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Build, Fix, or Terminate: The Distributor’s Guide to More Profitable Supplier Relations

Jim Narus, Bob Donath

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Take a few minutes to hear directly from author Jim Narus about why you should read this book.

This book is about wholesaler-distributor and manufacturer working relationships. If properly managed, these relationships can lead to profit and business success across the supply chain. It draws on new and unprecedented research to profile the thorniest problems and opportunities often faced by wholesale distribution firms in their dealings with their suppliers. Then it recommends how to build and sustain successes; fix emerging conflicts; and, if necessary, terminate unfortunate working relationships that just won't function in the future—if they ever worked properly in the past.

Although distributors are the main focus of this book, there is considerable information and guidance for manufacturer managers who want to be part of productive and equitable working relationships with their wholesaler-distributors.

Apply the new skills and tools that you gain from this book to your own firm's working relationships with its suppliers and take those working relationships to the next level of profitability and success.

Read Extended Description »

What Readers Have to Say

"This is a significant work. For years, our company has pursued a program oriented toward enhancing our vendor relationships. Every aspect of our experience in creating an exclusive class of ‘partners’ would validate what Narus and Donath write about. Their issue orientation and the magnitude and breadth of their consequences analysis are both right on. My management team will benefit greatly from considering the points made in this book. The pressures put on all parties by the current economic situation only heighten this book’s timeliness."
— Mark W. Kramer, President and CEO, Laird Plastics
"This book delivers what distributors want—tools and recommendations for how to successfully manage our working relationships with our manufacturer-suppliers, so that we are making continuous improvements and sustaining profitable partnerships. There is also a lot of information and guidance for manufacturers who want to be part of productive and equitable relationships with their distributors."
— Byron Potter, President and CEO, Dallas Wholesale Builders Supply Inc.

Extended Description

At best, the typical wholesaler-distributor works as a partner with its suppliers, particularly the key suppliers who provide the distributor's core profit and frequently its market identity as well. True partnerships are rare, however, and working relationships come in many other flavors. How well various working relationships serve distributors is a key question raised in this book and answered with new research from the marketplace.

The voice of the distributor is heard loud and clear in the interviews conducted for this book as well as the survey responses. Through the insights gained, Authors Jim Narus and Bob Donath recommend relationship tools that can bring distributors and manufacturers to the table to analyze their self-interests and identify mutual goals to find ways to work together profitably. And, by reviewing the causes of the conflicts that are all too common within value chains, they have developed a checklist for identifying and nurturing the most important elements of collaboration.

They provide a comprehensive roadmap for managing distributor and manufacturer working relationships, and it comes down to

  • securing proper alignment of distributor and supplier goals, resources, and strategies
  • insisting on the right mix of support programs, services, and incentives from suppliers that strengthen distributor business models
  • adapting the nature of those working relationships to meeting changing marketplace demands over time.

About the Authors

Jim Narus

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Jim is a professor of business marketing at Wake Forest University in Charlotte, North Carolina, and a distinguished research fellow at the Institute for the Study of Business Markets at the Pennsylvania State University.

Bob Donath

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Bob, of Bob Donath & Co. based on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is a well-known consultant and writer specializing in business marketing and communications. His career represents a unique combination of experience and accomplishment in the fields of publishing, journalism, and marketing management.

NAW Institute LogoWhy NAW Institute Publications Are Different

NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence conducts research into strategic management issues affecting the wholesale distribution industry. Our research is conducted with best practice wholesaler-distributors, and we publish leading-edge research studies with practical application for wholesale distribution firms of all sizes and across all lines of trade.

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