Affiliated Distributors

A network of independent distributors and manufacturers of construction and industrial products, AD strives to facilitate growth for its members and suppliers. The organization helps independent distributors to compete against national and international chains, and it works with manufacturers so they can build and protect their brands, introduce new products and diversify their channel strategy.

AD includes more than 550 independently owned members, spanning 3,605 locations, seven industries and three countries. Together, they have collective annual sales in excess of $31 billion. The organization’s member distributors may be independent, but they are also the independent market leaders within their local communities. 

“There are unique aspects of each industry vertical, but the common thread is that we are trying to help independent distributors compete in the world of national and multinational competitors,” says Jack Templin, president of the Industrial Supply Division.

Sound Structure

The organization serves a diverse array of product industries, including electrical supplies, industrial supplies, plumbing, PVF, bearings and power transmission, HVAC and building materials. Bearings and power transmission is the organization’s newest division. 

AD also serves a wide range of customer markets. These include industrial MRO, industrial OEM, commercial construction, residential construction, utilities, retail and government.

“The seven industry representation at AD is an unprecedented benefit in our industry,” says Dan Maroni, president of the Building Materials Division at AD. “This benefit gives our membership, who are individual entrepreneurs, a national presence with our supplier partners and with the industry.” 

Financially, the company operates like a cooperative; AD shares expenses and distributes earnings according to each distributor’s participation. Additionally, it retains no earnings. The organization is managed by internal staff and governed by members and manufacturers. 

“One of the things that is important to AD is that we are member governed. We respond to the needs of the leadership of our members,” Templin says. 

Each industry it serves has a divisional board made up of distributor representatives from within the division. These boards determine divisional strategy,  devise divisional programs, and approve new members and manufacturers. 

Because the organization has a multi-industry structure, it is able to deliver valued services professionally and economically. It can spread its operating costs over eight industries, allowing AD to distribute more than 99 percent of the supplier rebates it receives each year. 

AD is able to leverage the economies of scale of its group. This allows the organization to invest in people, programs and technology while creating programs that drive growth, reduce costs and lead to long-term marketing partnerships. 

Its scale also allows the organization to support a robust controls environment and enables members and suppliers to share best practices across related industries. The confidential exchange of best practices between non-competing companies is an important piece of the organization’s mission. AD’s collective size helps distributors and manufacturers work together to solve problems.

Valuable Service

Among the organization’s programs and services are data collection and reporting, rebate negotiations and administration, terms and conditions negotiations, market planning support, logistics, product training support, new product introduction support and product promotion support. AD also provides peer-to-peer networking, safety product sales support and cost-savings on services and non-product purchases.

“When you ask our members about what they value about AD, the first thing they talk about is our networking opportunities. It is about them as business leaders solving their local problems but using the power of AD, and the power of our network to drive value for end-users,” says, Ed Crawford, President of AD’s Electrical Division.

Additionally, the organization provides clean energy sales training, new products/services support. Beyond that, it can offer national account sales and contract management and government sales support, which is administered by its sister company, supplyFORCE. 

“One of the challenges that face distributors is that the world keeps changing. You can be very successful yesterday and wake up tomorrow and have some new competitive challenges. For us as an organization, in order to ensure our members’ continued success, we need to make sure that we’re delivering those programs and solutions to address them,” Chairman and CEO Bill Weisberg says.

Weisberg says this is something that’s very difficult for most buying and marketing groups to accomplish. “If you’re in a single industry and you’re supporting just a small group of members, it’s really hard to fund new programs and services,” he says. “We have the scale to do that. We can invest in people, programs, services, technology, HR programs, profitable incentive programs, marketing programs. We can do it cost-effectively, because we leverage that across multiple industries. These investments take resources and horsepower. We have that at AD and no one else does.”

Just as it has always done, AD will seek to operate according to its values of serving others, delivering on promises and ongoing improvement. The organization will look for ways to enhance its operations and invest in those things that can help it serve others better, keep commitments and make being part of the organization an even more rewarding experience. 

“As big as AD is, and all the industries and countries that we’re in, it all comes down to one-on-one relationships,” Weisberg says. “We’re passionate about serving and supporting the individual people. We get to know the business owners and the management teams at our distributors and at our supplier partners. We meet with them regularly and we talk to them all the time. When they have a challenge, they’ve got people that they can come to and that can support them, that can advocate for them. We look at our success, ultimately, one distributor and one supplier at a time. Our philosophy is to focus on delivering that value individually. When I think about AD, I think about a community of people that as strong as they each are individually, together we win.”

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