Delivering for Best-in-Class Wholesaler-Distributors

"As a manufacturer, we are constantly working to improve our position and relationship with our distributor network. This book highlights why this is an important activity and why it is so wrought with challenges. I have changed my view of win-win after reading this book. If we can develop win-neutrals going in both directions and avoid win-lose scenarios that is my new paradigm."

—Mark Hollinger, Vice President of Distribution, Mannington Mills, Inc.

Mike Marks, Tim Horan, Mike Emerson

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A good distributor–supplier relationship that took time to develop can be destroyed quickly.

Working at Cross-Purposes takes a look at what really drives these relationships, how often they go bad, and why. Especially during a challenging economy, this book can help you avoid the economic and other consequences of a core relationship turning sour by showing you how to correct emerging problems before they become critical.

This book is written with both distributors and suppliers in mind and both partners can benefit. Anyone, at any level, within an organization who is interested in preserving relationships with partners will benefit from exploring the ideas presented. Sales managers, product marketing managers or local supplier reps can have a significant impact on the relationship, because it is here that the players do not always understand the big-picture impact of their decisions.

Clearly, both partners have common ground. While there are no silver bullets or magic solutions for commercially effective relationships between distributors and suppliers, the authors pinpoint the three criteria that are critical to successful relationships between these partners:

  • The mutual trust of the partners
  • The need for honest and candid communications
  • The mutual need for continued growth.

Read this book and understand what is behind the constant friction that exists when both partners work at legitimate cross-purposes because their paths to profit and growth are very different. You’ll learn about avoiding the missed opportunities that exist in every distributor-supplier channel and you’ll find real diagnostic tools to apply and corrective actions to take to preserve these vital relationships for your business.


What Distributors Are Saying

“This book captures the changing and dynamic relationship between the distributor and the supplier. To say that it is important to manage that relationship is a huge understatement. Finally, there is a roadmap for managing the relationship that honestly looks at the differing roles of distributors and suppliers.”

— Robert Dill, President and CEO, HISCO

“The role of distribution is a vigorous one. As a result, the relationships between distributors and suppliers are constantly changing. This book takes a real-world view of the changing nature of these relationships and provides an excellent guide for proactively managing them.”

—Robert Glorvick, Former President, Republic Beverage, Nebraska

About the Authors

Mike Marks

Mike co-founded Indian River Consulting Group in April 1987 after a 20-year career in distribution management. He has written extensively, is frequently quoted on many industry issues, and is a research Fellow of the NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence. He is recognized for his expertise in channel strategies, supply chain management, and the practical application of technology.

Tim Horan

Tim joined IRCG as a Partner in 2005 after leaving a distribution career spanning more than 25 years. Horan spent the last 15 years as President and CEO of a beverage alcohol distribution company. He works with CEOs and other members of senior management in the areas of organization development and design. His recent role at IRCG was to serve as a primary researcher and coauthor for this book.

Mike Emerson

Mike began his career at Indian River Consulting Group (IRCG) in 1997 and has worked with hundreds of distributors and manufacturers of all sizes and within many lines of trade. He has managed a broad array of IRCG projects. His main focus areas include: compensation design, strategy facilitation, market research, and data modeling and analysis. Mike writes extensively on distributor and marketing channel topics and is frequently quoted on contemporary issues.