Changes in Operations and Structure Are All Part of the 'New Normal'
Recently I interviewed Keith Bienvenu, incoming president of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors – National Association, for an article that appears in Supply House Times’ sister publication Plumbing & Mechanical and on www.PMMag.com.
Bienvenu told me PHCC is advising your contractor customers to take this time to analyze their company’s structure and business practices to adapt their operations to the “new normal” of a constantly changing marketplace. You can apply this advice whether your business is contracting, wholesaling, manufacturing or even publishing.
At Supply House Times, we’ve experienced a number of changes in our structure in the last two months. These include Jim Olsztynski leaving his editor’s position. Jim’s last column as editor appeared in this space last month.
In the column, Jim cautioned that this page should be devoted to what’s happening in your world, not ours. This is good advice too, although I’ve always been struck by the fact that the challenges you face in your business frequently mirror the ones we face in ours.
Adapting our businesses to a changing market is something all of us have had to do for a long time. When I first joined Supply House Times as an associate editor in 1990, the explosive growth of big-box retailers was threatening the very existence of the plumbing wholesale business.
Or, so the experts at the time said. The Home Depot and others changed the game for sure, but the big boxes also expanded the home-improvement market to new groups of customers. As a result, many of you adapted your companies to take advantage of new opportunities.
When I returned to Supply House Times in the late 1990s as its editorial director, the new threat to your business was coming from the dot.coms that were going to replace brick-and-mortar supply houses. I attended any number of lavish receptions hosted by well-funded start-ups that told us how they would change the distribution business.
Many of you responded by building your own websites and connecting with your customers electronically. You saw the cost-saving value of these online selling initiatives while also realizing that technology would not replace the relationships you had developed with your customers over the years.
What’s new about the “new normal” today isn’t that change is happening. It’s really about the pace at which change occurs.
You’re going to have to make sure your company is structured to adapt to the rapid pace of the market. Bienvenu went on to say that many PHCC members already have made changes that put them in a good position for whatever the future brings.
We believe changes we’re making at Supply House Times will help us do a better job of meeting your information needs and connecting you with your industry partners. Just one example is Supply House Times’ digital edition, which you receive each month in addition to your print magazine if you provide us with an opt-in email address. The digital edition gives you instant access to manufacturers, ASA and other industry associations, buying groups, and Supply House Times’ staff via links in articles and ads.
You’ll notice the titles of Supply House Times’ editorial and sales staff members are changing, too. The new titles emphasize that Supply House Times provides information to you over a variety of platforms, such as print and digital magazines, websites, e-newsletters, Webinars, live events, virtual trade shows, videos and social media.
Supply House Times Publisher Scott Franz now is an Integrated Media Specialist and will focus his energies on the marketing needs of many of your vendor partners. Our Online and New Products Editor Suzette Rubio now is our Web Content and Engagement Manager to reflect the great work she does on www.SupplyHT.com, Facebook and Twitter.
We’re also working to upgrade our content by having Supply House Times’ staff specialize in niches within the plumbing-heating-piping industry. New to our editorial staff is Integrated Content Specialist John McNally who will cover the bath-and-kitchen market. In addition to being Brand Leader of our Plumbing Group, I’ll coordinate Supply House Times’ industrial PVF coverage.
Adapting to change isn’t always easy, especially at a pace that can take you out of your comfort zone. As we’ve seen in the past, change also can bring opportunities.