"The following series of reports describes how three pairs of industry partners - yes, 'partners' - are using technology to cut costs, boost efficiency and, in general, make their relationships more productive.

"A skeptical reader, hardened by the daily bump-and-grind of our industry's competitive wars, may react with surprise to the underlying message of these profiles - that wholesalers and manufacturers really can work together for each other's financial benefit.

"But isn't it amazing what can be accomplished when the very survival of your business is at stake?"

So begins "High Performance Partnering," a booklet published by the Vendor Member Division of ASA, highlighting three case studies that illustrate the benefits of vendor managed inventory, electronic data interchange, and a company's use of the internet for sophisticated product training.

"The days of beating up a vendor for an extra five are gone. VMI can be a winning deal for both parties," says Rich Schwartz, chairman of Winwholesale. In the "Partnering" study, Schwartz describes his company's payoff achieved through their dealings with NIBCO, Inc. Rex Martin, president of NIBCO, also shares insights into how VMI has created win-win benefits for both the manufacturer and the distributors who take the plunge to enable the system.

"The goal is to get rid of the damned mountains of paper we've always had to deal with, and EDI does exactly that," says Mickey Weinstein, president of Ridgewood Supply, in another of the booklet's case studies. Weinstein's partner in this case is David Siegal, president and CEO of Hercules Chemical, one of technology's most ardent advocates. In their case study, Siegal and Weinstein talk about the multiple benefits that their electronic business relationship has brought to both parties.

The third partnership explored in the study revolves around the extranet site developed by American Standard, and the way it has vastly improved the service and information needs of Consolidated Supply Co. of Oregon. David Lipkin, Standard's vice president/wholesale sales, and the late Karl Neupert, president of Consolidated, freely share information about the positive effects technology has had on both of their businesses.

The booklet concludes with an urgent call to action from Jack Hester, ASA's president, and Dennis Broderick of In-Sink-Erator, chairman of VMD.

Not only does the booklet highlight case studies and offer tips for wholesalers and manufacturers to get on the bandwagon, but it also provides a unique set of supply chain excellence benchmarks and self-test checklists for manufacturers wishing to evaluate their own performance against that of the industry top performers.

"High Performance Partnering" was written by John O'Reilly, former editor of Supply House Times, now a partner with Loran Nordgren & Co. Copies of the booklet were sent to all ASA members in December. For more information, contact ASA at 312-464-0090 or contact Julianne Bendel at ASA at jbendel@asa.net.