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Is a Market Shift Emerging with Legacy Suppliers?

Sitting at lunch last Thursday at Argonne National Labs, I had a short but very nice conversation with a supplier seated next to me. We were attending an IEEE event, "An Engineered Future."
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My lunch companion was from Florida, an exhibitor whose sales territory brought him up into the Midwest.

Talking about trends, I mentioned our growth in advertising with competitive vendors pouring on the marketing dollars because of retiring engineers who had been recommending the same legacy vendor for twenty or thirty years. 

That's quite a relationship with a supplier. These older gatekeepers also served as roadblocks to letting new vendors get a shot at selling the team.

As these legacy people retire, other vendors with new or different ideas (not necessarily better, mind you) might finally get a chance to tell their story.

"That's funny," he looked slightly shocked. "That just happened to us.  We had been trying with this guy for years, and could not get through.  He left and the new guy is giving us an appointment."

In some markets up to 60% of the current AW readers in operations, engineering and IT are going to be retiring in the next ten years. Not all will. Some are staying longer trying to rebuild 401K losses, tempering the trend a bit.

In the next decade, as the “graybeards retire”, will the new breed of engineer have an open mind to alternative solutions providers? I think so.

Legacy vendors are not sitting still, however, they are listening and responding to user needs and complaints, and concentrating on entry-level product offerings.  Two or three automation exhibitors at Pack Expo a few weeks back mentioned free software, wider variety of low price products, compatibility. Some simpler, stripped down versions of successful products were also on display.

And just because my lunch buddy got the call does not mean he’ll get the order. But, I think its safe to say, stick around, things are going to get interesting.


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