Master Distributors (MD) have been around for a while, and at times it is confusing as to precisely what they do, and who is their customer? The true definition of a master distributor is one whose principal business is selling a diverse selection of manufactured products to other distributors. One could say they are the silent “I got a guy” for distributors who don’t carry a specific product but can make it happen for their customers. Usually one thinks of a MD as being on the industrial side of the P-H-C-P industry, but what about the plumbing and decorative side…where does a wholesale distributor go for the exact product that they don’t carry, and the need to fill the order quickly? Enter..The Distribution Point.
Based out of Moody, Alabama, The Distribution Point was founded in 2003 to ensure a diverse source of plumbing product supply following Home Depot’s purchase of Your Other Warehouse. At the helm of the company is Ranson Roussel, President and CEO, who runs a company built on having a well-curated selection of in-demand and hard to find products partnered with priding itself on unrivaled customer service. TDP is thriving in the marketplace place as the “I got a guy” coupled with the motto of “we have but one goal: your success.”
Curious as to how he views the role of the MD in the industry, Roussel responded “as the general public has become more knowledgeable about the variety of options available, and the increase in delivery channels, the role of a MD has changed significantly in the past 3, 5, 10 years. Whereas a MD used to be the supply source for general inventory and hard-to-find items, today’s successful MD is one who can be nimble with their inventory and distinguish themselves from a customer service perspective. That sums up The Distribution Point.”
All things considered equal, a company sets itself apart by the value they add to the supply chain. “We see ourselves as a valuable partner to our vendors as we help them manage the efficient distribution of an increasingly complex inventory offering. Having a relationship with a successful MD like The Distribution Point means the wholesaler always has what they need, when they need it, how they need it. We stock over 20,000 SKUs across a vast array of products, ensuring that wholesalers need only make one call to fulfill even the toughest order” said Roussel.
To get to the heart of the business, I asked Roussel to talk about challenges and the marketplace overall.
What are your drivers for growth, and the challenges you face?
We are constantly keeping one eye on our present model and one eye down the road, anticipating our industry’s demands and developing those solutions in advance. So, if that means we need to adapt to accommodate a changing need in the market, we are evaluating those options NOW.
How do you overcome
I honestly believe that we have developed the strongest management and sales team in the industry where every associate is adept and empowered to think outside the box when it comes to delighting our customers. Having an intimate relationship with our customers allows us the opportunity to really listen to their needs and create solutions for them that consistently deliver value.
Tell me about the master distributor business cycle overall from the last few years. How has the market changed and how have you adjusted?
E-commerce has certainly altered the landscape in a number of ways, and the concern of the e-commerce channel among wholesalers is not dissimilar from what we saw in the 1990’s with the rise of the big box retailers. By listening to our customers, we can focus on what is important to them and provide them with an excellent customer service experience.
Where do you see the decorative side of the industry going in the next few years?
With the advent and rise of such sites as HOUZZ, and Pinterest, customers are more in tune with what they want. Additionally, they are price-savvy, quality-focused, and design driven. They want great style and great quality, at a great price.
One of our key initiatives for 2018 and beyond is the development of our own brands. To date, we have introduced the Cahaba and Cahaba Classics brands. These are beautifully curated collections of bath and kitchen products created with an eye for clean design and superior craftsmanship. While our brands have great style, they were created with the intent of providing a profit booster to our wholesale customers. We will be introducing Sirét, our collection of distinctive lighting, later this summer.
E-commerce is essential as technology is always moving forward. How has your company adapted?
We continue to invest in technology to make us more efficient and make it easier to do business with us. Our Innovation Department is tasked with improving our technology and processes and has done a fantastic job finding and integrating programs to make us a better partner. While e-commerce can be viewed as a disruption in the marketplace, we choose to see it as an opportunity to fine tune what we do and how we can better support wholesalers. We are committed to helping our wholesale customers, as we understand the difficulty and how they have been forced to respond to this disruption in the marketplace.
In today’s market, what do you feel is most important to your customers – price, quality, customer service or speed of delivery and is it possible to have all at the same time?
I am not sure it matters what business you are in – plumbing, electronics, clothing or grocery – customers always want the highest quality at the best price. The MD customer is the same. While our business model addresses all of the factors you mention, the speed of delivery and customer service is what we are known for. We do it with the intent of making the experience hassle-free and enjoyable. Our customers consistently tell us they love calling TDP and our customer service will do whatever it takes to make them look good.
One of your taglines is “we never forget that your success is our success. “What do you offer that sets your company apart from others to live up to the mantra?
It is quite simple: without consistently satisfying and delighting our customers – at every stage of the sales process – we fail. Every single associate on the TDP team is empowered to do what it takes to make the customer happy. From the time the order comes in, to the moment the box is received and opened, we want our customers to be happy - and not just happy. We want the process to be so seamless, easy, and fast, that the customer is truly delighted.