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Distributor Roundtable Discussion

Explore expert insights from industry leaders in our roundtable discussions. Dive into best practices, strategies, and success drivers in building product distribution. Elevate your business know-how.

Photo by Nik Shuliahin 💛💙 / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Distributor members of the NBMDA steering committee are seasoned, successful industry veterans and leaders in their markets. They have an in-depth understanding of the building products distribution business and are known for delivering outstanding service and exceptional value.

S&P approached these distributor members and inquired about the essential attributes and values that drive their businesses' success. Here’s a glimpse of what some had to say:

1. Place Value:
Jim Ellis, Business Manager for Bennett Supply Co., headquartered in Cheswick, Pennsylvania, explains,

“Place value is crucial for us. It's about having the right product in the right place at the right time, ensuring good lead times, and product availability. Our primary clientele includes small to mid-sized firms, and forecasting is essential for them. Ensuring they get what they want, where and when they want it, is paramount.”

2. Strategic Alignment:
Craig Goodman, Branch Manager of Amerhart Ltd. in Green Bay, Wisconsin, states,

“The way Amerhart has operated for 75 years is our top benefit. We emphasize alignment around people, technology, and services. This continuous alignment, backed by education, training, skills development, and monthly product meetings, ensures customers receive prompt, accurate answers from us.”

3. Relationships Built on Trust, Respect, and Integrity:
Al Harrison, Vice President of the Industrial Division of Intermountain Wood Products in Salt Lake City, Utah, remarks,

“Our approach is simple. We build relationships based on trust, respect, and integrity. Our salespeople are deeply rooted in the industry, giving our customers confidence in our advice. We're honored when they seek our counsel.”

4. Consultative Selling:
Kevin Slabaugh, Vice President of the U.S. Division of McKillican International, headquartered in Edmonton, Alberta, shares,

“Our value lies in understanding our customer’s needs. We engage them in a five-step selling process, starting with a discovery phase. It's an advanced form of consultative selling where we provide solutions tailored to improve their ROI.”

brown cardboard boxes on white metal rack
Photo by CHUTTERSNAP / Unsplash

Supplier Roundtable Discussion

True Partnership:
Jeff Takac, Managing Director – North America, IVM Chemicals, representing the Milesi Wood Coatings brand, elaborates,

“Our most successful distributors seek genuine partnerships. We aim for lasting, mutually beneficial relationships, emphasizing continuous communication, joint goal-setting, and mutual investment.”

Passion from the Top Down:
Allen Ellis, Regional Sales Manager at Valspar, explains,

“From my 25+ years of experience, successful distributors focus on planning, commitment, communication, accountability, and continuous review. It's about ensuring everyone's on the same page and making necessary adjustments for progress.”

Performance is Key:
Chad Cannon, Business Development Director at Roseburg Forest Products, describes their criteria for a distribution partner,

“We look for distributors with diverse portfolios, multiple branches, a solid market reputation, financial stability, high performance, knowledge of the market, and value-added services.”

Invest in People:
Brooks Bowen, Eastern Regional Manager at M.L. Campbell, opines,

“The best distributors aren't just about vast resources. It's about mutual commitment, trust, and investing in people. Extensive, continuous training is crucial given the technical nature of wood coatings.”
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko

Mutual Understanding of Success:
Melissa Herman, Sales Program Manager at Formica, points out,

“A good partner is one that's focused, engaged, and challenges us to deliver the best. They value the Formica brand, invest in their capabilities, and stay adaptive to market changes.”

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