Zachary T. Haines
DPA Buying Group

Kim Allison-Foster
National Independent Sanitary Supply Companies (NISSCO), LLC

Ty Huffer
The United Group

Kevin Chow
Vice President Of Member Development
Triple S

What are the greatest challenges facing your members?

Huffer – One of the greatest challenges our members face is an aging sales force and how they will replace those trusted and high-performing individuals. Those able to find a capable replacement are now faced with the challenge of retaining him or her for a long period of time.

Chow – The greatest challenge facing our members is the ability to implement and execute. Independent distributors, especially small businesses, can develop a strategy and set forth plans, but are pulled in many different directions. All too often, they can find themselves working more in the business than working on their businesses.

Haines – Cash flow is always important. If customers are paying late, or there is too much money tied up in warehouse inventory, it's difficult. Other challenges include the competitive pressure from e-tailers like Amazon, and finding the right technology solutions, which can be demanding on both time and money.

How are you helping your distributors with the challenges they're seeing from the coronavirus?

Haines – We are trying to help them source PPE (personal protective equipment) from our safety suppliers such as N95 respirators, gloves and disposables. Some of these items have been out of stock but we have so many companies to turn to, we can provide them with options/relationships to obtain product once it’s in stock. We also send out resources and educational materials about effective practices and products to combat the virus.
I believe distributors need to work to create preparedness plans in the event that this happens again. They can also work with their customers to create preparedness plans that create value. The time is now.

Chow – It is all about information sharing and providing as many resources as possible, including from a product availability and inventory standpoint. Our Regional Distribution Centers provide an additional sourcing option and we serve as a central information conduit with our partner suppliers/manufacturers. Our marketing and communication team consistently shares information on product allocation, updates on pricing and availability, and support our distributors with infection control training so their customers can get their desired outcomes.

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