Salt Lake City Distributors Gear Up for Olympics

Waxie Sanitary Supply says relationships put them in prime position for increased business

When Waxie Sanitary Supply’s distribution branch in Utah found out that the 2002 Winter Olympic Games were coming to Salt Lake City, they didn’t rush out to snag new accounts. They kept doing the same, time-tested thing that had worked for them for years. They asked questions; they asked a lot of questions.

And they offered to help.

“Our real focus was to take care of our existing customers,” says Clint Hunter, president of Waxie’s Utah branch in West Valley City, just outside of Salt Lake City. “We started out looking for ways to serve them, because we knew they’d be under a lot of pressure.”

As it turns out, the Olympic Committee was never a potential customer. However, the buildings in Salt Lake City that are play host to events and visitors are the real customers.

Many of the Olympic stadiums and conference centers are venues that Waxie currently supplies, but that doesn’t mean the company could just wait for business to come to fall into their laps. After all, there were other jan/san distributors ready to work for the new business created by the Winter Games.

However, Hunter says that there is a difference between a company being active and a company being anxious.

“It’s very pragmatic really. You don’t need to spend a lot of extra energy trying to get a big one-time account for a one-time event. The relationships are what are important,” he says. “If a distributor is calling up the Olympic Committee and trying really hard to do whatever it takes to meet with the most important people, he’s just wasting his time.”

Hunter explains that the Olympic Committee never had the authority to approve jan/san purchases. But by serving and partnering with customers early on, a trust was built up so that they automatically knew who to turn to when Salt Lake City was indeed named the host for the 2002 Winter Games. The point, according to Hunter, is never to make a hard sell for a one-time event.

“The building managers were so worried about getting the various facilities and hotels ready, that getting supplies stocked for heavy traffic was one of the last things they thought about,” he says. “We just tried to gently remind them and ask them what they’d need. Then we built up our inventory so we’d be ready.” With the Games just around the corner, Waxie’s partnerships have been solidified with arenas and hotels, like the popular Little America Hotel — where most Committee members will be staying. Now the company’s reputation is being put to the test.

Waxie is changing the way it operates due to vastly increased security and growing demands. Salt Lake City has never hosted an international event like the Olympics. That, combined with the tragic events of September 11, mean that everyone — including distributors — has to be flexible.

“We’ve had to adjust our service posture because there are changing scenarios that create a major logistical challenge,” says Hunter. “Our trucks have been making deliveries in the middle of the night to downtown Salt Lake, and they either have to pass several security checks or wait at a separate warehouse for security to pick up the inventory.”

Waxie proves that long-term relationships are built on a distributor’s reputation for service and when an event like the Olympic Games comes along, those relationships can mean lucrative business opportunities.

Alex Runner

ACC and EPA Help Educate Chemical Distributors

The American Chemical Council (ACC), in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), recently sponsored several free seminars on the topic of chemical security preparedness. The seminars were conducted across the nation and were geared toward manufacturers, distributors and transporters in the chemical industry.

The ACC concentrated its efforts on educating industry leaders on the timely issue of chemical security due to the creation of confusing — and seemingly conflicting — regulations which have been implemented recently .

Mike Ardito of EPA’s Pacific Southwest region, a speaker at the seminar in Los Angeles, was pleased with the outcome of the event in California. “I thought it was a great conference. There were a lot of good questions from the audience, and the topic of chemical security is such an important one right now,” said Ardito, who served on the government agency panel with representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and a local emergency planning committee.

The content of the seminars centered around helping chemical industry members develop an effective security plan, risk communication, guidelines for securing transport and product stewardship.

In addition to the Los Angeles seminar, the most recent seminar, the ACC also conducted free educational seminars in Baton Rouge, La.; Kansas City, Mo.; and Baltimore.

Several prominent speakers participated in the events, including EPA administrator Christie Whitman, who spoke in Baltimore, and several members of Congress.

New Report: 2002 Supply Chain Watch List Offers Industry Insights for Distributors

Pembroke Consulting, Philadelphia, recently issued a list of five key trends to watch for in the supply chain during 2002. Many of the firm’s new findings are associated with its previously released study “Facing the Forces of Change: Future Scenarios for Wholesale Distribution,” published by the National Association of Wholesaler Distributors (NAW) and Pembroke’s president, Adam Fein.

The company conducted surveys among manufacturers and distributors, as well as gathered research from several industries. The trends reflect ongoing patterns for early 2002 as well as Fein’s predictions about how those patterns will likely affect business in months to come.

Pembroke’s first prediction is that although it has slowed in recent months, overall consolidation will continue and even increase in 2002. “The fundamental drivers are still present,” says Fein. “We see distribution consolidation accelerating in electrical products, floor cover products, foodservice and industrial supplies.”

The second trend is that suppliers are fighting reverse auctions. Corporate buyers are using online reverse auctions to in vest in inventory ranging from raw materials to highly engineered components. This is causing suppliers to feel exploited

because online reverse auctions cater to the buyer, says Fein.

The Partner Relationship Management (PRM) software market seems to be booming, according to Pembroke’s

study. Fein does caution investors that PRMs may be overhyped, however. “PRM systems have the greatest value in channels selling branded products requiring up-to-date technical or configuration information,” he says.

The fourth trend forecasted by Pembroke’s research is that e-procurement initiatives are likely to stall in 2002. The report states that major corporate buyers will find e-procurement systems do not deliver the target process savings they are reputed to deliver.

Lastly, Fein claims that the Internet’s impact on distribution channels will become clear in 2002. “Online ordering will continue growing at the expense of phone and fax orders. However, we estimate online orders will still represent less than 15 percent of transaction volume in distribution channels,” he says.

News Makers

Haviland Corp., has announced the appointment of SPL Inc., Braintree, Mass., as their sales agency for the New England area.

Distributor Partners of America (DPA), Naples, Fla., a 93 member-owned organization in the jan/san industry, has developed a national accounts sales force for representation of the DPA label, which has more than 10 different categories.

Eclipse, Shelton, Conn., has announced that it has completed the series IBM Certification tests required for it to now be considered an IBM Premier Business Partner. Reaching the Premier status solidifies and extends the technology partnership between the two companies.

Safety-Kleen, Columbia, S.C., has developed a new service to recycle computer and electronic equipment. The company has a service network of more than 250 collection and processing facilities. More information about proper disposal of technology equipment can be found at

Windsor Industries, Englewood, Colo., has made it possible for registered distributors to now place new orders directly through the company’s website at

Mergers & Acquisitions

Johnson Controls Inc., Milwaukee, a major manufacturer for the cleaning industry among others, has announced the acquisition of Scientech Security Services, a privately held company in Idaho Falls, Idaho. The company designs, installs and integrates various life/safety systems.

Laro Service Systems, New York, a cleaning/maintenance and environmental services provider, recently announced that it has merged with Tiffany Restoration and Maintenance Corp., a 7-year-old marble and stone restoration company in Manhattan. John Palomba, formerly Tiffany’s president, will join the new company as director of operations.

AFFLINK, Tuscaloosa, Ala., recently announced that two multi-location packaging distributors recently became members of the buying group. Wurzburg Inc., headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., and Atlantic Corp., headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., are now member distributors.