President Theodore Roosevelt said the following, “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The next best thing is the wrong thing and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

Let’s focus on part three of that quote. In our industry, technology, the economy and other political/regulatory factors have created an ever-changing business environment. Those companies that follow part three verbatim likely will suffer in some shape or form.

I’m happy to report there are many PHCP-PVF companies doing the exact opposite. That was evident at the AD and WIT buying group awards ceremonies I recently attended (coverage of those meetings can be found on pages 10 and 52, respectively).

On display were proactive distributors making things happen — whether it’s Thos. Somerville using AD’s Field Marketing Summit concept to help move its showroom arm forward or Northern California-based WIT member Rubenstein Supply partnering with a local university on marketing initiatives that resulted in a new-customer spike.

Winsupply also is on the forward-thinking train when it comes to its interactions with the manufacturers reps that do business with its legion of 570 local companies.

Expanding on its original Rep Council concept where every eight months Winsupply executives meet with council members comprised of manufacturers rep executives, the Dayton, Ohio-based distributor is conducting regional Winsupply Rep Summit events in six cities this fall. The first four summits (Denver; Hartford, Conn.; Richmond, Va.; and Kansas City, Mo.) attracted a total 174 independent reps.

The summits are designed to help educate reps on the Winsupply business model of local entrepreneurial ownership and the importance of building relationships with local Win companies.

Winsupply Vice President of Vendor Relations Eddie Gibbs remembers a pair of instances within the last six years that helped put the wheels in motion for both the company’s popular biannual Vendor Summit and the Rep Council.

“We had been doing business with this company for 40 years and they asked for me to explain the Winsupply financial and ownership model,” he says. “At our first Rep Council meeting, after Monte (Winsupply COO Salsman) finished going over the financial component of the company, a rep raised his hand and asked ‘Who was supposed to tell us all this stuff?’ That caught us flat-footed.”

Gibbs says communication is critical between local Win companies and the reps it does business with, particularly with high turnover rates occurring at the manufacturing executive level. He notes of the manufacturing executives that attended the first Winsupply Vendor Summit in 2010, only 47% remain in their positions today.

“How is information getting down to the manufacturers’ salesforce?” he asks. “The goal here is when reps call on our local companies there are no misunderstandings or urban legends that have crept into the relationship. We want to make sure our local companies and the local reps are building strong relationships.”

Gibbs and Winsupply Vice President of Sales Michael Souders say the response to the summits has been overwhelmingly positive. “Think about one of your best or targeted customers coming to you and saying let me tell you everything you need to know to be more successful,” Souders says. “That’s what salespeople work for every day. We’re pulling back the curtain and sharing our philosophy, procedures and growth strategies. We are creating a playbook to take the steps to form a more successful relationship between the reps and our local companies and making sure both sides add value and are relevant to the local market.”

Bill Freeman, of Orlando, Fla.-based Spirit Group, has participated in several Rep Council events and is scheduled to attend one of the upcoming summits. “The summits will benefit the reps who attend,” he says. “They get to meet people from the top of the company they otherwise may not have been able to meet and learn about Win’s business model. You learn how to serve the local branches better — how to be a better rep for their companies.”

Souters references the Golden Triangle of business philosophy to convey what Winsupply’s ultimate goal is with the summits. “For business to be conducted locally, you need to have local participation,” he says. “And the only three people locally are the contractor, the rep and the distributor. We want to strengthen those relationships.”

And like many others are doing in our industry with their innovations, these summits will only help increase the strength of the PHCP-PVF supply chain going forward.


This article was originally titled “Make it happen” in the October 2016 print edition of Supply House Times.