Distributors: Take the Long-Term View

Written by Mike Marks on Thursday, 16 February 2017. Posted in Business Strategy, Distribution

long term perspective distributorsOn a daily basis, you can get news on mergers and acquisitions and the quarterly reports of publicly traded companies. And it seems like every week a new report comes out outlining new industry trends.

It’s not surprising that distributors are paying attention to the day-to-day. There’s nothing wrong with reading this stuff – I look at it, too. But many place way too much emphasis on what’s right in front of them and forget to pay attention to long-term trends that will ultimately have the largest effect on them.

The problem with paying so much attention to the immediate is that a lot of news stories and Top 10 lists you see don’t have a lot of meat on them in terms of helping you make decisions for your business. What’s the impact on your business if this company acquired that company, or Grainger’s sales were up or down this month? Does that news help you prepare your business for the future?

While such news may be important in the short-term, when you instead start focusing on the tide instead of the waves, you can explore the deeper, more enduring trends that are the most disruptive, like the aging workforce and consolidation and millennials and the “internet of things.” These trends didn't just start in 2016, and they’re not going away in 2017.

Focusing on these long-term trends will get you closer to something truly actionable. To get all the way there, look at these trends through the eyes of your customers and spend time trying to really understand the turmoil they’re causing them. If you do that, you can start responding to them now, and, over time, reposition yourself to stay close to your customers and stay sticky.

To learn more about how we can help your business stay relevant in the face of long-term, disruptive trends, give us a call at 321-956-8617 or email info@ircg.com.

About the Author

Mike Marks

Mike Marks

Mike Marks co-founded IRCG in April 1987. He began his consulting practice after working in distribution management for more than 20 years. Over the years, his narrow focus in B2B channel-driven markets has created an extensive number of deep executive relationships within virtually every business vertical in construction, industrial, OEM, agricultural, and healthcare.

Mike has led project teams that improve market access by aligning resources to growth opportunities serving manufacturers, dealers, and distributors. Clients have ranged from small privately owned firms to many of the industry’s market share leaders. Ownership structures have included owner-operators, private equity, ESOPs, and publically traded firms. Mike is proud of the teams work and the confidence clients have shown with additional project work.

He has written extensively, and is frequently quoted on many industry issues. He has substantial board experience on both public and private distribution firms. His contributions to the field include serving multiple terms as a Research Fellow with the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, permanent faculty at Purdue University’s University of Industrial Distribution, eight years as Graduate Adjunct Faculty in the Industrial Distribution Program at Texas A & M University, and rendering several precedent-setting expert opinions in contract disputes between manufacturers and distributors.

Prior to forming IRCG, Mike held the position of Executive Vice President at Lex Electronics, an $800 million vertically integrated electronics distributor in Stamford, CT. Mike’s path to management in his early career was through increasing responsibilities in sales and sales management. He also completed a tour of duty as a manufacturer’s representative.

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