Importers beware

Thursday, June 15, 2017
One of the trade priorities of the Trump administration is to ensure that all the antidumping and countervailing (anti-subsidy) duties owed on U.S. imports are collected. Many think that antidumping and countervailing duties are collected at the border — at the time of importation. Actually, the collection of antidumping and countervailing duties is quite complicated: indeed, not understanding the U.S. antidumping/countervailing duty process has caused serious problems for numerous U.S. importers — and has even caused some to go out of business. This issue has impacted U.S. importers of all types of steel products covered by antidumping and/or countervailing duty orders, including carbon steel butt-weld pipe fittings, OCTG, circular welded carbon steel pipes and tubes  [Read More...]

The Path to Greater Profits

Thursday, June 15, 2017
Many distributors fail to understand the profit potential of their company. It’s like the story about the worm that’s in the jar of mustard and thinks the whole world is mustard. Many distributors have been in the game for so long that they feel there are limitations on how much money their business can make, and they’re willing to accept years in which they don’t make money. They not only misunderstand their profit potential, they don’t understand why they’re unable to reach their potential. I often tell clients they should be looking for a 20 percent pre-tax return on investment in their distribution business. Many don’t believe it. Yet other distributors achieve and even exceed that goal. Obviously, most of them don’t generate a 20 percent return on investment ye  [Read More...]

Learning about your competition

Tuesday, May 23, 2017
I’m concerned about what my competition may be doing. I know I should be aware of what they’re doing, but I’m not sure how I can find that out.” This is an issue that’s growing in importance. Our industry is heating up and becoming more competitive. All around us things are changing at an ever increasing rate. That means that it’s more important than ever for you to be aware of what your competitors are doing so that you don’t get blindsided or seriously outmaneuvered. That happened to me. To this day, I still get a sick feeling in my stomach as I remember the day when I lost my largest account to my arch competitor. It was an account that made up 20 percent of my total volume. In my blissful ignorance, I was content to grow my business by calling on the end users an  [Read More...]

Driving Add-On Sales

Friday, May 19, 2017
Do you want fries with that? We hear it every time we visit our favorite fast food chain. The fact of the matter is that these folks have mastered the art of add-on sales. They understand that the menu item rarely stands on its own. On the contrary, the satisfaction of the purchase is enhanced by the additional complementary items. There exists a desire to better serve the customer; and let’s not forget that for every dollar in cost, the fast food chain can sell approximately 20 orders of fries. Now, while most wholesale distributors can only dream of making such a lofty markup, the principle remains the same. Selling complementary products drives gross margin dollars to new heights and improves overall customer service. One of my favorite key performance indicators is  [Read More...]

The imperative of operational excellence

Monday, April 24, 2017
Given the speed of change in wholesale-distribution, particularly in the “business value” every wholesale distributor will need to project, operational excellence (OPEX) will become more commonplace as a mission critical objective. It’s not “new-news” that wholesale distributors operate in an era of frequent, if not constant and rapid, change. And the change seems to be moving faster, doesn’t it? Maybe even pushing deeper, isn’t it? It surely opens up a raft of opportunities (and threats) that will need to be seized upon and/or mitigated. This is not just about the constant “drone” of Amazon, you hear, but what you can expect from your customary competitors who are already making the transition to a leaner speed-of-flow, and a greater business intelligence ut  [Read More...]