Feb 3, 2009

Switzer Rant: "Research and Copy"

A blog (a contraction of the term "Web log") is a Web site, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video.

Thanks to Wiki for the definition. I really wasn't sure what a blog actually was until now. Now I understand that it's a place to post information, opinions, pictures ... even just a place to vent once in a while. With that in mind, I'm going to take a moment and rant a little.

I was spending some time today talking with one of my associates in the performance tuning industry ... he was telling me about someone that was going after a particular market with parts "that everyone would buy" because they would be copies of a "known" tuner's parts - brought in from China, of course. He would price the parts lower than that known tuner could ever afford to sell their parts for, and he intended to bring his fakes into the US by the container-full, then dump them on the market for cheap.

I have to tell you that I am sickened every time I hear stories like these. That guy is going to make a cheap imitation of a quality part and sell it to some unsuspecting consumer who doesn't know any better. Chances are good that the end-consumer is going to be disappointed with whatever results he/she gets. Worse yet ... he's going to end up spending his money twice - buying the correct part later (assuming he doesn't end up disenchanted with the whole experience and turned off by the aftermarket altogether).

The copy ... is shiny. The guy selling it says it's just as good as the "real" thing that's twice as expensive. You know what? Maybe it is. Maybe it will do the job ... for a while.

Maybe not.

This same guy is selling his cheap imitation parts with the sales pitch that the known tuner is charging too much, but let's think about that. ARE the established tuners charging too much? Are they wrong to charge for development, research, design, tooling, and production? Are they wrong to charge a price that allows them to pay their skilled technical guys a livable wage?

What about these forgers? That's all they are - after all, they don't have to charge what the guy who developed the part has to charge, because they didn't do a minutes' worth of development. They didn't come up with the idea. They didn't build the prototype. They didn't tool up for the failures as well as the end products. They didn't do a single original, honorable, or decent thing.

They practiced RESEARCH AND COPY.

They sent it to 3 or more sources in China ... picked the cheapest of the copy samples that got returned and slapped a sticker on the box. Viola! They're "tuners" now, too.

They are "tuners" now, because they don't mind getting cheap product from what is, essentially, slave labor. They don't mind stealing the hard work and long hours of others ... and they certainly don't mind closing up shop and running off with their money when their inferior products burn a consumer.

They are "tuners" now, because they don't mind hurting the industry, and hurting customers.

My response to these "tuners" is this: go ahead and copy our parts, our packages ... while you're at it ... copy our commitment to our clients, our employees, and our friends in the industry. Copy our experience, and our knowledge, and our love for these vehicles that we've devoted our working lives to. Copy our knowledge of why the part is designed the way we designed it, and why it works so much better with component A than it does with component B. Oh... and please, regardless of whatever else you copy ... copy the value that we give our clients and the support we provide throughout their entire unique tuning experiences.

You might just want to offer a calling card to China with every cheap imitation part you sell, since you'll up and run as soon as there's a problem ... hopefully, there will be someone on the other end of that call that can offer the support that your customer requires. Meanwhile, we'll be guiding our clients every step of the way and providing them with the very best products we can supply. While you were copying our parts, I'll bet that you forgot to copy our sense of pride in what we do as well as our appreciation for our customers. Maybe you can bring that over in the next shipping container.