Marc Lizer

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Jun 28, 1999
North Hollywood, CA

CopSpeak for Just Don’t Look Right.

The FYI Thread seemed to be a hot button topic. After getting a few answers from Designer, things seemed to quiet down, or maybe it was just talked to death. Either way, things seemed to be put to bed.

But I have some nagging open questions, or some things that JDLR, and deserve a revisit.

The other info I got the other day from Designer still stands as more or less correct. But, like most things, if you don’t ask a specific question, then a person does not need to answer it. Right?

So here is how it works. I make an order from e-frame, on e-frame's website, and pay for it.

E-frame orders are then fulfilled directly from Designer a warehouse. E-frame does not stock it, cut it, pack it, or ship it. They collect the money and the initial order, and then hand the info over to Designer.

Here’s the problem. By definition, a distributor distributes. This is not actually happening. A distributor carries stock and inventory, this is part of the distributor pricing level, or orders with frequency and volume.

E-frame is not distributing. Distribution is being made from a Designer location, on an order fulfillment basis. E-frame only acts as an order taking mechanism. This, in itself is not a problem. The problem lies in the fact that this was not forthright, and concealed.

Can you get distributor pricing if you are not distributing? OK, so maybe the Mettle Company is actually doing distribution for the NY and upper East Coast US, and that actually entitles them to Distributor, as I was told.

But, with e-frame orders that do not fall in the Upper East Coast area, and Designer KY does fulfills e-frame orders to The South. And Designer IN for the Midwest. And Designer CA for The Western States. That just seems like the relationship has gone from Manufacturer and Distributor to something else, like Fulfillment House and Marketing & Order Taking Mechanism.

I even get the feeling that individual Designer Warehouses log on to E-frame's site, go into the backside of the checkout page of E-frame, and download the orders for the addresses that are in that region to get the fulfillment info. The would seemingly be just a bit more cozy than Manufacturer and Distributor, more like Partner.

I have no problem with Designer even doing such a deal. I have a problem with trying to hide it. On the scale of questionable business practices in the framing industry, it’s actually pretty mild. Imagine one where a vendor, because a customer has reached the last column of distributor pricing, and the customer insists on a greater discount. Since it would be illegal to go further, as it would be a preferential pricing policy, they get around it but giving “marketing and advertising” credits back to the customer. Pretty much this means the customer is buying the material for less than any other distributor. Much less. Heck, the vendor is paying the customer cash to carry their product. They do this to get name recognition and market penetration, while cutting margins. The really bad part comes when it comes time to make up the margin. The same manufacturer will market to framers in a slick fashion. Framers will now pay a higher price. Literally, the extra cash you overpay is being paid directly to the Big Box competition.

So, not only do you complain about Big Boxes hurting biz, but you pay money you do make to a vendor that pays it right to them again. How can you do that?

So what’s my rant? Less’s FYI had even more under the surface than first thought. And secondly, even if this the situation that Designer and Eframe are working it in this fashion, it pales in comparison the how you are getting screwed over by one or two other manufacturers that are perceived as industry leaders. Leading the money right out of your pocket into the pocket of a Big Box.

So, be upset at Designer if you want. But, I suggest getting upset with the people are really doing more harm to your bottom line by subsidizing the Big Boxes you rail against. To me, that's JDLR, or Just Don’t Look Right.
Can't speak for the Nielsen, Tru Vue situation but I knew the Designer debacle wasn't as simple as the explanation.

I think this is the part in the movie where Chance Gardener was approached by thugs and since Chance was a simple guy who only had one reality his answer to being bullied by the thugs was to pull out his TV remote and try to click them away......

Who knew there was subtrafuge and a sinister underbelly in the framing industry?
Yeah it seems that all that eframe is doing is getting drop ships from Designer which is MUUUUUUCCH different than distributing. Designer still hasn't gotten back to me with many of my questions and I have wide open ears to see what they say.
What are they going to say?

If you don't like it tough ****!

So, the question becomes. What are you going to do with this knowledge?

Give them approval by doing nothing, or stop doing business with them?

I would like to suggest pulling your samples.

If any one of my companies pulled the same stunt they would immediately come off my wall.

As to Marc's other concerns, I would like to thank him for reminding us of who is looking out for whom.

I do very little metal, so dumping Nielsen metals would be easy. Not carrying TruGuard and Bainbridge would be a little more difficult.

