserve the time of day and was actually taking up his time.
    When I told him I found it somewhere else for $1000 less (he was a local rep, which is why I thought I’d try him), he told me what he would take off of his sale for me, the “bells and whistles” if you will – no lessons, no maintenance, essentially no service.
    I am really seeing the realization of how internet sales will boom if everyone is treated like this.

  5. Josh says:

    I am really seeing the realization of how internet sales will boom if everyone is treated like this.

    I was just talking about how much more pleasant it was to shop online vs. a brick and mortar store. I tried to purchase a Stevie Nicks CD in Wal Mart this week. Buying music in a store is something I rarely do. I regret doing it. I was unable to find the CD after looking through all of their CDs and when I asked a salesperson for help, she just acted perturbed and gave me a blank look. I thought I found the CD but found out that when I got home with it, it was the wrong thing. I wound up having to order it online. But at least I could investigate the CD more fully before buying and with no hassle or hour of searching. I will never buy music offline again.

  6. Big Irv says:

    The attitude of some equipment suppliers is appalling at times. Fabric/trim suppliers too.

    I had a conversation a few weeks ago with a gentleman who was organizing a trade show for equipment suppliers to our industry. It is a fairly well publicized event that you have mentioned here and I believe you will attend this show in May.
    He related to me that many of his members were balking at exhibiting at the show. The primary reason given was that many felt it would be futile to exhibit as much of domestic production has shifted to Asia.
    The feeling I came away with was that this group are neglecting the small-mid sized DE and they do not fully understand the potential this sector represents.

    I think most of us realize how globalization has
    changed the sewn products industry. I think those that are healthy and viable are doing so because they were able to forsee the changes and try new strategies. Some are still learning, but they remain optimistic that this still is a very real industry.

    I discuss the state of affairs of our business with suppliers everyday. Like you Kathleen,I get frustrated when people go on and on talking doom and gloom.
    I see many people sitting back feeling sorry for themselves, but unwilling to try new things. Some yearn for the good old days. I don’t know if that will happen, but I do know of many vibrant successful industry suppliers that are healthy because they chose to think “outside the box”. Lot’s of hard work in the process, because they are passionate about the business.

    In the past 5 years, I have seen plenty of people “throw in the towel”, but I have seen plenty prosper as a result.

    Kathleen, thanks for pointing out attitude amongst suppliers is a very important step to aiding our industry.

  7. Deanna says:

    I have experienced this attitude also. It is really frustrating when you have money to spend, you have a need for equipment and you just want someone to sell to you.
    The local “dealer” of used indust. machines wouldn’t return calls, wouldn’t even come out of the back room to speak to me. Just sent the clerk with a message to email him what I want and he will order it. What do you have? no reply.
    So I traveled 8 hours to Calgary and found “International Sewing Machines Ltd” a Ma and Pa operation where they took the time to explain the machines, they knew enough about production to alert me to possible problems, and introduced me to their mechanic (their daughter!) who showed me how to do minor maintainence so that I wouldn’t have to have downtime for minor things. They were amazing! They even stayed late that night to dismantle 2 machines and pack them into the trunk of my car. Motors, stands everything. It showed me that there is no point in trying to be a big shot – you really impress people when you know what you are doing and you care about it too. (And yes, my car was riding a little low on the way back)

  8. Lisa says:

    I haven’t used an industrial machine since I was in school in ’04, nor have I tried to buy one (not at that stage in my biz yet), but I know that the repair guy seemed to come promptly. Maybe it’s a bit different here in Portland, OR?

    I don’t know how many people read this, but what if we collectively brought domestic production back??? I don’t know a ton about it…it is just my thought. I mean production of apparel AND textiles. As my biz grows, I plan to contract seamstresses for piece work then I’d like to have it all done in house. I wouldn’t want to deal with snotty/lofty salespeople either. It sucks you had to go thru that.

  9. June says:

    I have a a wonderful contact for commercial machines. He has a family owned and operated business and is one of the kindest most helpful men I have ever met ( sorry honey!)
    I have bought several machines from him and he has hand delivered them ( I’m a few hours away).
    Oh, and they fixed my machines to run on house current. You’ll not be dissappointed,

    Robert L. Collier
    Tennessee Valley Industrial Sewing, Inc.
    234 International Drive
    Lawrenceburg, TN. 38464
    Phone: 931-762-7663
    Fax: 931-762-4303

  10. Sarah says:

    The above mentioned “wonderful contact for commercial machines” owes me nearly $1000 in merchandise I prepaid for almost a year ago and have not received. He made excuses a couple times and promised the order would be on it’s way but I have seen nothing and he will not return my company’s calls. I am definitely disappointed. The cell phone number he gave me to call him has been disconnected and I have left many messages at the number posted above with no response. I used to think he was a nice guy too, not anymore.

  11. Kathleen says:

    Thanks for the report Sarah. I went to their website and filled out the contact form mentioning your comment here and leaving the link. I also called their phone number. It seems to be working now, I got a machine (I’m calling after hours).

  12. Kathleen says:

    In the background, I’ve been following up on Sarah’s complaint against Tennessee Valley Industrial Sewing. Apparently, they owe her over $1,000 worth of buggies. In spite of repeated phone calls and emails (from both of us), the company has not responded to her complaint. No one answers the phone during office hours. I’ve recommended she contact the BBB since she has a lot of documentation and credibility (her firm is well established in the industry with a good reputation). In a nutshell, buyer beware. If TVIS makes good on this, I’ll make note of it here.

  13. Sarah says:

    After investing personal time in attempting to resolve the case of the undelivered merchandise by TVIS, with no personal gain, Kathleen bridged a communication gap for me that I had been previously unable to do myself despite over a year of trying… within a couple weeks of the post I heard back from a rep at TVIS regarding my undelivered merchandise. I received the merchandise Monday afternoon, and TVIS had thrown in a couple extra pieces for good measure. I unpacked and inspected the buggies yesterday afternoon. Although I spoke to TVIS last week and was assured that the buggies were on their way, I wanted to wait until I had received them in my plant before posting an update, as I had heard from them before that my merchandise was on it’s way when it was not. I should add that the contact name for Tennessee Valley Industrial Sewing posted above was Robert Collier, a relative of the current owner, whom I am told is no longer employed there. ***Many thanks to you Kathleen! You’re a star!***

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