Build Competitive Advantage with College Partnerships - Modern Distribution Management

Build Competitive Advantage with College Partnerships

Historically, distributors have 'underinvested' in education.

As the school year begins, distributors should be developing a strategy for recruiting college seniors who will be prime candidates for job openings next spring, but this plan should entail more than staffing a booth at a job fair, says Beverly Propst, senior vice president, human resources, Graybar, St. Louis, MO, in College Connection: ‘Virtuous Cycle’.

“For us to get the most out of our relationships with colleges and universities we have to be seen as a partner to them,” Graybar’s Propst says. “The key to that is: 1, repetition – we need to see them often and they need to see us often; and 2, it can’t be a one-sided relationship – they’re providing us access to their students, and we also feel we need to provide something to them, so we try to find out what we can do to help them.”

A distributor can help a college in numerous ways, and, in turn, help itself. A strategic alignment – whether it's with an established distribution program or by starting a new one – can include hiring interns, helping develop curriculum, providing executives to guest lecture, funding scholarships or simply offering financial support, says Barry Lawrence, director of the industrial distribution program at Texas A&M University.

Even if the investment isn't significant financially, a commitment of time and other resources can help a distributor differentiate itself from the competition by getting in front of students early.

“If you want top-quality people coming out of the university, you’ve got to engage,” Lawrence says. “You’ve got to be engaged with the programs that exist, and you’ve got to work toward building new programs. And you’ve got to put funding behind this. We as a distribution community have under-invested in education.”

Read more about the numerous benefits of and best practices for aligning with a college in College Connection: ‘Virtuous Cycle’.

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