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The lead article in this issue on integrated supply challenges conventional wisdom and offers insights on how distributors might find opportunities in this evolving market. The article on CoLinx is an example of how a group of manufacturers found a unique way to reduce their costs and increase service levels; distributors can tap into that and benefit. Both articles address a key question: How can I get the most out of the resources available to our company?
A common question this time of year as 2005 market plans are refined, but arguably this is where companies come to a major fork in the road. Most companies drive down Execution Highway and do well. This is where most competitors in the market focus. You win or lose on how well you control costs, steer through day-to-day operational issues, and outperform competitors in meeting customer needs.
Far fewer companies travel Leverage Lane, where your company is at the helm and your external partners help you navigate a different looking vehicle, one that is in some ways more complex, but also more nimble, flexible and customized to specific customer needs. Arguably more challenging but stronger, more rewarding and more adaptable.
The best companies know how to drive both roads to reach a well-planned destination, and by doing so offer a distinct and better offering to customers. There are survivors and thrivers in every distribution market. The survivors are totally focused on execution. Their resources are stretched thin, both in terms of business development as well as capital as the past year has pushed inventory investment. Thrivers see opportunities open up as markets shift. They recognize how well they leverage external resources will define their ability to compete in evolving markets.