The Value of Trust

The Value of Trust

Last month, I disappointed a customer; but I still believe I built long-term trust.

Although the case itself was small, it serves as a good example for why small things matter to Danzer, particularly in regards to trust. Our customer had planned to use our Danzer Custom Solutions services for a challenging yacht project. After we had evaluated the technical feasibility months ago, the customer was ready to get started. At the time, we had already pointed out that at Danzer, we follow strict rules regarding the legality and sustainability of all of our wood.

Only now it turned out that our customer would like us to process Teak, which he would be providing. Teak is a high-risk species, which we generally don’t use, unless the proof of legality and sustainability is beyond any doubt. The customer was working on a tight schedule and depended on our help. Our Custom Solutions Team was torn between wanting to fulfill the job and sticking to the Danzer no-Teak policy. The team leader asked for my advice.

The customer had provided him with a certificate showing that the Teak had been exported legally, but it did not reveal anything about where and how it had been harvested. It might well have been legal, but we couldn’t be sure. I asked our Environmental Department for help. They did the appropriate research including talking to local experts in Myanmar, and in the end advised we should not accept that job. Due to this information, our Custom Solutions Department had to let their customer down.


Building trust doesn’t allow for even the tiniest of exceptions. I found an example of this in a local newspaper earlier this year. A waste management firm in Austria had been accused of disposing waste illegally. Local newspapers showed unpleasant images of plastic waste, empty cans and all kinds of trash in the midst of grasslands where cows grazed.

I thought, “What a rotten company, disposing all of their waste like that”. Later I learned that the company had disposed far less than 1% of their waste illegally. The other 99% of their employees worked diligently and responsibly, but that didn’t count anymore. The image of trash in the fields stuck in your mind. The actions of a few members of the organization made this company almost implode. There was no trust left.


In the case above, I could have argued that it was only a small job, or that the legality export certificate showed that the material should be legal, or that we never really owned the material, we just process it and then give it back, or if we don’t do the job, someone else will, and so on, but I didn’t. We tried to help the customer. We checked the facts and proposed alternate solutions. In the end I decided to not take the order, because I knew it was not the right thing to do. We might have disappointed our customer short-term, but if I had decided otherwise, I would have jeopardized the actions of so many people at Danzer who work diligently every day, serving our customers and accumulating long term-trust.

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About the Author

Eckart Schmitt

CEO Danzer Specialty Division

Eckart Schmitt works on developing, producing and marketing technical veneers for Danzer. He focuses his organization's sales and marketing efforts on architects, designers and product developers who want to realize projects with wood that perform technically and commercially. He has worked in architectural sales for other building products before. Today, he also represents the marketing function at the Danzer Corporate level and believes in the old marketing adage: Give your very best and talk about it. He lives with his family close to Lake Constance.