What does it mean to be a distributor? One distributor's perspective

By Generation Next Vice Chairperson Abbie Sack
Vice president, Hulet Body Company

Published in the April 2015 issue of Generation Next Edition.

The commercial truck industry is very fascinating as the one-size-fits-all mentality of automobiles is thrown out the window. As a member of the NTEA, you play an important role in a specialized industry. Together with truck chassis manufacturers and their dealers; truck body, equipment and trailer manufacturers; and truck body, equipment and trailer distributors; an individual commercial vehicle can be created.

How does the distributor segment work?

First, let's start by defining what a distributor does. A distributor is an entity that buys noncompeting products or product lines and sells them direct to end users or customers. Most distributors also provide a range of services such as technical support, warranty or service.

 

Distributors are essential in helping reach markets manufacturers could not otherwise target. Businesses often appoint distributors because a local business has existing customers, contacts and relationships, and understands the local business culture and practices better. The distributor becomes the manufacturer's direct point of contact for prospective buyers.

 

One size does not fit all.

For one sale, we can wear a multitude of distributor hats. At Hulet Body Company, we work with our customers to provide them with a truck body application to uniquely fit their needs. Over time, we have built relationships with several companies we proudly represent, bringing to the table the most current technology and ideas to create a unit that will efficiently meet and exceed the needs of our customers.

 

As a liaison between the manufacturer and end user, the relationship doesn't end once the product is delivered. We assist with the maintenance and upkeep of equipment, any warranty issues, and support the customer may need. There are so many more opportunities for your company beyond the initial sale.


How do I become a distributor?

In our business, we are always looking for ways to grow. Often times, bringing on a new line that fits our current business model is an easy way to start as we already have a broad customer base.

 

The NTEA provides excellent resources for finding new and well established companies looking to broaden their market. The NTEA's Market Resource Guide is a comprehensive membership directory featuring manufacturers, distributors and suppliers. It's an excellent tool for researching opportunities for our company to expand our distributorship. Our biggest event annually is of course The Work Truck Show® as this brings together thousands of folks from the industry. For those companies whose products we currently distribute, the show brings us face to face with our suppliers. We can check out new product launches, see updates to existing technology, and meet with executives we wouldn't normally have an opportunity to meet with throughout the year. It also allows us to meet with other industry professionals potentially looking to expand in our market.

 

Make it happen!

It doesn't matter if your company is big or small. Becoming a distributor is an excellent first step in growing and expanding your business. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication, but we have found that the business relationships developed over the years are imperative to the growth of our company. It only takes one phone call, email or meeting to get the ball rolling. It's your opportunity to seize. Make the most of it, and enjoy the benefits that come from being a distributor.   

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