On a somewhat unrelated note, this morning’s article in the Tulsa World regarding the proposed merger between Energy Transfer Equity based in Dallas, TX and Tulsa based Williams Companies provided a stark reminder of how important strong, locally based companies are to the Tulsa economy.
The gist of the article is that, contrary to the initial regulatory filing announcing the planned merger, the strong local presence of Williams (including hundreds of high paying jobs) is likely to be completely destroyed for the merger. This stands in stark contrast to the initial announcement promising to keep a very strong local presence in both Tulsa and OKC.
You can read the complete article here.
Now let me be quite clear. I am very supportive of the free market and competition among businesses in general. But again, this article (again, somewhat unrelated to the point I’d like to make in this article) hammers home the importance of strong local companies to the continued viability of Tulsa as a thriving place to live, work and raise a family.
Let me explain.
Every day we (and almost every local business) face competition from out of state suppliers offering products online. There is absolutely nothing wrong with online competition when it allows consumers to save significant amounts of money or obtain products that they otherwise are unable to obtain locally. This keeps a local business like us sharp and makes us continually refine our processes and product offerings to stay competitive.
Where online/non-local competition hurts is when local companies and/or consumers make purchases online that could just as easily be made locally at a very similar price point. Let me provide some scenarios in support of this:
- We are in the business of making signs which means we deal heavily with local builders and real estate agents. Real estate is a business that relies almost solely on local customers (with the exception of non-local customers purchasing investment properties). In turn, our employees are also potential customers to buy and/or build homes. So when the local realtor or builder purchases signs locally, they are doing themselves a favor by putting money back into the hands of potential local customers. This is not the case if the decision is made to purchase from a non-local vendor in Dallas, TX, for instance. In that case, dollars are being put into play in another market and they can never provide benefit to help grow local demand for housing options.
- We are also in the business of printing custom apparel. This is one area in particular where we consistently “shop” our online competition to be certain that our prices are competitive. We can share countless tales of a customer who purchased custom printed shirts online to save a few pennies and ended up receiving a poor quality product. We have served the Tulsa community now for 66 years, and God willing, will do so for another 66. Not only does that mean you can deal face to face if there is an issue that needs to be corrected. It also means that an issue is less likely in the first place since we know we’ll have to face our customer and stand behind our work. The same cannot be said about an out of state supplier who will never interact face to face with their customer.
- The ownership team of U.S. Sign & Screenprinting LLC is extremely committed to the Tulsa community, as are business owners in countless cities across the nation. We gave $21,874 to charitable causes in 2015. Your support of us as a local business during 2015 directly led to thousands of dollars reaching families in need in the Tulsa area last year. This provides a quality of life boost to everyone in Tulsa. I am certain that other business owners across the nation also give in similar amounts to their communities. But given the choice of having your dollars help those in need here in Tulsa or somewhere else, we feel that this is another compelling argument in favor of dealing locally.
Let me be clear again that competition is a must for a healthy economy. It is also a must if consumers are to achieve the good deals they desire. I simply urge you to spend time seeking out local options when you need to make a purchase. If a local option provides a good product at a good value, give them your business.
At U.S. Sign & Screenprinting LLC, we are a team of 11 that works hard day in and day out to serve local customers (and customers who have grown their local businesses to have a national reach). We are also a team of 11 that are local consumers and potential customers for you.