The good thing is we do have options. We independents need to stick together and push back.
I really wonder how well Eframes are doing at selling over the net,are there 10 oders a day or just 10 orders a month. How many of us have websites that we are making sales directly from. It sure smells fishy to me when E frames don't distributes or stock product and that is all left up to Designer, so the way I look at it,E-frame is the seller for Designer and is taking a very little rick at doing so. Designer is benifiting from it because they can now sale their frames wholesale to the public and use the excuse that they only supply to E-frame and do not own E-frames in any way. Is this still unethical and damaging to the retailer directly from Designer.
it pales in comparison the how you are getting screwed over by one or two other manufacturers that are perceived as industry leaders. Leading the money right out of your pocket into the pocket of a Big Box.
Hi Marc. Wow for your ferreting skills! I like the definition... "to hunt (rats, for example)..."

I was just wondering to which companies and BB's this quote refers.

I had heard that LJ doesn't sell to M******* any longer - that they have their own knock-off moulding lines. And we all know about HL. Their mouldings are lackluster.

In our neck of the woods we have JoAnn ETC. and they carry LJ. So far they are far enough south not to affect us, but with all the BB"s sprouting up around here, it might not be long before they are here, too. :rolleyes:
Originally posted by jframe:
Mission accomplished!
Sorry Jo, I figured, why not say it outloud instead of skirting behind the issue. I have a different take than Marc does on the Michael's/Nielsen Bainbridge connection.

When I worked for Michael's we carried both Bainbridge and Crescent matboard. Then Michael's got the bright idea they wanted their own colors and they also had plans to recreate the metal frames. They presented their ideas to both Nielsen and Crescent. Crescent refused and Nielsen agreed. Michael's then dropped Crescent. As I knew it when it all played out Michael's was using their considerable muscle to bully the suppliers into doing what they wanted. I mean think about it, at the time they had like 400 stores. Losing their business had to hurt Crescent a bit. But I recall hearing from reps(that was back in the day when reps were allowed to call)that Michael's was making demands and throwing their weight around. As a result N/B got to be their sole supplier of matboard and metal frames.

Michael's also had it in their head that they wanted backloading metal frames. All the metal frames had to be backloaded. It was ludicrous. Nielsen had to come up with a concept and get crimping machines to all the Michael's stores. They had to produce new hardware to keep the frames together. If you have ever seen the way the premade metals are made there is a crimping device that you use to anchor the corners together. Since Michael's insisted on this new way of joining frames and they had to be backloading essentially what they did was have to redesign their whole line of metal frames so they no longer had the channels on the back just like all the cheap ready mades you see in the stores. That made the frames weak and not strong enough to support glass. Exactly the reason why the readymade ones have styrene instead of glass. Duh. So then they had to create special cross braces to actually hold the frames together and special hardware to hang the frames with and special tools to insert the crossbraces and hangers. And special tools to remove the clips. I remember at the time thinking the company was being run by an insane asylum....

Nielsen was required to install all these crimping machines and train us to use them. I thought it was nutz, the reps thought it was nutz but at this point I think Nielsen had just become Michale's b@tch and was just jumping through hoops to keep the business. This whole new way of reinventing the metal frames lasted exactly one year and was a dismal failure due to weak frames. The machines were removed from the stores. I bet from time to time other shops must get these peculiar contraptions in for reframing and unfortunately if you don't have the little tool you can't get the braces off or put back on. They were geniuses I tell you, geniuses. I can just imagine the considerable expense involved getting these machines to 400 stores and having to manufacture a special line of frames. I bet Michael's ate that one.....

I also heard a few years ago that they were planning on bringing LJ down. Ha! although they have eliminated most of the business they do with LJ. The stores are allowed to order certain things only. They were at one time remanufacturing and knocking off a lot of LJ's stuff. But there is still considerable LJ mouldings in their line up.

They also have converted to all Tru Vue glass which they warehouse and distrbute to the stores themselves so I imagine they get distributor prices for the glass. I was told that the reason they use all UV is because they get it for the same price of regular quality glass.

Doesn't all the UV Michael's buys really skew the numbers on what Tru Vue sells? Inflating the stats to appear that things are trending in a certain way? Same with selling only Alphamat.....they pay regular mat prices and get Alpha..doesn't that inflate the stats on that too?

I don't have a beef with Nielsen or Tru Vue. Michael's calls the shots on that stuff, not the other way around. It seems to me anyway. All my distributors only carry Tru Vue so going elsewhere would require shipping and extra cost.

The real issue is Designer selling to the public at wholesale prices. That is the biggest problem as I see it.

Thanks very much for reading my dissertation......
wow emibub went all out there, she is usually the tame one in the bunch. i think designer needs to do something here, before this really gets out and ruins their reputation. and quickly!!!

Originally posted by dns ynko:
. i think designer needs to do something here, before this really gets out and ruins their reputation.

I really hope it does. Maybe if there is any cosmic justice out there they will go down in flames!