Why do many equipment manufacturers feel that wholesalers aren't doing as good a job as they should be? And why do wholesalers fail to recognize this? NHRAW has been grappling with this tough issue since a survey first reported this conflict. To better improve relations with distributors and manufacturers, it first had to define the problem, coming up with the following:

Wholesaler "worst" practices (from a manufacturer's view)

  • Price only versus added value (will switch for price; acts like Home Depot)

  • Inadequate inventories

  • Lack of knowledge/skills/training

  • Only have own interests at heart

  • Lack of feedback/communication

  • Lack of planning

  • Dishonesty; failure on commitments

  • Plays suppliers against one another

  • Fails to invest/modernize systems

  • Slow pay Manufacturer "worst" practices (from a wholesaler's view)

  • Sells/markets around the wholesaler

  • New distribution; over-distribution; channel conflicts

  • Poor delivery/commitments

  • Slow problem response (especially product)

  • Senior management insulated from real world; make knee-jerk decisions

  • No wholesaler input into plans

  • Doesn't respond to phone calls/letters (hides behind voice mail)

  • Hard to do business with (inflexible)

  • Bad "attitude"

  • Fails to develop market

    John Sedgwick, Applied Learning Associates Midwest, said pressure on wholesalers has never been greater. With a contracting business, it's clearer on who has to do the job of selling to the consumer, and what has to be done once the job is sold: in other words, the installation. With wholesalers and manufacturers, it's less clear who is to do the added marketing for various products.

    Speed, communications and responsiveness will become more important than ever, he said, as "an inherently complicated business becomes even more so." Nor will it help that "We're not a very glamorous industry and it's hard to attract top talent."

    Wholesalers can survive, Sedgwick said, but only if they are willing to work closely with manufacturers and recognize what some of the stress points are in that relationship.