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What is the Future of Independents in Distribution?

Written by Mike Marks on Friday, 05 May 2017. Posted in Distribution

I moderated a panel discussion on the future of the independent distributor in the electrical channel at this week’s National Association of Electrical Distributors National Meeting in Boston.

The expert group included Dan Gray, president and CEO of Independent Electric Supply; Bob Smith, president and CEO of IMARK; John Spoor, president and COO of State Electric Supply; George Vorwick, president and CEO of United Electric Supply; and Bill Weisberg, chairman and CEO of Affiliated Distributors.

The overall feeling was hopeful for independents, despite some of the challenges they face. “Business with independents grows at about 1.5 times the rate of others in this industry,” Weisberg said. “Why is that? I think it's because there are challenges related to size. It's great to be big, but it's tough to be big too. Independents have challenges associated with being small, but they also have tremendous advantages associated with being that size, too.”

Read the full summary of my panel from NAED’s TED Mag here. You can also watch Part 1 of the panel below.

Read my thoughts on moving from a lifestyle business to professional management: Crossing the Chasm

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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