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FALL 2020

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Distributor's Link Magazine Fall 2020 / Vol 43 No 4


128 THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK ROBERT FOOTLIK AS THE WORLD CHANGES AROUND YOU from page 48 But no matter how well designed the computerized ordering systems of the new mega-distributors they still lack important elements that you provide: human contact, customer care and the ability to insure effective communication. Inside sales, telephone contacts and smiling, effective, knowledgeable personal are the key components. At the very least reinstate the position of “Receptionist” or “Telephone Operator” to inject an element of humanity that online ordering has eliminated. If you want to stay in business there is absolutely no economic justification for an automated voice mail system. And you know this from personal experience, don’t you? In many market segments such as apparel, spare parts (or all kinds) and consumer trends the rate of return exceeds 25%. Any Fastener Distributor who tolerated this would be out of business in months, but Amazon has turned it into both a profit center and a consumer supported process. Want to return an order? Just take it to the nearest distribution center. Locally my Amazon return point is 15 miles away, at the far rear corner of a 200,000+ square foot empty building. Why empty? Because it’s the breakout point for local delivery and the trucks are gone all day. Real estate costs are essentially zero and the consumer brings it there without any Amazon labor. It then moves thru their system in otherwise empty trucks and goes back to vendors who are dinged for mistakes well beyond their control. Nice, but not going to happen for you. OEM customers are not going to send someone to your warehouse just to make a return, especially if the error was made by you. The answer from your perspective is to constantly strive for zero returns. This starts with the ordering process, constant communication and updating of both the website and the personnel at all levels of your operation. A warehouse staff member might catch an error if they are trained to know what to look for and where to look. Same thing for a delivery driver who knows the customers on their route. Quality control starts with the ordering process and ends with perfect delivery…in the customer’s context. These are just two examples of how you can rebuild the business in a changed environment. Amazon and others are still outrunning bankruptcy on paper and relying increasingly on reducing human contact and expertise. It’s their Achilles heel and your greatest strength. Look for these opportunities everywhere! Warehousing Isn’t What You Have in the Building Inventory shortages due to vendor shutdowns are starting to diminish. Fortunately many Fastener Manufacturers were deemed essential and were still making product somewhere in the world. But the lesson that American business should have learned from the last six months is that offshore production isn’t the bargain that was touted. And as our relationship with China evolves more manufacturing should be returning to the US, but not the way it left. As an experienced Industrial Engineer I tend to look at the background, not just the foreground and talking heads. News reports from Wuhan, China showed two very different aspects of manufacturing, simple, primitive home production and highly automated facilities stamping out masks and parts with minimal labor. If a country with a huge population has invested in total automation so can we. If you are both a manufacturer and a distributor it’s time to review your plant and processes to eliminate labor thru mechanization and streamlined operations. But do this intelligently by also factoring in smaller lot sizes, faster production line changes and greater flexibility. There is still time and expertise to beat the rest of the world in producing more for less. Automation costs the same or more anywhere else and you can and must increase productivity because productivity ultimately drives the economy. Lower unemployment is nice, but labor shortages should breed innovation and with better productivity economic expansion will ultimately guarantee more jobs at higher pay. Similarly, as a Distributor it is in your best interests to push your Vendors into more local production. Think about your inventory on a global basis. Starting with the raw materials; moving through initial processing into rods, coils, blanks; then as Vendor raw stock; work in process; finished goods warehousing; in transit by truck or ship; in transit from port to Distribution Center to you there are opportunities for cost reductions at every level. Amazon isn’t a warehouse distributor, it’s a bank. Materials being held are now turning so fast that 30 day payment means that the vendor really finances the inventory. And in the case of an affiliate who sells through Amazon inventory costs are definitely not an Amazon concern. CONTINUED ON PAGE 160

Jergens, Inc. announced that it has received a new certification that will expand the company’s engineering and design capabilities in the aerospace, space and defense sectors. The certification is designated for Jergens Specialty Fastener products, including Quick Release Pins, Threaded Inserts, Spring Plungers, Spring Loaded Devices, Handwheels, and Adjustable Handles & Knobs. The AS9100:2016 Certification is an invaluable component to the design and manufacturing of Specialty Fasteners, Lifting Solutions, and Workholding Solutions. The new certification will further enable Jergens Inc. to customize and design components offering rigid quality standards and mil-specs, with tight tolerances and high precision. “This certification is a game changer for Jergens and separates us from our competitors in terms of efficiency and service response time,” said Matt Schron, General Manager for Jergens, Inc. “Our many customers in the aerospace sector, both military and commercial, are seeking our heavily engineered expanded design services, customer solutions and standard and special configuration all while maintaining our shorter lead times. This certification will allow us to better serve our clients with premium products more quickly.” When it comes to quality, Jergens pays attention to detail. You can be sure that our products go beyond industry accepted standards, to provide you with unique features, dependable reliability and quality construction. Founded in 1942, Jergens, Inc. is an AS9100 Rev. D ISO 9001:2015 certified company committed to helping its customers achieve leaner, more profitable manufacturing, and continues to add products and engineered solutions for an integrated approach to “Manufacturing Efficiency.” For further information contact Jergens Inc. at 15700 S Waterloo Rd, Cleveland, OH 44110. Call Toll-Free: 1-877-486-1454, Local: 216-486-5540, Fax: 216-481-6193, Email: or visit them online at THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK 129


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