Distributor's EDGE
In This Issue
Jammin' with Grant Wrap Up
Learn Now, Lean Forever
A Bad Q1 for Distributors, but the Worst is Over
Give Your Customers a Good Experience and You'll Give Yourself Good Customers
Uncover Thousands in Savings, Hidden in Your Inventory
Hanging Tough
Featured Paper

Conquering Cost and Complexity Through Advanced Warehouse Management Solutions
Warehouse Solutions
Manufacturers and distributors are under severe pressure to increase the productivity and
performance of their warehouse operations in the face of growing costs and complexity.

Some companies, however, are recognizing this warehouse management challenge as an
opportunity to strengthen their competitive market positions.

Continue reading...

Featured Event
Grant Howard

Typically, summers' end does not bring much joy, but this year, we have something to look forward to-- Distribution Industry Expert Grant Howard will return for more Jammin' with Grant at the end of the summer.

Send us questions or topic requests you have for Grant to
and we will incorporate them as best we can. Stay tuned for more details on the next Jammin' with Grant session.
Upcoming Events
DE and Infor Events

July 14

Webinar: DQ Tech for A+ and SX.e

July 20:
Webinar: SX.e Town Hall

See the DE Events page for more info on the above events.

IT Survey

As seen on MDM.com and according to RSM McGladrey's fourth annual Manufacturing and Wholesale Distribution National Survey, distributors are still seeking ways to cut costs. While this is understandable given the state of the economy, slower times create a prime opportunity to implement new practices and systems.

What are your thoughts on the role of technology in the current economy?
Take our survey and find out what your peers are saying.
Popsicle Stick Jokes
Remember the good old days of Popsicle stick jokes? Not usually the funniest jokes, but always a nice treat after that favorite childhood summer snack.

Reminisce with some of these classic Popsicle Stick Jokes:

Q1: When is a theater clumsy?
A1: When the curtain falls

Q2: What's a cat's favorite button on a VCR?
A2: Paws

Q3: What's the hardest thing about skydiving?
A3: The Ground
SX.e Users Play Summer Word Trivia

Can you determine the two different summer words we are hinting at?

Please e-mail responses to

Word #1 Clue:
When spelled in capital letters, this 5-letter summer activity is spelled the same front and upside down.

Word #2 Clue:
This 5-letter water vessel is spelled the same front and back.

Good luck!
April 2009 Distribution Jeopardy Answer

Unfortunately, we had no winner for our April 2009 Distribution Jeopardy question. The good news is, that's more "I'm too SX.e for my mug" mugs for this quarters' winners!

Steels Industrial

April 2009 Question & Answer
A: The first product to have a barcode scanned

Q: What is a packet of Wrigley's Gum?
On the EDGE
Summer 2009, Volume 2, Issue 3
Welcome to the Summer 2009 issue of On the EDGE.

No matter what latitude in which you find yourself, it's officially summer, and that can only mean one thing-- it's time to shape up! Instead of attempting the latest fitness trend, focus your energies on keeping your warehouse(s) lean!

Jogging a few miles is challenging, but running a lean distribution business is an even more strenuous and complex task. In this issue, hear from Howard Coleman, Principal at MCA Associates, and get "Lean Now, Lean Forever." According to distribution expert Dr. Adam J. Fein, the worst is behind us, despite Q1 of 2009. Now more than ever, we must cut the fat! With some help from our favorite distribution experts, like Rich Schmitt and Grant Wickes, your organization will be the desirable pin up of distribution centers worldwide. Plus, get a leg up on the competition by capitalizing on the new tax breaks in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Taking a different kind of break, Jammin' with Grant is on summer hiatus but will return soon. Below, find a brief summary of Aprils' session and a link to the recording and slides. Stay tuned for more info. In the meantime, take our distribution poll and find out how your thoughts on the importance of IT compare to those of your peers.

We hope you enjoy the summer-hit the beach (lakes or oceans will do), go for a hike, eat ice cream, host a bbq or picnic, get out on the links, or catch one of this summers' many new sure to be Blockbuster sequels! Need some extra summer fun, check out our throw back to the good old days below-Popsicle Stick Jokes! Or take a stab at our Summer Word Trivia.

Most importantly, be sure to stay tuned for more information on our next Jammin' with Grant series!

Surfs up,
The DE Team

Distributor's EDGE Logo
Jammin' with Grant Wrap Up
Grant Howard is an internationally recognized expert and major contributor in the design and implementation of "Best Practices" Inventory Management and Replenishment Systems, Operational Excellence, and Systems Utilization. He has multiple company experience in inventory management, purchasing design, operations, problem solving, procedure preparation, and systems administration. Mr. Howard has assisted a number of multiple branch distributors and distribution software houses in the design, education, and implementation of procedures, software packages, and the use of current technology concentrating on inventory management, replenishment, operational efficiency, and system utilization, which result in fantastic customer service, bottom line, and growth improvements.
On Wednesday April 8, 2009, distribution expert Grant Howard hosted Distributor's EDGE clients for an hour-long webinar. Entitled "Surviving or Thriving in Difficult Times: Maximizing Profits and Staying in Business Forever," the complimentary session was the final in a four part quarterly series. However, stay tuned for more information on our next series, which is scheduled to begin at the end of summer. 
In this session, Grant borrows techniques from his previous three webinars to help distributors address the current economic climate. Focusing on the need to thrive, not just survive, the present economy, Grant centers on the importance of retaining customers and maximizing profit. As business professionals, we want longevity, growth, and profitability, so as distributors, we procure, we warehouse, and we sell.
Grant suggests the way to thrive is through better service, not cutting costs. Therefore, when we swing into the economic upturn, you are ahead of your competitors. But the question is, how do we maintain, or even improve customer service, without cutting costs?
Don't drive your customer into the hands of your competition. Listen to "Surviving or Thriving in Difficult Times: Maximizing Profits and Staying in Business Forever" and keep your customers coming back for more.

