By B.C. HeNsCHeN
One of my distributor repre- sentatives recently was let go. I heard that this person
was talking to a retailer and provided a negative opinion on a
food line the distributor carries.
That opinion ended up being
conveyed to the manufacturer,
who then reached out to the distributor expressing displeasure
on how its product line was being represented.
I understand why this person
was let go, but it really shines a
light on the role of the distributor for the micro-independent
A distributor representative
can really be an asset to a micro-independent retailer. They
can show you products that meet
the philosophy of your store, educate you on product lines and can
be your voice to the manufacturer.
Often, a distributor rep is the only
representative for a product line
you might carry because many of
the smaller manufacturers do not
have the resources to employ an
outside sales force.
I was so fortunate to work
with a distributor rep that
shared my vision and focus at
the conception of my store. She
was able to present me with
products that matched my vi-
sion. Many of my top sellers,
even more than 10 years later,
came about because she pre-
sented them to me and had me
really research them.
Let’s face it—most distributors
carry a line or two an independent
retailer would never consider.
I want the representative to be
honest and tell me if a product
does not meet my core philosophy. However, I’m sure that is
not what the manufacturer would
want the distributor to say.
I had the pleasure of meeting a micro-independent store-owner at a conference recently.
He was getting a reward from
a manufacturer for doing more
than $1 million in sales in that
manufacturer’s line. As I chatted
with him, he mentioned how he
did not like dealing with distrib-
utors—any distributors. As we
continued to talk, he made some
very valid points against dealing
with distributors. I’m not sure if
doing $1 million with a company
would give you enough leverage
to buy direct, but for most of us,
It’s important for every mi-
cro-independent retailer to
remember the fact that a dis-
tributor’s role is to make that
distributor a success. I’m not
saying they are just out for them-
selves, but distributors want to
be successful, and decisions are
made based on this fact. Don’t
we all do that? Of course, but it’s
certainly easy to forget that as
the distributor is pitching the lat-
est and greatest. The latest and
greatest to a distributor might
not be the latest and greatest for
What’s really interesting to
me is that we are not alone in
our confusion with distributors.
Manufacturers have the exact
same issues we have. They want
their product to be pushed by the
distributor. They would love it if
the distributor would carry more
of their product. They would also
love it if the distributor would
carry a full line, but, sadly, they
don’t always do this.
I get so frustrated when a
distributor carries a manufacturer I love but doesn’t have
everything I want from them.
Think about that: They’ve decided to carry the manufacturer,
but only items that will be fast
movers for them. Again, I do
the same thing in my store, but
I’m looking out for my store. It’s
always important to keep on
top of the manufacturers you
carry. I recently was shocked
to find out a manufacturer had
a larger bag size. This was not
communicated to me because
the distributor had not decided
to bring in that bag size. I don’t
even think my distributor rep
knew they had that bag size.
Have you ever wondered
about the “sales blitz” you might
get from time to time from your
distributor? How about when a
distributor rep walks in the door
to talk about one specific line
with you? Why did they pick
that line? I used to think it was
about boosting sales in a line or
maybe running a promo to get
rid of some slow movers, but I
recently learned that, for a lot of
distributors, it’s “pay to play.”
The manufacturer has paid the
distributor to have the distributor
focus on that product for them.
Wouldn’t it be great if a manu-
facturer would pay us just to talk
about their product? That sounds
great in theory, but in reality, that
would mean we are not putting
the pet owner first. We need to
offer what we believe will be best
for that pet owner and not what
we are bribed to offer.
I don’t think distributors
are going anywhere, and, quite
frankly, I would not want them
to. A micro-independent store
has to rely on its distributors
because we just don’t have the
power individually to do otherwise. The crucial thing is to remember that distributors have a
goal in mind and that goal is not
the same as yours.
The Distributor Dance
Like many businesses, distributors might not have your best
interest at heart—the key is to recognize that while your goals
aren’t always the same, you can still benefit from the relationship.
B.C. HeNsCHeN, a certified pet care technician and an
accredited pet trainer, is a partner in PlatINum Paws, a
full-service pet salon and premium pet food store in
Carmel, Ind. His knowledge of the pet food industry
makes Platinum Paws the go-to store for pet owners
who want more for their pet than a bag off a shelf.
Caitec Corp. hired mattHew
wuRtzel as the company’s director of national sales.
Wurtzel brings more than 10
years of pet product sales experience
and has held senior level positions at Precision Pet,
Quaker Pet and K10+.
Wurtzel will elevate sales of the entire Caitec line,
including Hero brand dog toys along with Rob Powers,
vice president of sales.
Lallemand Animal Nutrition announced it hired KemP
CaudIll to join its North American
team as territory business manag-
er, covering the Southeastern U.S.
Caudill is a 2010 graduate of
the University of Florida with a B.S.
in Animal Biology and Beef Cattle Industry. Prior to
joining Lallemand, he was ranch manager for a South
Florida cow/calf operation, a consultant for large
ranches in Nevada and, most recently, a feed mill
manager. Along with his previous roles, Caudill brings
extensive experience having grown up on a cow/calf
operation in Freeport, Fla.
Caudill will focus on growing sales across the entire
Lallemand product offering in the Southeastern U.S.
Carnivore Meat Co., a Green Bay,
Wis., manufacturer of raw frozen
and freeze-dried pet products,
appointed BIll GRau as vice
president of operations.
Carnivore’s USDA-, GFSI- and EU-certified facility
recently acquired new machinery to enhance pro-
ductivity and increase manufacturing processes; the
company’s continued growth will benefit from Grau’s
proficiencies in Lean, Kaizen and other manufacturing
disciplines, according to the company.
Gamma2 Inc. announced the addition
of davId sIN to manage all aspects
of the company’s supply chain.
Sin joins the company with
experience in procurement, inventory
management and business analytics, working with
companies such as HD Supply, SKLZ and Petco, where
he successfully implemented several cost-savings and