Consolidation is part of the natural evolution of any industry. Smaller companies must grow or they’re gobbled up by bigger ones – until eventually the strongest come to dominate. Efficiencies are created, new geographies are tapped, better technologies emerge. But benefits are lost as well: high-touch service, personal relationships between customers and suppliers, intimate knowledge of particular needs.

Redistributor R.J. Schinner – the largest independent redistributor focusing on disposables in the United States – is in that sweet spot between big and small, where it’s enjoying the best attributes of both – and it’s determined to hold on to them as it matures.

“We’re proud that we’ve been able to grow and still maintain our customer-centric focus,” President Ken Schinner says, “and to continue to do so is our challenge going forward.”

Founded in 1972 as a typewriter and typewriter ribbon distributor, Distribution Management is leveraging the proprietary fulfillment system it developed for its Supplies Network wholesale distribution division and sharing it, through its newer division DM Fulfillment, as a third-party logistics provider with mid-sized companies that have big-company fulfillment needs.

The challenges of keeping up with the healthy living industry have only increased. Growing global demand for better-for-you and functional products in the food, beauty and household categories has led some in the industry to declare it the next worldwide trillion-dollar industry. In the United States, growth in the market has been spurred by a young health-conscious generation, as well as baby boomers looking to slow the aging process. Add to this growing middle-classes worldwide.

Vitacost, a leading online retailer of healthy living products, has certainly found its firm footing in the market. In fact, just as it celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, the company was ranked No. 2 in customer satisfaction among Internet Retailer’s top 100 U.S. websites. Vitacost, according to the ForeSee Experience Index: 2013 U.S. Retail Edition, which surveyed 23,000 online shoppers, was second only to Amazon.com. 

Although they are still considered to be “specialty” items by most grocers, the products distributed by Seidman Hudon Food Brokerage are becoming an increasingly common sight at many supermarkets. The company, based on Coral Springs, Fla., represents a number of prominent ethnic food lines as part of its numerous offerings. For more than 15 years, Seidman Hudon Food Brokerage has served customers including supermarkets such as Publix throughout the Southeast. 

Through the years, the company says the experience of its founders and its willingness to do whatever it takes for its clients have been key to its success. As it has grown from a small brokerage based in South Florida to a key distributor in the Southeast, Seidman Hudon Food Brokerage has continued to hold true to the values and principles of its leadership, and it says it expects the future to bring with it more growth and new opportunities. 

As a family owned company, Kimball Midwest can provide more value to its customers than its competitors, Vice President of Sales Charles “Chas” McCurdy asserts. 

By not having to answer to shareholders, “We are able to provide value-added and other services that effectively lower our customer’s total MRO expenses,” he says. 

Based in Columbus, Ohio, Kimball Midwest provides maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) parts, hardware and shop supply items, including fasteners, chemical tools and paints. The company started operations in 1923 as a local tire supply store, McCurdy says.

“They grew into supplying more and adding to the product line,” he says. Today, Kimball Midwest stocks more than 45,000 items with an industry-leading sales order fill rate.

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