CR Talks To: Michael Flink, President,
ADI Americas: On the Up & Up

A reliance on strong category management is seeing this
distributor and its clients successfully through 2011.

CR: Can you speak about the brand, product and category mix you currently carry?

Flink: There are a couple of dimensions to my answer. One thing we are doing is moving to stronger category management implementation. Traditionally, we’ve provided a broad product selection; in 2010, we had 50,000 products sold consistently through the year, with about 130,000 parts in our system. Now, however, in each product category, we are becoming deeper in availability of products and narrowing, by just a hair, the selection, to provide consistency across all of our branches. As an example, take monitor mounts. We sell thousands each week. We have 10 brands, and 120 models in stock—but there are not 120 really differentiated products.

So what we are doing is looking at our key suppliers, identifying the most popular sellers and the most differentiated products, and stocking six to eight deep in each branch. This means we may now have 18 models in each branch, rather than 40. It adds up to increased local inventory, better depth of product, improved price-point selection with a good-better-best strategy, and it will also improve on-time delivery to 100 percent. The other thing it enables us to do is improve internal and external training efforts in presenting a consistent set of products that we can develop customer training around.

CR: Training in security, IP and A/V technologies seems to be an integral part of your way of doing business. I note that your ADI Expo schedule spans the U.S. and most of 2011. What are you doing to enhance training, going forward?

Flink: There are two aspects of primary customer trainings.

One is the classes we hold in our branch locations. In 2010, 1,400 training sessions were held for our customers. They were of a broad variety, from fiber-optic planning sessions to fire protection to CE credits for certain states that require it for security.

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