I'm leading a project that involves purchase and installation of some extremely specialized equipment. Within this market there are only a 3-4 players worldwide and only 1 that operates in my country. As such I'm effectively forced to deal with their local distributor (which is a separate entity and a one man show). Since the beginning of the project my team has complained about snide or rude remarks from the distributor. I discussed this with my procurement guy and was told this is typical of this distributor, that he will take jabs at people then backpedal when called out and that his behavior doesn't change after being called out. I personally experienced it for the first time this week and can see it impacting morale given the duration of this project.
I have been considering options. Directly addressing the problem doesn't lead to lasting change and he doesn't have a boss to complain to. I've considered complaining to the manufacturer but see that as the nuclear option as this is a very lucrative contract for the distributor and I would expect the negative behavior to ramp up if they don't have an alternative lined up and he catches wind of it.
As things sit now the only option I see is ride it out, filter all interactions through me, I'll push back every instance where business decorum is not met, document everything, and make the complaint to the manufacturer in 14-16 months when the project is complete. It's slow and maybe ineffective but it's the only thing I can think of.
Am I missing a better way to deal with a niche supplier taking advantage of their position to be rude?