The Difference Between Channel Relationships & Channel Partnerships - Modern Distribution Management

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The Difference Between Channel Relationships & Channel Partnerships

Latest episode of 7 Minutes With: Chester Collier of Walter Surface Technologies on the supplier-distributor relationship.

Distributors and manufacturers can have a relationship or they can have a partnership – and there is a difference, according to Chester Collier, senior vice president for global distribution for Walter Surface Technologies, a manufacturer of abrasives, tooling and more for the metalworking industry. Collier spoke to me for the latest 7 Minutes With … segment for MDM’s monthly Executive Briefing

“A relationship – that means we get along together, we share some common beliefs and practices,” he says. “A partnership is much more than a relationship. A partnership is when you have ultimate trust between each other. That is the clear differentiation between relationship and partnership. It’s about both parties trusting. Do we need to have more of that? Absolutely we do.”

When an end-user wants to consolidate its supplier base, there has to be more information sharing between all parties in the supply chain, he says. This puts more pressure on the distributor and manufacturer to communicate more effectively.

“It’s like a marriage, if we don’t trust each other, we’re always going to be second-guessing things,” Collier says. If that trust is there, the distributor and manufacturer will be better able to help the end-user.

“We know what we need to do to grow business, we know what we need to do to solve our customers’ problems, we know what we need to do to have a strong partnership – but we don’t always do it. This is very frustrating.

“Very seldom is it because we don’t have a solution or an answer. For one reason or another, the manufacturer, distributor or even the end-user didn’t do what should have been done.”

Listen to the full interview with Collier in the video below or visit to watch the full program, which also features Jim Tompkins of Tompkins International on the impact of Amazon on the B-to-B market.

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