Why and how to consolidate vendors

Manufacturing, construction, mill working, cabinetry, metal fabrication, and other industrial businesses need a variety of vendors to get products made and delivered – on-time and on-budget.  

vendor management process

But sometimes managing many different vendors can be inconvenient as well as hurt a company’s bottom line. There’s the vendor selection process, which can be cumbersome. Even after a new vendor is secured, they need to be entered into your systems and processes, including funneling into your accounting systems to ensure they get paid. Someone typically manages those relationships, aware of contract specifications. These same vendor managers know how to order goods from each vendor while working with the production managers on how often supplies are needed. Production and project managers are coordinating schedules to ensure products are created accurately and speedily. Then there’s storing and maintaining those goods, keeping on top of which products may expire.  

It’s no easy task. And the more vendors you manage, the more difficult everything involved in vendor management is.  

That’s why many businesses choose to consolidate vendors. Consolidating is easier than people think, has the benefit of convenience, can reduce costs, and even gain efficiencies that promote revenue growth. 

Why Consolidate Vendors 

If you find the right vendor, you can save time and money while making your workforce more productive.  

Convenience and time savings 

When you have fewer vendors to manage, the process is just simpler. That means fewer people to negotiate with, enter into your myriad systems, pay, order from, ensure accuracy of fulfillment, etc. In addition, when new employees join your company, there’s less to train on.  

The trick is ensuring there’s accuracy, speed, and variety from the vendors you have.  

Save money while gaining efficiencies  

When your employees are spending less time updating records and handling payments, onboarding suppliers, and managing those suppliers, you’re saving money. You’re also saving money through volume discounts and relationships. Often, the more you order from one vendor, the better pricing structures you can receive.  

These efficiencies mean more productivity for your team, especially with vendors who can manage stock (including safety stock). That means you’re not wasting time on doing the basics – your supplier is handling that process for you. In other words, some suppliers are like an extended part of your team – understanding your business and looking to help eliminate unnecessary costs.  

The right supplier can even recommend products and processes to save your company time and money.  

Manage the supply chain effectively to keep production moving 

These days, businesses are facing a big problem: supply chain. Weather issues, shipping issues, tariffs, production problems – these can all impact your business if companies can’t get the needed abrasives, adhesives, tapes, saw blades, and other equipment to you. Just looking at 2021, ice storms in Texas have prevented chemicals from being produced, including those used for adhesives and cleaning supplies. 

Wholesale distribution companies have many relationships with a variety of vendors to make up for shortfalls. For example, if they can’t get a product from one vendor, they’ll get it from another. That relationship management ensures you’re getting what you need so you can make and build on schedule, too with the same quality you’re known for. 

Keeping supply and demand, saving money, reducing time, and making it easy are the primary reasons so many midsized manufacturing and construction companies turn to industrial suppliers.  

How to Consolidate Vendors 

vendor consolidation

Consolidating vendors is easier than you may think, but it does take some planning and considerations. Here are a few questions to start asking to begin the consolidation process. Which vendors … 

  • Meet current guidelines and timelines? 
  • Provide great customer service? 
  • Have a variety of supplies available and can leverage relationships to get more supplies? 
  • Are giving price breaks for quantity or based on your existing relationship? 
  • Can help manage inventory, recommend products, and provide ideas about processes, saving your business time and money? 
  • Do you like doing business with? 
  • Can handle whatever expansion you have planned? 
  • Have expertise in your industry and the supplies you need? 
  • Help manage the supply chain? 

Some vendors get a “yes” to all the questions above. Those are the vendors to keep and possibly expand a relationship with.  

By deciding which vendors can help you the most (and which vendors you like doing business with), you can determine which vendors you want.  

Elevated can help you consolidate vendors 

At Elevated Industrial Solutions, formerly known as Lane Supply Company, we can help you with a variety of your needs. Not only do we carry manufacturing and construction specialty items, but we also leverage our relationships to get all the products your facility needs. We can help you manage your inventory and even manage your safety stock.  

There’s a reason we’ve been in business 60+ years.  

Safety stock and inventory management

You have a facility or warehouse where you keep items needed to run your business. It’s where you keep abrasives, adhesives, sealants, tools, and more. Imagine running out of those items, one that’s critical to what you make or build. Your business may grind to a halt, waiting until you can source that needed inventory.  

That’s the problem safety stock is meant to address. But safety stock alone won’t completely help your business. You need to successfully manage inventory to keep production going. 

What is safety stock? 

Safety stock is that extra group of supplies needed to prevent running out of products so you can continue to make and build things for customers. As Accounting Coach called it, it’s a buffer in case the sales of an item are greater than planned and/or the company’s supplier is unable to deliver additional units at the expected time. 

Advantages of safety stock 

Safety stock has its advantages. But the bottom line is – it enables you to handle supply and demand. When there’s more demand, you have enough of what you need to continue to satisfy customers.  

stock and streamlining supply chain

One real-life example in our industry is a manufacturing company that needed a specific filter for its spray booth. When that specific filter wasn’t available from one supplier, the company nearly stopped making products. After calling Elevated Industrial Solutions, formerly known as Lane Supply Company, filters arrived and their stock was replenished. 

