PPAI’s first Distributor Dialogues, a new forum for mid-sized and larger distributors to network and collaborate on company and industry issues, kicked off at noon on Monday at Association headquarters in Irving, Texas. The mission of the group is also to identify ways PPAI can better support the needs of this important distributor segment. The Dialogues conclude this afternoon.
Top executives from 13 distributor companies are participating at the invitation of Paul Bellantone, CAE, PPAI president and CEO, who is facilitating the program along with Dale Denham, MAS+, chief information officer at Lewiston, Maine-based Geiger.
“This group represents distributor companies with annual revenue of more than $5 million. While this segment represents less than two percent of the industry companies, they generate nearly 20 percent of the industry revenue,” says Bellantone. “With such a diverse membership landscape, this small group is somewhat underrepresented in the Association’s programs and services. They work with Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 clients and they have different needs and challenges from the large majority of our industry distributors.”
PPB Newslink spoke with several of the participants to find out what they hoped to get out of the meeting.
“Whenever you are meeting with people that you don’t work with on a regular basis, your mind gets opened to a different way of looking at the same problems,” says Denham. “I interact with my staff and my colleagues on a regular basis and even if we read a lot, we kind of see things the same way over time. It’s good to connect with smart, industry people and talk about issues that are relevant to our business, businesses that are similar in size and that similar in challenges, will hopefully help me look at things in a new way.”
Jim Franklyn, vice president of sales & marketing for Winder, Georgia-based Inkhead, Inc., is looking for a commonality in communicating using technology in a paperless way. “Where we can start pushing data rather than having to re-key data … if we can find ways to communicate back and forth, without having to re-key data between the supply chain and the distribution end, the whole industry will win.”
Dawn Rogers, director of operations at Los Angeles-based PromoShop, Inc., says she’s looking to take back ideas: “Collaboration and new information, new ways of doing business and best practices.”
David Tate, president of Memphis, Tennessee-based Signet, Inc. and a founder of PeerNet Group, was especially enthusiastic about joining in the discussion. “The goal coming down here was to see how PPAI could significantly and uniquely support this segment and be of a measureable value to distributors of our size.” He also sees the value for each distributor participant as well. “Any time a group of this size gets together and talks, a lot of good comes out of it.”
In preparing for this week’s Distributor Dialogues, Janie Gaunce, owner of Lenexa, Kansas-based Grapevine Designs, LLC, polled another group for input in the area of product safety. “After the PPAI North American Leadership Conference (NALC) and the Product Safety Summit this summer, five or six of us have been meeting monthly to talk about how to ensure that we’re compliant. I have a list of about 10 different questions. … If the time makes sense we can kick some of those concepts around.”