What Really Matters
I would like to once again congratulate Keith McLemore, Don Purcell and the entire team at Stone Truck Parts for being named the 2010 Truck Parts & Service Distributor of the Year. The Stone Truck Parts team embodies the vision we had for the Distributor of the Year when we first developed it in 2002 – a business that:
* Operates under a clear cut, easy to articulate and understandable top management vision;
* Is organized to make the vision work;
* Is changing and/or growing; and
* Has a defined and professional management team that features outstanding people and focuses on training and employee retention.
I was thinking about all of this as I was reviewing my notes from the recent Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week, especially my notes from the session OEM Dealers vs. Heavy-Duty Distributors: Point-Counterpoint.
One of the questions asked by moderator Dave Scheer, president and CEO of Inland Truck Parts, was whether the marketplace was well served having two channels of distribution. Clearly the market is well served when it has distributors of the caliber of Stone Truck Parts and the other distributor of the year nominees.
Continuous improvement is a precursor to success.
But isn’t the market also served by dealers of the caliber of say a Jack Saum, chairman of The Beltway Companies and ATD Dealer of the Year. Or Kyle Treadway, dealer principal of Kenworth Sales Co., and ATD chairman. Both of these dealers and many others have invested heavily in their businesses and overseen their grown. They have made a commitment to excel.
And there are many others distributors and dealers out there who take very seriously their commitment to serving the customer. So to say that one channel is better than the other is not really possible. In some markets, the distributor hands down is more nimble and agile and can get parts to his customer very quickly. In other markets, the dealer is the technology expert who keeps shelves stocked with a broad range of parts.
But unfortunately there are both dealers and distributors who are not keeping up. They are not making the investment in facilities, in people, in tools in training. They are trying to use yesterday’s technology to meet today’s challenges. In those markets there is a big opportunity for someone to come in and be a hero.
Marc Karon, president and CEO of Total Truck Parts, said at the meeting that “continuous improvement is a precursor to success.” I think he is right. What makes you successful today is not going to be the same thing that makes you successful next year or even next month.
The hearts of the customers will be won by those businesses who do the best job of taking care of the customer today and in anticipating and preparing for what it will take to satisfy him in the future. In some cases, that will be the distributor. In others, it will be the dealer. In either case the customer wins and isn’t that what really matters? n