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Intelligence for Distributors
Cincinnati, Ohio-based DPA Buying Group on Friday announced it has added 14 new distributors and nine suppliers from the U.S. and Canada.
Distributors added to DPA’s industrial and contractor supply division include: Contractors Supply of Central Florida, Inc. (Belleview, Florida); Corbitt Safety Surplus (Sylacauga, Alabama); CW Supply and Logistics, LLC (Canal Winchester, Ohio); Darrell Ifft, dba Fairbury Fastener & Supply (Fairbury, Illinois); Eastman Products (Indianapolis, Indiana); Empire Hardware & Machinery Co. (Auburn, New York); Metro Products, Inc. (Fridley, Minnesota); Pioneer Products, Inc. (Mineola, New York); Radco Supply (Louisville, Kentucky); Royal Brass & Hose (Knoxville, Tennessee, headquarters); Savage Surplus (Savage, Minnesota); Southwestern Supply Company (Chandler, Arizona); Stanley Industries, Inc. (Clawson, Michigan); and Tri-J Tool and Fastener, Inc. (Grapevine, Texas).
DPA said it has also added nine new preferred suppliers since the beginning of the year: Alliance Hose & Rubber Co. (Elmhurst, Illinois); BESSEY Tools North America (Cambridge, Ontario); Bon Tool Co. (Gibsonia, Pennsylvania); Energizer Canada (Mississauga, Ontario); Jobsite Caddy (Indianapolis, Indiana); Komelon USA (Waukesha, Wisconsin); Mi-T-M Corporation (Peosta, Iowa); Precision Staffing Services (Cincinnati, Ohio); Rust-Oleum Corporation (Vernon Hills, Illinois).
When you think about big technology mergers and acquisitions, it’s unlikely you’ll think about distributors getting in the mix. Yet earlier this summer, that’s exactly what happened when B&D Industrial acquired GTI Predictive Technology, an internet-of-things company that conducts vibration analysis.
The promise of the IoT is that by connecting tools and appliances to the internet, the manufacturers and sellers of those items can gather more data in order to better understand their use. One of the most common examples is the smart thermostat, which can gather information on home heating and make automatic adjustments based on user preferences.
So what does a regional distributor want with an IoT company? The data, of course. Your e-commerce data may be more important than the products you sell.
This acquisition was the latest proof point that data is transforming the distribution business, helping distributors better understand what they are selling, as well as how well it works. But beyond that, data opens up a brand new revenue opportunity for distributors of all sizes, regardless of whether or not they can outright acquire a company.
There is value in almost all kinds of data, and distributors – especially larger regional ones – are sitting on troves of data helpful to both their manufacturer partners and their B2B customers. For many, the doorway toward unlocking that data is through e-commerce.
Distributors accelerated their adoption of e-commerce during the pandemic, and with it came troves of information on buyer behavior. While easy to aggregate purchase data certainly has its value, the greater opportunities may lie in the data that is produced before customers make purchases. For example, e-commerce allows distributors to understand what buyers are searching for on their sites.
Also see: “The ABCs of Average Order Value Growth.”
There are myriad uses for this data. If the distributor sees many searches for a product that it doesn’t offer, it can begin stocking that product. Remember, any time a customer can’t find a product and leaves your site, that’s lost revenue. Meanwhile, if customers are searching for one particular brand, or a single product from a brand, the distributor now has valuable information to offer the manufacturer partner. If customer’s are frequently looking for a product that a brand doesn’t offer, that information is valuable as well. The manufacturer may be missing a revenue opportunity as well, and they’d likely want to be notified.
This represents just a sliver of the opportunities available for distributors if they want to package their on-site behavior data and share it with their manufacturer partners. It’s hardly a new concept either: Amazon is constantly analyzing its customer data, and this information likely influences the products that Amazon white-labels and sells under its own brand name.
While sales and customer relationships will keep the lights on for distributors, sustained growth will come down to identifying new revenue opportunities. Many are just now realizing that the data about their customers may be more valuable that what the customers actually buy. Distributors can use e-commerce to not only own the data about their customers’ buying habits, but to help package that data as well.
Ben Stump is chief growth officer at Unilog.
Dallas-based vendor and manufacturer rep The Lawless Group announced it has acquired an interest in Rolston Hogstrom Inc., a sales agency headquartered in Chicago.
Lawless said executives for both companies have “joined forces” in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, the UP of Michigan, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska, Lawless said.
As part of the transaction and overall value creation, the two companies have agreed to establish a long-term partnership.
Rolston Hogstrom will now be a Lawless partner continuing regular operations. Chris Hogstrom will remain president of the Midwest and Richard Lawless will be acting CEO.
“This acquisition comes as a continuation of growth strategies for both companies,” Lawless said in a statement. “Joining forces will preserve and build upon two great long-standing companies. The cultural fit aligned with the core principle that both companies were established upon, building relationships, makes this a golden partnership.”
The Home Depot has named John Deaton as its new vice president of supply chain and product development.
The change will take effect Nov. 1.
Deaton replaces Mark Holifield, who has accepted a role as CEO of U.S.-based last-mile delivery firm LaserShip after 15 years with The Home Depot.
Deaton himself has worked for The Home Depot for 14 years and has experience with supply chain, product development and retail operations.
In 2011, Deaton was promoted to senior vice president of brand and product development, where he has led the transformation of The Home Depot’s private brands portfolio, including the launch of HDX and the relaunch of Husky.
He was named senior vice president of supply chain in 2017, leading major aspects of the company’s supply chain operations including transportation, distribution and inventory management.
“We’re incredibly fortunate to have such a strong bench of talented leaders like John, who has delivered outstanding results with every challenge he’s taken on over the past 14 years at The Home Depot,” said Craig Menear, The Home Depot chairman and CEO. “And we are truly excited for Mark as he takes on his next career challenge. On behalf of the entire company, I want to thank him for his enormous contributions over the past 15 years, including developing great leaders like John.”
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