As publisher of Supply House Times, I feel a tremendous sense of responsibility, sort of like being the keeper of the crown jewels. Supply House Times has been the premier publication of the PHCP wholesaler sector of the industry for many years. Going all the way back to the Charlie Horton era, it was the dominant magazine of the industry, period.
I wasn't involved in this business back then, but we have three veterans of the Horton era in key positions on our staff: group publisher George Zebrowski, editor Jim Olsztynski, and national sales manager Scott Franz. They, as well as countless others, have filled my imagination with incredible anecdotes of those past good times. It remains to be seen whether we can ever recapture the exalted stature Supply House Times enjoyed during its glory days. But this I know for sure: Business News Publishing Co. is the organization best equipped to do so.
George and Jim have implemented Charlie Horton?s publishing philosophy in our other highly successful plumbing industry publications -- Plumbing & Mechanical, PM Engineer and the PHC Profit Report newsletter. Simply stated, that philosophy is that we are part of, and an advocate for, the industry served by our magazines. That same philosophy will guide our actions with Supply House Times.
We have a lot in common with the PHCP wholesaler, rep and manufacturer communities. Although we're growing like mad, we're still a small company compared with the giant conglomerates that dominate trade publishing these days. The same holds true for most of you. Although even "small" wholesalers are not so small nowadays, we believe that the smaller wholesalers have a nimbleness about them that counteracts many of the advantages that accrue with size.
We are in the fourth generation of family ownership and leadership. Most of you operate long-standing family businesses. We believe that independent family-owned wholesalers still have a bright future in this industry.
We have something else in common with Supply House Times' readers and advertisers. That is, we understand that business is about more than business. It's also about relationships.
Relationships are the guiding force in our personal lives, in our family lives, our social lives, our spiritual lives and, finally, in our business lives. Yes, we must deliver value, but we come to understand how to do that through personal relationships with our readers and advertisers. This attitude has been imbedded in whats been known for many years as "The Seven Principles of Business News Publishing Co." They are:
1. Know our subscribers and advertisers.
2. Hear their problems, and solve them.
3. Know their needs, and package information to fulfill them.
4. Prove the value of our readers to our advertisers.
5. Achieve whatever we aim for and aim for more than we achieve.
6. Ask questions of, listen to, and learn from everyone.
7. Above all, GET THINGS DONE ON TIME!
My responsibility is to see that we abide by these principles. If you read them closely, you'll see they are mostly about relationships. We intend to get as close as humanly possible to our subscribers and advertisers, and passionately champion the cause of the wholesaler. Jim Olsztynski goes into great detail about this in his cover essay titled "Why Wholesalers Still Matter." I'm sure every one of you will want to read it. Jim does a masterful job, in my opinion, of explaining things from the wholesalers' point of view.
In my job, I will be dealing mostly with the advertising community. I'd like to take a moment to briefly illuminate some of the reasons why wholesalers still matter to you.
1. Wholesalers decide whether or not to carry your products.
2. Wholesalers recommend substitutes when customers ask for products they don?t carry.
3. Wholesalers are in touch on a daily basis with your contractor customers. Your salespeople, no matter how hard they work, simply can't see as many contractors as wholesaler personnel do.
4. Supply house counter workers have enormous say over which products get purchased.
5. Wholesalers virtually alone determine which commodity brands contractors buy.
6. Wholesaler showrooms are some of the best marketing vehicles around for big-ticket merchandise.
7. Branch personnel have a big say in which vendors their parent companies patronize.
8. Wholesalers have a big say in which vendors their buying groups patronize.
9. A large percentage of contractors buy product that is only sold through traditional distribution channels.
10. Neither wholesalers nor anyone else can keep track of the vast array of merchandise out there. They need to be informed through advertising.
11. Advertising reinforces the value of your brand even to existing customers.
12. Your profit margin on products sold through a wholesaler is much higher than on products sold through big-box stores.
Our responsibility will be to work hard to rebuild those relationships that have gone by the wayside, as well as develop many new strong ones along the way. Feel free to call me to discuss anything under the sun.