Going direct

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Thread Starter

John Whitmore

I rely greatly on engineering assistance and recently was approached by a manufacturer directly concerning going direct with them. I have received years of support from distributor and was curious what the general responses of manufacturers has been in comparision to distributors
 
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John Coppini

You just admitted that you have been receiving good support and service from the distributor. Also, have you thought about the ethics of the manufacturer making such an overture to you? Speaking as an employee of a manufacturer that has distributors, I think that the answer to your question is self-evident: stay with the distributor! Furthermore, you will likely find that the manufacturer probably has a less motivated, voice-mail handicapped, plain lazier staff that will fail to respond once they have seduced you!
 
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Bill Szuminski

Price on the outset is an attractive buying influence...
Some of my customers have considered a "direct automation" approach to PLC purchases. After finding SUPPORT non-existent, except by phone, if a real human answers, they have come back to the conclusion that if an application fails, their friendly LOCAL specialist is at hand.
Sure, most companies hire extensive engineering staffs that have all the time on their hands to learn new products and applications but sometimes
(tongue firmly in cheek) companies don't have the money to spend. When that happens Distributors with Specialists are like Gods.
Manufacturers will always try to increase their market share by creating a bigger "pie". Web based purchasing is the next attempt but they seldom have the support team in place to handle the day-to-day "nuisance" calls.
I say "Hail to the Distributor" and remember your Specialist at Christmas...
WGS
 
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Nieder, Steve M

John,
What manufacturer has offered to serve you directly. Knowing this information would help to provide insight as to longevity, capability
etc.
 
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Andrew Piereder

It really depends so much on the manufacturer and their business model--where does the technical support expertise lie? Where does the
engineering experience lie?

The people to ask of course are neither the distributor or the manufacturer since both typically suffer from myopia as to who is actually doing what to support the customer. Ask other customers, or think back to your own
experience with the distributor and the manufacturer. How important is your business? To the distributor and/or the manufacturer? The simple fact is that with large manufacturers(and sometimes distributors...) come large agendas on which you might simply be a small item low down on the list. They can usually handle "standard" matters, but how they respond to the unusual is the litmus test.

Andy Piereder
Pinnacle IDC
 
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Adolfo Jimmy Saldivias Valarezo

John:

The answer is NO.

The manufacturer has as his (her) main concern to manufacture, that is to look for the best way to make a product, which includes investigating and
designing.

The distributor has as a main concern to distribute, that is to orient and serve to you, which includes calling you back or answering questions. The last part is the most important one. We the customers tend to ask questions
that for the manufacturers are silly. Remember they make the things.

Either your manufacturer will focus on giving you a good service as a distributor, which in the long run means loosing their focus in
manufacturing and making a poor designed or innovated product or they will keep on focused on manufacturing and will not answer your questioning when you need it.

Anyway, this is just my opinion.

Jimmy Saldivias
TECSIM
Phone: 591-4-523438
Fax: 591-4-523413
 
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Anthony Kerstens

I've actually direct from Modicon/Schneider.
I found that it was better to go with a distributor (several if you have no problem changing brand-names), ignoring B2B arguments since B2B is not really that mature yet.

The distributor likely has multiple branches with local stock at each. They can usually get something from another branch if not in their
own stock. Also, distributors tend to anticipate and purchase ahead of time, and may even be willing to stock unusual items if you agree to eventually buy it all up. More than that, distributors can source multiple brands of various products (unless they're locked into AB, but that's another beef).

Conversely, if the manufacturer is out of stock, what's he going to do? A buy-back from his distributors? No, he's going to put your order into the same queue as the destribuctors. Something you could have gotten (perhaps overnight) from a distributor becomes a long-lead item. Or worse, they make you pay air freight to get it from who-knows-what warehouse.

As for those unusual items, the manufacturer only makes those to order, in quantity. That would be fine if you need the quantity, and can wait, but usually only a distributor can afford to the quantity and the wait because he's anticipated his orders.

Look at it this way, would the Big Three auto makers bother retailing their own vehicles to the end user? No, the closest they might get to
retail is fleet sales, and I expect those are large special order agreements.

Anthony Kerstens P.Eng.
 
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Alex Pavloff

It depends on the distributor. From what I see, those distributors that just serve as big warehouses with a catalog won't be able to cut it anymore in automation, or indeed, in any industry.

Now if the distributor does indeed provide some service that you indeed, find useful, well, why switch?
 
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David Bowman

I used to work for a rep agent in Seattle that sold variable speed drives, soft starts, transformers, etc. Any company that would sell around a distributor is foolish. The sole purpose of a distributor is service. Service is defined as stocking the products and servicing the needs of the customer including technical help. If the distributor is unable to help you and the impression they leave you with is one of "the big box" mentallity, go elsewhere. Manufacturers are there for assistance IF the question is too technical even for the rep to handle. The reps job is to assist the distributor when necessary and provide training to them. Any manufacturer that sells around a distributor is so small that they are desparately seeking market share and cna't find a reputable distributor that will stock their products. They will call you if you have a problem.
 
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