Off the Schneid

At CONSTRUCT I asked a question at a trade show booth that I've been asking for years. I finally got a real answer. Now that the manufacturer is finally "off the schneid", I will consider using the product in future projects.

We're hockey fans in our family, and for a player to be "on the schneid" is to have not yet personally scored a goal in a game, deeper and deeper in the season. (Here's another explanation.) I think of it as failing, repeatedly, to meet expectations. When I say that a manufacturer is "on the schneid", they are failing to offer me the vital information I need in order to specify their products in my projects.

This particular manufacturer repeatedly refused to answer a question I felt was important to my work as a specifier: "What is the source for the product?" Sometimes I asked, "Animal, mineral, or vegetable?" I got all kinds of non-answers, like "It's a polymerized resin." I felt certain that the manufacturer hoped to hide the source because it didn't seem very green. This product has a Cradle-To-Cradle certification, so the manufacturer has paid big bucks for their green story, and I'm sure they didn't want to ruin their green image with specifics that seemed to contradict that story. The answer isn't in their literature or on their web site; it's clear that the information was intentionally withheld. When I pressed for my answer, I was told that the information was proprietary.

I finally got my answer, last week at the trade show. The product is, in fact, a petroleum distillate, not at all surprising in the context of the schneid. My reaction, though, was not to reject the product out of hand, which is perhaps what they feared. Rather, I was relieved. Now I have the data to balance the green story, which is actually quite admirable; the functionality, also impressive; and the environmental impact, which may still be less than that of competing products. I wouldn't feel right about specifying a product whose manufacturer refused to answer appropriate questions about resource use, but I can now reasonably consider using the product.

Consider carefully the information you consider proprietary. Will refusing to share it put you "on the schneid" with specifiers?