Many building materials companies have seen that “Made in America” is a nice thing to say that seldom results in additional sales. Customers will claim they prefer products that are “Made in America” but they are usually still attracted to a lower price and quickly lose their concern for where a product is made.
Because of this, it frequently makes financial sense to move production out of the US. Unfortunately, this can put many workers out of a job and devastate communities.
If you haven’t seen this video, you should watch it to learn how not to do something.
I’m not a PR expert, but it’s obvious that this is a PR disaster. This is just more evidence that the building materials industry is, at least, ten years behind other types of companies when it comes to marketing.
It’s hard to imagine just how dumb this was. Carrier is a large company who is owned by an even larger company, United Technologies. You’d think they would know better. I wonder if someone like a plant manager just took it upon himself to get the bad news out of the way. Or maybe he personalized some issues he had with a union. Whatever it was it was surprisingly stupid.
Just like you should assume that every email you send could appear in the news or be used in court, you need to remember that everyone now has a video camera and an easy way to share it with the world.
The timing couldn’t have been worse. Announcing this during a presidential election just further puts Carrier in a bad light as politicians call out Carrier as a big bad, Unamerican company.
A professional PR firm should have been engaged to manage this. This could have just been another US company moving production, but they let themselves become the poster boy for big bad, insensitive business.
How Much Will This Cost Carrier?
There are already stories of HVAC contractors boycotting Carrier. If you are a new home builder, you will probably be trying to cover up the Carrier logos before you switch to one of their competitors.
They need to hire a crisis management firm to get them out of this mess.
How Competitors Can Benefit
I don’t care where your products are made. Carrier is the bad guy today. Distributors, contractors, builders and even architects will not want to be associated with Carrier for awhile. If you have a good story about how many people you employ in the US or other good things you do, get it together and have a PR firm help you spread the word. Get your sales people on overtime as this is a great opportunity to convert Carrier customers. This won’t last long, and Carrier is probably already working on a response. The good thing is that they are so big it will take them months to get their act together.
Every few years there is a company who sticks their foot in it and serves as the poster boy for how not to do something. While I know Carrier will recover from this, I hope the lessons from this are not forgotten by other building materials executives.