Check out the session here.
The Wholesaler:
Learn Now, Lean Forever

Principal of MCA Associates

During this current economic turbulence, companies are looking for ways to reduce operational costs and, at a minimum, maintain competitive advantage, or maybe even provide competitive advantage opportunities for the future. The concept of Lean Thinking and its associated methodologies, sometimes just simply called "Continuous Improvement," is now making its way through non-manufacturing organizations, and as it transitions, it offers an opportunity for a significant break-through in how management looks at and handles the reduction of "waste" - meaning excess steps, processing, costs, etc., in all aspects of its operations. But, in discussing it, it is important to keep in mind that the concept of "Lean" is not meant to be a "one-time" event or just applied during the "bad times." That's the significance of the term: "continuous improvement."
So, having worked with wholesale-distributors over the years, facilitating their "Lean Initiatives," I found that each company, as they began, was surprised by several different factors that in total comprised a "common thread" that ran through their experiences. I think there is great value in reviewing these before we go on any further...

Click here to continue reading.

Distribution Trends:
A Bad Q1 for Distributors, but the Worst is Over

Wholesale Distribution Industry Expert

The recession is not over, but we are at (or near) the bottom. Time to start getting ready for the emerging risks associated with the coming economic recovery.

The first quarter of 2009 was horrible for wholesaler-distributors. The chart below shows the change in revenue from Q1:2009 compared to Q1:2008 - the raw numbers as well as the real (inflation-adjusted) figures. These data are not seasonally adjusted, making it easier to compare with your own companies. See the latest Wholesale Distribution Economic Reports for a definition of each sector.

While my 2009 outlook for many wholesale distribution sectors has worsened, we are still on track for recovery in 2010. The latest economic data show that many sectors are either stabilizing (or merely getting worse at a slower rate). However, consistent year-over-year growth will not return until...

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The Wholesaler:
Give Your Customers a Good Experience and You'll Give Yourself Good Customers

Management Specialist

When I was a kid, one of the cigarette companies developed an ad campaign stating that people would walk a mile for their brand. The implication was that people would walk a mile (in the hot sun), passing up opportunities to buy competing brands just to buy their brand. While I do not, in any way, recommend smoking, I do like the idea and think it really applies to our industry. As you know, there are a bunch of wholesalers in the market these days. In the past, there was lots of business to go around so the market had these same competitors, but it just didn't seem quite so crowded. Now that there are other wholesalers trying to eat your lunch, it is critical to take stock of your operation and to see if your customers would walk a mile to do business with you.
In many cases, wholesalers became lazy during the boom times and got accustomed to taking orders with very little real selling. In the process, they lost some of the skills and operating procedures that are a part of creating a differentiated company. So now is the time to rekindle the selling and operational "fires" with the sole purpose of earning more business from your current and prospective customers. In the end, you want customers who will walk an extra mile to buy from you or maybe drive an extra five miles to one of your locations.

Click here to continue reading.

Small Business Trends:
Uncover Thousands in Savings, Hidden in Your Inventory


When sales drop and budgets get tight, small businesses begin desperately seeking ways to cut costs. The options, however, are not attractive. Cutting people is painful, while slashing marketing has devastating long-term effects. Surprisingly, there's an answer to this problem right within a business owner's four walls: inventory. Inventory encompasses everything from products to raw materials and even office supplies. Best of all, it represents a wonderful opportunity to save money.

Let's face it, inventory isn't glamorous. It's bought indiscriminately, and when business is booming, there's no need to worry about it. Right now, however, inventory languishing in a warehouse, shelf, truck, or supply room serves as a painful reminder of the overly exuberant past.

Fortunately, by acting now to improve inventory management, business owners can positively affect the bottom line in more ways than one...

Click here to continue reading.

The New Yorker:
Hanging Tough


In the late nineteen-twenties, two companies-Kellogg and Post-dominated the market for packaged cereal. It was still a relatively new market: ready-to-eat cereal had been around for decades, but Americans didn't see it as a real alternative to oatmeal or cream of wheat until the twenties. So, when the Depression hit, no one knew what would happen to consumer demand. Post did the predictable thing: it reined in expenses and cut back on advertising. But Kellogg doubled its ad budget, moved aggressively into radio advertising, and heavily pushed its new cereal, Rice Krispies. (Snap, Crackle, and Pop first appeared in the thirties.) By 1933, even as the economy cratered, Kellogg's profits had risen almost thirty per cent and it had become what it remains today: the industry's dominant player.

Click here to continue reading.