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10/09/2005: "salt or salve: one last kick, promise!"

Boy, this has been an exciting exchange! I really do have to discipline myself to edit my postings after I write them. That's the problem with writing things down to figure out how you feel about them yourself. Of course, without my lack of editing we wouldn't be having this wonderful debate!

In any case, there were a few things in the last batch of comments that I wanted to respond to, after which I'll let the issue lie dormant for a while. My claim is still over a week away from even being submitted, and I have yet to hear back from my dad, John, or Bob on the situation. No point beating ourselves into a rabid froth for something that, at this stage, exists only in my head, right?

Here's the last batch of clarifications. Quotes are verbatim from the comments.

I'm one who does sever ties when things get to the point of being truly offensive to me or to my personal convictions (as opposed to merely controversial or debatable).

Those ties have been severed. I will never offer them design services again. However, does it make sense to write off an entire company that has one questionable project? Or because its president is misguided and/or misinformed about the legal and ethical obligations of Professional Engineers? Seems like letting one rotten apple spoil the whole bushel to me.

I like apples. Mmm.

Yes, the suit should go forward, but as for the selling - well, there seem to be a lot of "ifs" in your arguments: "if" you can insulate yourself from the president, "if" they want to use you as a supplier, "if" there are no lingering hard feelings after "business" has been dealt with...

Yet again, I probably didn't write as well as I could have. (Scratch that - I didn't proofread and edit when I should have.) There is no "if" in isolating myself from the president. I no longer work there, and don't report to him. Even if I supply them, he will be a customer, not my supervisor, and I likely won't be dealing with him personally at all, but the purchasing department. That is plenty of insulation. As for the other "ifs", those are for them to decide. They have to determine whether my quotes for components are attractive enough, and they also have to decide whether or not to take my Ministry claim personally, or just as business.

Mention exactly what you're doing now for a living, but don't ask for a sale or make a deal. Let him come to you. Then make him a raving-fan customer.

If there was *no* chance of financial gain on your part from mending the fence with them, would you still do it? I think that would be the true expression of "turning the other cheek" and if you would do that, then go for it and don't ask for a sale or give them a deal as part of the cheek turning.

If I could mend the fence, I would, personal gain or not. I'm not someone that can just shrug my shoulders and say, "Oh well, they hate me. Time to move along." There would likely be a limit on how much time and effort I would put into mending said fence, but any light to moderate effort would be expended.

The problem lies with mending the fence without financial gain. The only way I've come up with to get back into their good books is to help their business, and the only way I currently know how to do that is give them access to components through less expensive channels. If there's another way, I would consider it. Going back and trying to explain my position as a Professional Engineer could work, but would involve much more effort than I'm willing to expend.

I would not be asking for a sale, or giving them a deal. I would provide them a quote on components they need, and leave it at that. If they like the price, they'll come to me. I won't be giving them a deal on anything, I happen to have access to goods through more direct channels that they currently do, which means cutting out middlemen, and thereby lowering the cost. Everyone still profits off the sale, there's just less people taking profit.

As you can probably tell, I'm becoming more convinced that I want to do this. It's an excellent opportunity business-wise, and I can see no ethical dilemma in selling components to them. The one project I do have a problem with I know for a fact is going to be sourced entirely from China, possibly even manufactured in and distributed from China, so anything I supply won't even be used in those models. While I value everyone's input, I'm just not feeling that I'm explaining the situation well enough. In any case, the only people I really have to convince are my business associates that would source the parts, and my wife.

Stay tuned, there will be more about this later. Much later.

Replies: 7 Comments

on Monday, October 10th, Boose said

You asked for opinions (or, rather, gave us the CHANCE to express opinions), you got opinions. They remain just that: opinions. If (there I go using that word myself!) you can see a greener side (no pun intended) to this situation and can find a way to get there, then go for it! We're merely pointing out some complications we see in a situation in which we are NOT involved up to our collective necks - if we are seeing things wrongly or differently, all we were asking is that you view it from our side for a few moments. I think you've tried to do just that. And if, at the end, you still feel that this is the best course to pursue, then pursue it! We cannot and will not stop you and, in times to come, may just say, "Gosh, what a smart thing that was to do!"

Only time will tell ;-)

on Monday, October 10th, Bob said

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wow, we're an agreeable bunch. What Boose said applies to me too. From your descriptions and based on my cloudy imagination, I can only tell you what I would do. But I'm also very reliant on my gut feelings - and I don't have many of those because I wasn't there with you throughout it all. There are probably a lot of nuances about the whole situation that just aren't coming across to me.

Anyhow, the thing about getting opinions is to expose oneself to other points of view. Our job is done now, and you will now have to do yours.

Happy deliberating! :)

on Monday, October 10th, Robert Hahn said

Bob and Boose have chosen to gracefully step down on this. I am even more concerned than ever that what you want is the wrong thing to want, and I am going to ask you not to attempt to become their supplier.

Now that I've got that off my chest, I will also step down. Good luck, Ska, no matter what you choose to do.

on Tuesday, October 11th, mr.ska said

Don't be concerned. First, I haven't started to do anything but think about it (and get opinions on the matter). Second, I honestly don't see how selling them anything could put me in a worse position that I'm in with them right now. They will either buy and be satisfied, or they won't buy, and we'll never do business again.

But fear not... nothing is going to happen in the short term. I can't make propane regulators fall from the sky, especially not alone. This will take time, and the approval of much more seasoned businessmen than I.

on Thursday, October 13th, mike said

Sorry, I came to this discussion late (if only I was using an RSS reader, hey?)

Claim/no claim: Not sure where I am on this one. It would be nice to say that it is a separate issue from "supplier/no supplier" but I can't see how they won't be linked, even if only by someone's perceptions.

Supplier/no supplier: If being a supplier to this company furthers the efforts that caused you to refuse and get fired, then I would say no. I may be a bit confused here, but it actually looks like being their supplier may eliminate that particular effort of theirs. So that is good. Also, it sounds like that issue, while serious, may be somewhat of an isolated incident, and their normal business practices may not be so bad. No customer is perfect, and there is no way for you to know entirely that any customer is not doing things you disagree with. So that leans be toward a yes.

on Thursday, October 13th, Mike said


So that leans me toward a yes.

on Thursday, October 13th, Mike said

There's nothing an agnostic can't do if he really doesn't know whether he believes in anything or not.
--Monty Python, Contractual Obligations

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