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Disributors Discuss Initiatives

Each of the distribution companies TWICE talked to for our fall distributor roundup has a unique approach to catering to their respective customer bases. A number of the executives we interviewed were forthcoming with details and explanations behind some of their company’s most recent projects and initiatives.

Warren Chaiken, president and COO of Almo, reminded TWICE that his organization had recently launched an initiative to add more accessory products to its line card.

“As CE and appliance margins continue to erode, our dealers are in need of the best-in-class name brands that boost their add-on sales opportunities and their bottom line. Therefore, we have deliberately expanded our line card to include select A/V accessory manufacturers with brand draw like Monster Power and Cable, Peerless Mounts and more. We will continue to add high-quality, high-margin accessory brands to our line card in 2008,” he said.

Joel Blank, purchasing executive VP at BDI-Laguna, said that his company had made moves to provide tools to help its customers to help run their businesses more successfully. By way of example, he noted that his company can provide two-hour turnaround time on orders, a “white-glove delivery service,” and “an advanced product setup team and online merchandising support to support shifts in consumers’ purchasing more products online than ever before.”

Blank said “We believe that the distribution business is changing, and how we work in partnership with our customers is essential to everyone’s success.”

Petra president Bill Stewart told TWICE “Our 50,000-square-foot warehouse expansion was certainly a necessity for us because we continue to add several new manufacturers to our product selection.”

Stewart also said, “We continue to offer services such as no minimum order and free freight programs in an effort to pass along savings to our dealers. Receiving their orders quickly is important to our dealers so we have an extended cut-off time so customers can order until 6 p.m. CST and still count on same-day shipping.

“We also encourage them to use our 24-hour online ordering with real-time inventory and pricing. We offer complete blind drop-shipping with full EDI capabilities, and customized packing slips. Best of all, we offer a lowest-price guarantee that promises to beat any competitor’s price, even if it is an advertised special.”

Henry Chiarelli, president of DBL Distributing, noted that in addition to his organization’s recently released 2007/2008 product catalog, the company also offers a series of “’Special Buys’ in all CE categories,” which he says will offer “exclusive product purchase opportunities at hot prices, providing our customers with amazing deals.”

Chiarelli added that DBL is also offering a new hotline for its dealers to call if the distributor hasn’t successfully met the dealer’s order expectations. “Since our core goal is the ultimate in customer satisfaction, this hotline will ensure that we are meeting the needs of each and every customer,” he said.

Both D&H and Electrograph reported on their dealer education efforts.

Rob Eby, D&H Distributing’s purchasing director, said that his company is “stepping up its educational efforts for dealers, integrators and installers through increased training sessions at each of its regional trade show events.”

Eby noted that the D&H Fall Mid-Atlantic Technology Show, held Oct. 9 (see box below), featured seminars on digital signage, video surveillance and the analog-to-digital TV transition. Next year, he said, “D&H plans to provide an even greater volume of [home entertainment-] and CE-related sessions represented over the course of the full year’s event schedule.”

Electrograph president Sam Taylor told TWICE that his company announced a partnership with CEDIA in September “as a way to provide residential educational opportunities to resellers at our Display Technology Experience (DTE) events.”

According to Taylor, The National Systems Contractors Association (NSCA) and CEDIA co-developed a Multi-Dwelling Unit (MDU) curriculum to launch through Electrograph’s DTE program.

“We just finished our DTE event in New York, and the MDU course was by far one of the most popular sessions,” said Taylor.