I hate to admit my tenure in the door industry. Suffice it to say, I started a few presidential administrations ago. As a wide-eyed youth I saw an industry dominated by small, family owned businesses, who prided themselves on years of knowledge and deep personal customer relationships. Today I see an industry of change and I myself am symbolic of that change!
One of the major changes is company consolidation. Companies being acquired by larger companies. Manufacturers, VT for example, acquiring Eggers. Or, Cook and Boardman acquiring and consolidating over a dozen distributors. Or wholesalers, Hardware Suppliers Inc., Midwest Wholesale Hardware, Akron Hardware and Strauss Lock Distributors consolidating to become Banner Solutions. More recently we’ve seen financial investment firms now entering our industry to acquire the acquirers. Recently, Cairngorm Capital acquired Sentry Doors and Littlejohn Equity acquired Cook and Boardman.
Is this trend a good thing or a bad thing for you, the independent door, frame and hardware distributor? I contend it’s both.
A good thing in that competing against corporate monoliths and Wall Street driven firms leaves you ample opportunity to prove your service quality, years of knowledge and loyal relationships. Plus, these large consolidated players often lumber under financial debt that reduces their nimbleness to react, hire staff, and focus on relationships. All of which works to your advantage.
However, consolidation can also be a bad thing. These consolidated firms possess buying power, broader scale and deeper resources. How do you combat that? Answer – Operate as efficiently as possible. Focus on streamlining your company to become more cost effective and more nimble for your customers. Fortunately for us, this wave of consolidation occurs when we now possess new weapons to combat large competitors. Independent distributors can now implement technology and specialized software to compete and win against the big boys.
I opened this blog commenting that I, personally, am symbolic of our changing industry. I spent the majority of my career working for door, frame and hardware distributors in many different roles. Today, I remain in the door industry but now work for a software provider. Everyday I help distributors leverage technology in ways I couldn’t have even imagined when I started in this industry years ago. I am a proud to be a product of industry change!
Cheryl Orsi, based in Boston, MA, provides Customer Support and Training at Software for Hardware, LLC. Cheryl assists door, frame, and hardware distributors nationwide with software support and business consultation. Feel free to contact Cheryl at firstname.lastname@example.org