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Distributors are responding to customer concerns and increased demand on staff in a variety of ways, including limiting new business to meet existing customer demand; open communication on shortages and supplier allocations, and discouraging panic by not accepting returns beyond normal usage patterns. Face the crisis with a sense of flexibility and resilience, experts say.
This Munich-based, third-generation distributor of bearings, power transmission, fluid power and tooling products took a non-traditional approach to transforming into a digital distribution business. It started by digitizing and strengthening the automation capabilities of its back-end systems purchasing, inventory management, logistics before focusing on the sales side of the business. And it accomplished this transformation by developing its internal technology and development expertise, thus being able to customize and enhance ERP and other critical platforms. One of MDMs 2019 Digital Innovator Award winners, heres Ludwig Meisters story on how the distributor has built a culture of digital innovation.

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January is typically not a big sales month for Earnest Machine, a 72-year-old fastener distribution company out of Cleveland. But this January was not typical. The company was up 29% at the start of 2019, said CEO Kirk Zehnder. Speaking last month at MDMs Sale GPS Conference, Zehnder explained the radical shift in Earnests sales department structure that he credits for the boost.

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