Be. Know. Do. These three words are used to summarize one of the Army's primary leadership training disciplines. Soldiers are taught that to "be" a leader they must act like one, and not shy away from their responsibilities.
They must also "know" the technical and tactical attributes of their job, and role within the team. Finally, they must execute at a level that's in line with their position, or "do" what is expected of a leader.
At National Oak Distributors, Gregg Schneider and his team are working hard to exemplify the Be-Know-Do attributes of a leading position within the PBE distribution marketplace.
"We don't make markets, we service them," states Gregg Schneider, vice president of sales and marketing for National Oak Distributors. This focus on service is one of the leading reasons that the company continues to grow. "We've been successful in using an approach that combines a good price with a high level of service in capturing repeat sales," says Schneider. The company also uses the purchasing power of its 15 locations to offer greater category penetration. The result is an ability to offer their customers over 250 different lines when it comes to paint, supplies and PBE consumables.
By providing for their customer's needs, National Oak feels they can become a jobber's leading supplier. "We keep overhead costs down and work to fix mistakes. That's a big part of our culture. We feel that the jobber should want to buy from us now, instead of going somewhere else, and paying for poor, discounted service later."
One of the biggest issues PBE warehouses must currently deal with are manufacturers who would rather sidestep the WD and go directly to the jobber, or body shop. Schneider feels National Oak Distributors combats this approach in a number of different ways that provide better results for everyone involved.
"WDs are professional buyers," he explains. "We have what a jobber needs when they need it. And because of our size we can provide those products at a good margin. We also have the advantage of more experience when it comes to managing inventory. We've been doing this for a long time, and this is what our revenues are based on' inventory management and product purchasing.
"So we're at an advantage when it comes to meeting a jobber's just-in-time product needs. Buying from us allows them, in turn, to meet the body shop's JIT needs. Jobbers don't need to have everything on hand because all this does is eat into their cash flow and increase overhead costs from having to store product that won't be needed or used for months. In the end, we feel it's still more cost effective to work with a warehouse and jobber."
National Oak Distributors works to stay in tune with other trends impacting the PBE industry as well. Schneider sees corporate involvement via direct distribution creating a marketplace that's over-distributed. In the long run, this will force some warehouses and jobbers out of business because the supply lines will simply be inundated with product. Increased involvement at the end-user level from paint and insurance companies is also adding to an already competitive business environment.
Additionally, Schneider expects to see continued consolidation at the body shop, jobber and WD level. "Those who haven't or don't want to make the investment in inventory will go away, especially if they're trying to sell solely on price. The margins just are not there to do business that way when it comes to PBE," states Schneider.
"People are loyal to us because we're good at what we do," continues Schneider. And what they do is attribute a great deal of energy and resources in helping a jobber to move the remaining 20 percent of their inventory that is not paint. National Oak Distributor's success in doing just that can be seen by an inventory that turns as frequently as six times a year.
"We carry whatever the market demands, both as a whole and in examining specific geographical needs. What sells in some areas, won't in others," continues Schneider.