Wholesale & Distribution International - Spring 2016 - 28


CLARK AND ASSOCIATES

My vice president of sales, Luke Strosser, is
35 years old and has been with the company nine years. We have a lot of youth in our
group, so our average age is probably 35.
We're adding employees while other companies are retracting."

NEW TRAINING FACILITY
Clark and Associates trains its employees
extensively when they are recruited and
throughout their employment. "We keep
track of talented people we meet and train
them our way," Clark says. "To me, it's
more important to hire for skills than for
knowledge. We can teach new hires the
knowledge, but it's very hard to teach personality, character and selling skills."
To provide more space for training and
its office staff, the company moved to a
new facility in Anaheim, Calif., in January
2015. "It was a lateral move, but our offices and training facility increased significantly in size," Clark says. "Every year, we
are adding three to four employees, so we
were running out of space."
The company frequently takes advantage of its new, 2,000-square-foot training
facility. "It is state-of-the-art tech-wise,
and we can train up to 40 people at a time,"
Clark says. "We train our own people and
our distributors and end-users."
The new training facility is suitable for
hand-on demonstrations of equipment as
well as explanations of workplace, environmental and safety regulations related
to some of the products Clark and Associates represents. Manufacturers' technical
representatives also do presentations at
the facility.

MARKET STRATEGIES
Clark and Associates is adjusting its approach to its markets as they change.
"There's a shift happening slowly but surely
from the well-established, regional distributors to national players who are growing
through acquisition and expansion," Clark
observes. "That's one major change, and
that will continue.
"Today, 70 percent of our business still
28 www.wdimagazine.com Spring 2016

Clark and Associates says it is growing in a flat
market by taking marketshare from its competitors.

goes through independent distributors,
but 30 percent goes through national accounts," he continues. "We're talking about
large national distributors with branches all
over the country vs. a regional distributor
that has one or five or 10 locations."
Clark and Associates' marketing strategy
is to work directly with end-users to show
them the features and benefits of the products that Clark and Associates represents
and to encourage them to specify those
products. "We spend over half our time on
end-user work in conjunction with our distributor or on our own," Clark estimates.
"It's a value-added sale that often is documented by the end-user or by the distributor to show cost savings."

80/20 RULE
Clark and Associates is concentrating on
the 20 percent of its customers who account for 80 percent of the company's business. Its employees also are working hard
to shorten the sales cycle - the time from
the first sales call until the customer's first
order is received. "The more we can compress the sales cycle, the more successful
we'll be," Clark emphasizes.
"We're looking for repeat customers to
build a relationship with so they will buy
our products for many years to come," he

stresses. "The hardest part is to get them
converted and started buying our products
instead of what they are buying or adopt a
new product. Once that's in place, the distributor typically does an excellent job of
fulfilling and maintaining that business.
But often, end-users will change distribution partners based on contractual arrangements - which is common - or they'll
buy from multiple sources." Other times,
customers may consolidate vendors company-wide for efficiency. "We want to make
sure we are on the winning end of that consolidation," Clark emphasizes.
Despite an economy that Clark says is
slack or down in part because of low energy prices and a strong dollar, Clark and
Associates' growth is in the double digits.
"Our business is growing in a flat market,
so I think we're winning," Clark declares.
"We're taking marketshare from our competitors with almost every manufacturer
that we represent. The one that's most
present in the marketplace and has the best
story to tell - and can tell it most often - is
the one that wins. It's how we train our people to talk about our products that make the
difference. We're very protective of our culture. We want people to learn that culture
and learn the way that we do business. It's
why we've been successful for 30 years." 


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Wholesale & Distribution International - Spring 2016

Contents
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Wholesale & Distribution International - Spring 2016 - Cover2
Wholesale & Distribution International - Spring 2016 - 1
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Wholesale & Distribution International - Spring 2016 - Cover3
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