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By textbook definition, a commodity is an interchangeable product--in other words, there is no true difference between the same product produced by different manufacturers. In the real world, however, every ready-mix producer knows there is a difference between their concrete and that produced by a competitor. Unfortunately many contractors view concrete as a textbook commodity. As a result, they select a supplier based on price. In the next few years, competition will increase for producers of commodity items. The best profit margins and volume growth will go to those producers that successfully differentiate themselves from their competitors. One way to do this is to provide a consistent product. A consistent product provides more than consistent mixtures: the product should perform consistently in different applications. In order for a product to do this, the producer must have knowledge and control of different variables affecting its performance. The producer who is willing to gather this knowledge is providing solutions, rather than a commodity.