Associated Marketing Inc.

When Frank Fein started Associated Marketing Inc. in 1981, he brought the experience he had gained during his career working for another manufacturer’s representative in the late 1970s. That know-how, combined with the experience of Fein’s business partner, helped Associated Marketing get a leg up in the Philadelphia area marketplace. In time, it also led to the company becoming one of the region’s premier representatives of both commodity and engineered products, from some of the largest brands and most respected manufacturers in the country. 

Today, Associated Marketing continues to lead the pack with a strong focus on logistics and what Fein calls the company’s “soup-to-nuts” approach to serving its customers. Thanks to this emphasis and the company’s adoption of the latest technology, Associated Marketing has positioned itself as a major player in the industry for a long time to come. 

Associated Marketing serves customers in the Mid-Atlantic region with wholesale distribution of its various industry market segments.

“However, it is imperative that we bring the value of our manufacturers’ products to the contractor and mechanical engineers. They will specify the use of our materials both for large project work, as well as everyday service needs,” Fein says. He says the company is proud to compete in a market with so many other strong manufacturer’s representatives, adding that the competition inspires Associated Marketing to be better in every way. 

“Most manufacturer’s representatives are well-schooled, they’re folks of integrity and, like in most things, competition is always fierce,” Fein says. “It’s nothing that we take lightly or easily – we have to be out there every day competing.” 

Strong Logistics

A major component of what makes Associated Marketing competitive in such a crowded market is its commitment to delivering products exactly where and when they are needed and making the process as painless as possible for customers. Fein says this commitment to logistical excellence has been hard-wired into the company almost from the beginning. 

“One of the things that I set out to do 25 years ago was to develop a logistics end to our business,” Fein says, adding that for many of the company’s customers, logistics had become just as important to them as price and quality. “It seemed to me that time-to-market was the most essential part of the selling process for us.”

The company’s dedication to warehousing and distribution is stronger than many of its competitors’, according to Fein, and this has given Associated Marketing a distinct advantage in the marketplace. One of the keys to this commitment is the company’s 83,000-square-foot warehouse facility, which not only gives the company the space to buy and sell products itself but also serves as a strategic and logistics partner to many of the manufacturers it represents. 

Fein says the company has become a trusted partner for many manufacturers by giving them solutions for their warehousing and distribution needs that they might not have been able to find otherwise. “We do everything from soup to nuts for them,” Fein says. 

Technology Focus

Another major aspect of the company’s capabilities that allows it to deliver quickly to customers is Associated Marketing’s adoption of technology. Fein says the company has committed to being in sync with the information technology platforms of the manufacturers it represents as well as its customers to provide more seamless service. “We’re set up on their various computer platforms,” Fein says. 

General Manager Colin Fein says the company’s ability to adapt to various software platforms gives Associated Marketing greater capacity to work with whatever inventory, logistics or warehouse management systems its suppliers or customers are using. “We have both experience and at least the willingness to learn on systems that are probably seen as more enterprise systems,” Colin Fein says. 

Moving forward, Associated Marketing is working on developing its own internal processes and platforms that aren’t necessarily tied to manufacturers’ systems or processes. Colin Fein says the company already has seen greater efficiencies driven by an internal metadata system that is unlike anything seen among the majority of manufacturer’s representatives. Both Colin and younger brother Hunter are the drivers of new technologies and processes, which will continue to propel their business as successors.

Moving Ahead

Although technology is a major focus for Associated Marketing, Frank Fein says the company will not lose sight of the importance of the human element in its operations. He says the company owes a lot of its success to the core of outside salespeople, and a long-term dedicated inside staff, many of whom have been entrenched in the business for more than 25 years. Fein says the company uses a combination of younger salespeople as well as cagey veterans to appeal to the broadest segment of its customer base as possible. 

In the future, Fein says Associated Marketing will continue to place a strong emphasis on having the best and most qualified people it can find. Specifically, the company is focusing its efforts on hiring more people with experience in the end-user side of the business, as well as more people with experience on the engineering side. Fein says the company also wants to broaden its product categories to include more technically complex products to supplement the more commodity type of products it already carries. To purchase such products, customers need help from committed, technically savvy representatives to make the right decision, and Fein says Associated Marketing has proven that it can be that.

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