Let’s use another example outside of industrial supplies – computers. There’s been a shortage. During COVID-19, everyone has been going online – students, employees, and individuals. Many computer stores and computer resellers didn’t have enough safety stock to supply computers to students at every school district in the U.S. They also didn’t have enough stock for everyone hoping to upgrade antiquated computer equipment. 

Disadvantages of safety stock 

When there’s not enough customer demand, products can languish in your inventory. Sometimes, better products or technology comes along too, making your current supplies unusable. New and improved discs, adhesives, safety gear, and more are released regularly.  

Although it’s helpful to have safety stock available, it can be costly and wasteful. It’s also difficult to keep up with and plan, especially if you’re not an enterprise-sized business. 

Suppliers can manage safety stock and inventory 

Someone else, such as a supplier like Elevated, managing your inventory takes care of many of the safety stock issues. In fact, it can help streamline your business. Using suppliers to manage your inventory and safety stock does the following:  

  • Depending on the supplier agreement, you can keep unneeded supplies off your books, paying for what you need when you need them – reducing costs and eliminating waste.  
  • Reduces liability if demand suddenly drops. If something does happen and supplies aren’t needed, it’s not your issue – it’s your supplier’s, such as Elevated. That saves you money. 
  • Enables you to receive recommendations for better products that save you time and money or improve the quality of your products. These recommendations could equal more revenue. 
  • Provides advanced notice of pricing changes or supply shortfalls so you can adjust your budgeting, manufacturing, and delivery promises. Suppliers, because of relationships, understand what’s happening so you’re never surprised. (Surprises in manufacturing can be expensive!) 
  • Saves money and time on personnel and warehouse space to maintain and control supplies you may not need for a while.  
  • Optimizes your facility or plant so you can focus on what you do best – making great products.  

A magical combination  

inventory management and safety stock

Safety stock and inventory management together are a magical combination. When suppliers help with both, you have a team handling vendor relationships, providing space, managing inventory, and ensuring you have the supplies you need … without paying for that entire team. Your supply chain is streamlined. Safety stock and inventory management, when put together, take the worry out of keeping your company and projects moving. Best of all, with that extra team behind you, you can compete like your company is larger than it is.  

Saving money, reducing waste, improving products, and increasing revenue are all good reasons to invest in suppliers that can handle your inventory.  

Trusting suppliers with many years in the business, a wide variety of products, and relationships that span the supply spectrum ensure you’re getting the right vendor.  

Finding the right supplier

There are traits that some vendors have that make them better than others. Here are just a few of the characteristics you should be looking for:

  • Provide expertise to save you time and money while improving the quality of your products or service
  • Have great customer service, taking the time to answer questions
  • Use a wide variety of vendors with fantastic relationships, where getting those specialty items is easy
  • Fast shipping to get what you need when you need it
  • Do the right thing for you and your company, caring about you and your business

Elevated is the right supplier

Elevated has been in business for more than half a century. We have employees who’ve been in the supply business for nearly as long, recommending products to save time and money. And we have established relationships with vendors who provide the supplies you love, including those specialty items, that save you time and money while improving your products.  

Don’t get fooled – go with the real deal (Kaeser and dealer expertise)

We’ve all been there. I would wager we’ve all done it. When it comes time to get an oil change or replace our windshield wipers, we want to go for the store brand, not the genuine replacement part. It’s cheaper. Isn’t it? It’s just as good. Right?

I’m not an automotive expert, so I’m not going to debate the merits of saving a few bucks on windshield wipers. However, I would like to point out a few key points to consider when you are purchasing replacement parts for your compressor.


No doubt a key factor, when you were purchasing your compressor, is energy efficiency. You did the research, looked at the CAGI datasheets, and compared performance. That compressor was tested as it was packaged by the manufacturer using the manufacturer’s original parts. This may not seem like a big deal, but keep in mind that every component inside the compressor is crucial to its performance, thus its efficiency. For example, intake filters are susceptible to pressure drop; every 2 psi in pressure drop costs 1% of compressor horsepower in efficiency. If you use an aftermarket filter, you might not get the compressor efficiency you are expecting. And that will cost you money—possibly more than you are saving by going with the cheaper part.

Service intervals

kaeser compressors

Your unit came with a manual that has a host of useful information from the manufacturer—including recommended service intervals. Those intervals are based on the extensive testing done using their original parts included in the machine, not aftermarket ones. You might be ok using the same guidelines, but there is really no way of knowing simply because the manufacturer didn’t test the unit using those aftermarket parts.


The material compatibility of the aftermarket parts has not been tested with the compressor. Neither has the durability of those aftermarket parts. Quite often we see new issues develop, for example, higher oil carryover from using a sub-par replacement separator element. Other issues such as higher pressure losses after shorter operating periods, compromised machine safety, and air quality not being met are also common. Further, depending on what your manufacturer’s stated warranty is, using aftermarket parts can void it.

To be fair, there are quality aftermarket parts manufacturers out there—their products, however, have just not been thoroughly tested with the compressor, which can lead to problems and concerns. Be careful and be aware. Your best bet is to contact the compressor manufacturer and go with their genuine replacement parts. I didn’t really save any money by getting the store-brand windshield wipers. They lasted maybe four months. The genuine replacement part wipers that are now on my car have lasted more than a year and they only cost a few dollars more. They also work better.

I guess that goes to show that you get what you pay for. Pay now or pay way more later!

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