3. Where do you see the jan/san industry in five years?

Haines: If I look into my crystal ball, I see more consolidation amongst distributors and suppliers. I also believe that many manufacturers will continue to raise their minimum order requirements in an effort to bring down their customer service costs, and they will refer small-to-medium size distributors to their wholesaler partners.

More and more business will be transacted online, and as a result there will be fewer but more specialized sales people in the field. Unfortunately, I also predict that some vendors will be more tempted to sell direct to building service contractors and large end users.

Prosser: Consolidation is sure to continue, and Amazon clearly isn’t going away. But at the end of the day, facilities still have to be cleaned and maintained. The industry isn’t going away — it’s just changing. I believe strongly that traditional jan/san distributors can survive and excel if they are nimble, creative and take advantage of emerging technologies to service their customers.

Huffer: Jan/san will continue to remain a strong and relevant market well into the future. The challenge is for distributors to accommodate Millennial purchasing habits and communication preferences — which means embracing technology — while still building strong relationships. Customers who use the internet for product and price research still want a person on the other end of the line to help them solve problems. They can still see the value of purchasing from a local distributor that will take time to educate them about products and can install and service the equipment they sell. This is how our members seek to differentiate themselves from the “big box” online companies.

McGann: Further consolidated with fewer, but larger, individual distributors spanning multiple regions, some reaching coast-to-coast. Also, winning distributors will be the ones that deliver increasingly innovative solutions, new supply categories and expanded product bundles.

Wilson: If you look critically at the industry time line over the past 20 years, you can begin to extrapolate where the market is heading. From my standpoint, all indicators point toward more consolidation, end-user outsourcing and the digitization of our industry. As channels continue to blur, I also believe you’ll find that cleaning will no longer be a stand-alone business in the future, and that savvy distributors who recognize this will learn to adapt and compete differently.

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