Anti Trust Agreements
I am looking for a set of guidelines or “rules” for members of the SBCA. Are truss plants really not allowed to speak of business matters? I think that is unfair. I'm not going to call up our competitor and tell them that they aren't charging enough and taking all the business. I just want all the truss plants in my area to get together and decide how we are going to do business. We need to standardize the industry.
Here is the situation: A customer called us last month and wanted us to come measure a foundation for them so that we knew how to do the trusses. I say, that is not our job, but if we don't do it another truss company will. Then, after we measured the foundation, we compared it to the foundation plan and they matched, so the plan was given to a designer and he was told to build from the plan. After the job had been built and shipped, we were informed that our trusses were not correct. When the problem was investigated further, we found that the floor plan was drawn 1' larger than the foundation plan. How can this be our fault when we designed the trusses according to the plans? Well, the contractor says that since we measured the foundation it is our fault and we should have caught the difference and asked questions. This is ridiculous, but if we don't cooperate, we will lose the business to someone else.
The truss industry is losing a lot of money from people like this. We take responsibility even when we know it isn't our fault because we don't want our customers to go elsewhere. The truss industry should be able to meet and decide that if the contractor signs the layout saying that it is correct and then later comes back and say that it wasn't we ALL are going to say, I'm sorry but it is your fault. The contractors push everything onto the lumberyards, and then the lumberyards don't want to get stuck with it, so they push it off onto us. We don't have anybody to ditch it to, so we need to stand up when it isn't our fault and say it isn't our fault.
SBCA's Anti-trust Law Policy addresses the guidelines for association meetings. As far as the specific situation described, the problem is that it is a competitive market and there will always be someone looking to take away your business and use something like this to do so. The real key is to document everything that you are doing as well as you can and then try to enforce the fact that it was not your error and hope that you are dealing with an honorable contractor. This is certainly a topic worthy of discussing at the chapter meeting.
In this case you could probably win if you had an impartial judge review this. The problem is, is it worth the cost to go through all of this? That is a business decision. Again, having documentation that proves your case and has the builder accept his share of the responsibility is the way to set yourself up for a win-win solution. He also does not want to lose money. The real problem here is the group that drew the plans. That is who should pay for this.