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Distributors address challenges, consolidation, Obamacare at GAAS

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - 08:09
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Three distributors representing a cross section of the industry addressed challenges they face during the GAAS panel discussion “Distribution Headwinds and Tailwinds” May 21 in Chicago.

“We were going to call this panel “What keeps you up at night?” but decided that was too negative,” said panel moderator Larry Northrup, senior director, member relations, Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA).

Despite the name change, the panel tackled some of their biggest challenges, such as the demands of the business, industry consolidation and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which is often called Obamacare.

Industry demands

“Distributors are feeling more pressure to deliver every part from every warehouse to every customer now,” Northrup said. “How do you deal with that?”

“We absolutely need to do that,” said Tim Trudnowski, AAP, President/General Manager, Automotive Jobbers Supply. “All of our company owned stores get deliveries twice a day, some three times a day. Our inventory is their inventory. We fine-tune our deliveries to provide the best service possible.”

Scott Grill, VP and CPO, Auto-Wares, agreed that the customers’ expectations must be met.

“We have seven full-service warehouses. We shuttle parts every night so jobbers can get it the next morning or sooner. We have up to seven deliveries a day to some of our customers. We do the best we can to them as many parts as many times a day as possible because their business depends on it.”

Brent Windom, senior VP, sales and marketing, UNI-Select USA, agreed.

“Distribution is our core. We must have all the essential parts in the markets where they are needed. In some markets, such as Buffalo, we have over 27 deliveries per week. We do shuttles, hot shot deliveries, and others. It is all about the shop’s demands. We built our business on doing deliveries in 30 minutes or less, which remains a key objective.”

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