I Think I’ll Stick With the Specialist!

charles-kayeThis guest post comes from Charles Kaye, CEO of private brand manufacturer greenblendz.

In 1968, I witnessed one of the greatest feats in sports history. Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Denny McClain won 31 games in a single season and became the last pitcher in Major League Baseball to win 30 or more games during a season. An incredible feat, and one that probably can never again be repeated considering the changes in the game.

In today’s world, starting pitchers rarely get the opportunity to finish/complete a ballgame. There are short relievers, long relievers.  Some pitchers work only the 8th inning. And some pitchers, known as “closers,” only pitch 1 inning, usually the ninth; the team relies on the closer to close out the opposing team and win the game. In short, baseball, and the sports world in general, has come to rely on specialists.

We can also look at it in other areas. A patient diagnosed with cancer does not seek advice from a podiatrist just because they are a Doctor.  They go to an oncologist … a specialist in the field. It only makes sense.

I am the CEO of a highly specialized manufacturing company in one of the fastest growing markets of consumer products. We formulate, produce and package natural and plant based products that cross multiple categories including Household, Laundry, Air Care, Baby, Pet and more under retailer’s own brands.

Although our company has been approaching record growth, I am stunned at the number of retailers who continue to bid out these products to nonspecialists based purely on price.

In recent years some of the leading National Brands have been called out for false or misleading claims relative to the chemicals they are putting into their natural products. Just this week we received a call from a retailer who discovered that one of their suppliers was using synthetic fragrances versus the natural ones that they had committed to using in their formula. That sort of price-driven decision making hurts the credibility of the entire industry.

I recall as far back as 1972, speaking with a private label manufacturer of NBE products for a major national retailer. He had just come out of a meeting where the buyer had refused his much-needed price increase. Being young and in the early stages of my career, I asked him what solution existed. His answer resonates with me to this day, “Simple, use more water and less active ingredients!”

With 30% of all Millennials shopping online, retailers have to stop operating out of a rear view mirror and fight back.  Unique Private Brand offerings have to become main stream. Assuming that if in five years the amount of online shopper’s doubles, then retailers will be competing for only 40% of those Millennial and Generation Z dollars.

Which brings me back to being a Specialist in your field.

Greenblendz does not compete in the “me too” arena.  We have spent years developing natural products with high efficacy levels that are also competitively priced.  We are specialists.

In a recent discussion, my M&A (mergers and acquisitions) lawyer told me if I didn’t like his fee than I should go hire a personal injury lawyer.  He works on contingency.

I think I’ll stick with the specialist.