Thursday, October 30, 2008

I am waiting in the dentist's office.

I am waiting in the dentist's office. My daughter is going to get a filling. She is distracting herself with a magazine, and I just discovered that I can post to my blog from my phone. How cool!

It made me start thinking about how much has changed since the 80's when the company I worked at bought it's first fax machine. We still had a cardex file where we manually tracked inventory, and orders were typed up on 3 part carbon copy forms.

Now I sit here with a tiny mobile phone, having just checked email, answered voicemail, and looked up sales figures on the internet. I'm not going to go on about how much time has passed, or how old these changes make me feel, because it hasn't really been that long and I am not old.
But thinking about the fastener business, I wonder what these changes have meant for distributors and what they will mean in the future.

If somebody had walked in the front door at Diaco Inc in 1985 and told us that they could give us a small, battery powered electronic device that we could use to check our suppliers' inventory, place an order online, and have the product drop shipped immediately directly to our customer, we would have been stunned. First we would have asked what "online" means. Then we would have all looked at each other and shouted, "We're going to be rich!"

How is it that because the technical advances didn't happen over night, we don't seem to have taken full advantage of them? The distribution business hasn't changed nearly as much as have the tools we use to operate. Maybe we just need some time to catch up. One thing is for sure. Distributors are still a key part of the equation. While manufacturers have used technology to tune up their production operations, it looks like it is up to us distributors to harness technology to transform the distribution end. End users rarely want to deal directly with manufacturers, and vice versa. Distributors know the lingo, habits, and quirks of both end users and manufacturers. We are no longer here just to break kegs into packages and keep them on the shelf hoping to sell them. We are the translators that allow the fastener business to run efficiently. Let's use the strength that comes from that importance, and make changes that benefit everyone.

More to come.

It turns out my daughter didn't need a filling after all. Very happy, we will go home now.
Photo by TheDamnMushroom


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