According to recent reports from Industrial Distribution, the impact of offshore manufacturing, an aging work force, a lack of experienced salespeople, and a surge in prices has caused distributors to rethink their marketing strategies. A recent survey of more than 400 distributor executives revealed that the customer base is changing quicker than economists had predicted.

Some results from the study include:
• 72 percent said they had lost anywhere from 1 percent to 10 percent of their business because their customers had moved offshore, and an additional 15 percent reported a loss between 11 and 20 percent
• Nearly 60 percent expect more of their business to be lost overseas in the next few years
• More than 40 percent are interested in doing some type of business in China - whether that means setting up operations there or importing products from Chinese manufacturers
•13 percent would import products from China if they could get help from a third-party provider such as a buying group, alliance or other organization

As noted in the article, "While distributors are concerned with the impact of globalization on their businesses, they're equally concerned about finding quality people—especially since the aging of the workforce is impeding their ability to grow."

Distributors should also review their management style and adjust to motivate a new generation of workers who have very different values and work-life expectations.

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