MRO Magazine

Doing power transmission business in turbulent times

Today's business environment is rife with uncertainty. Traditional customers are altering their purchasing systems, unilaterally imposing price reductions on vendors or disappearing from the marketpla...

September 1, 2003 | By MRO Magazine

Today’s business environment is rife with uncertainty. Traditional customers are altering their purchasing systems, unilaterally imposing price reductions on vendors or disappearing from the marketplace altogether. Both distributors and manufacturers are reassessing their relationships as they evaluate who best to partner with in a rapidly changing market.

For industrial distributors or manufacturers, adjusting to a harsh business climate requires identifying strategies to be differentiated from competitors, to reduce the cost to do business, and to effectively demonstrate the unique value provided to customers and business partners.

The Power Transmission Distributors Association (PTDA) has designed its 2003 Convention to bring together in a single location the resources needed to adapt to turbulent times. It will be held Oct. 16-18, 2003, at the New Orleans Marriott in New Orleans, La. The whole meeting has been organized around the theme of “Doing Good Business in Turbulent Times.”

Highlights of the 2003 program include:


A customer panel on supplier specification trends, with purchasing, maintenance and engineering views.

A workshop by Dr. Bill McCleave, W. R. McCleave & Associates, on differentiating your company.

An asset management workshop by Dr. Al Bates, Profit Planning Group.

A workshop by Dave Kahle, The DaCo Corporation, on sales organizational approaches to demonstrate value added.

Member panels on the role of distributors and manufacturers in the future and working together with channel partners to cut costs and improve efficiencies.

A forum for independent distributors on controlling rising health care and benefit costs.

An international business forum on doing business in Latin America.

One-on-one meetings with current and potential business partners as part of the Manufacturer-Distributor Idea Exchange.

PTDA’s annual convention is said to be the premier networking and educational event for the power transmission/motion control (PT/MC) industry. It is attended by decision-makers from leading distributor and manufacturing firms and is open to all employees of member companies and qualified prospects.

The keynote presentation, Positioning for Success, is by Nido Qubein, chairman, Great Harvest Bread Company. “In today’s crowded marketplace, what your company can do may be less important than what your customers perceive you can do for them,” he says. Qubein will draw from his personal experience as an entrepreneur to outline strategies to position a company to ensure customers understand — and value — what you offer. The speaker is the author of over two dozen books and cassette programs outlining his strategies for peak performance and maximum achievement in business and life.

One of three workshops at the convention is on the topic of Differentiating Your Company. “Regardless of the size of your company, succeeding today requires a strategic analysis of where you fit in the marketplace, your unique capabilities and how to best apply your limited resources,” says consultant Dr. Bill McCleave, Jr. He will outline practical tactics to assess a firm’s strengths and weaknesses and differentiate a company from its competitors. PTDA member Doug Savage, president of Livonia, Mich.-based Bearing Service Inc., a six-location independent distributor of bearings and power transmission products, will discuss his own differentiation strategy.

McCleave is a former senior manager of a regional distribution company, past president of a national distribution organization, and a member of Texas A&M University’s faculty. Together with Thomas Gale, editor of Modern Distribution Management, McCleave recently released Stand Out from the Competition! Four Pathways to Differentiate Your Wholesale Distribution Company.

A second workshop is on Improving Asset Management. A popular speaker with this group, Dr. Al Bates returns to the PTDA convention to provide a distributor primer on asset management. The workshop will define asset management, document the relationship between tight asset controls and distributor profitability, and flag early warning signs of poor asset management.

Bates’ company conducts profitability research for over 70 different lines of trade, including PTDA’s annual Distributor Performance Analysis Report.

Ensuring Your Sales Force Delivers Real Value is yet another workshop. Demonstrating that value-added has moved from a buzzword to a standard operating procedure, Dave Kahle of DaCo Corp. will outline sales techniques that ensure a sales force understands how to bring real value to customers.

Kahle specializes in helping distributors and their suppliers grow their sales and people. His message was acquired through real-life experiences as a distributor salesperson who became a top seller, and as the number one salesperson for two different companies in separate industries. He has authored five books and 32 multimedia programs, including How to Excel at Distributor Sales and The Six-Hat Salesperson.

Panel sessions are typically popular at PTDA events. The year’s conference features three: End-User Practices and Expectations with panelists Michael Mohr, ConAgra Foods, and Andy Page, Page Industries Ltd.; Supply Chain Evolution with Thomas Bohardt, Meier Transmission Ltd., Gus Kontonickas, Don Latham, Canadian Bearings Ltd., Ollie Martins, NSK Corp., and Kevin McCloskey, Dodge-Newark Supply Co.; and Partnering to Cut Costs and Improve Efficiency with Robert Daniel, The Timken Company, Ken Miko, BDI, Stephen Philpott, Bearing Belt Chain Co., and Richard White, Flexible Steel Lacing Co.

The conference also features two member forums. The Independent Distributor Forum will discuss Controlling Healthcare Costs, while the International Business Forum is focused on doing business in Latin America

Other notable sessions include distributor and manufacturer breakfast networking meetings, the MD-Idex 2003 tabletop trade show and networking session, and scheduled one-on-one business meetings. Social activities include an international distributor reception, welcome reception, and a grand finale dinner-dance highlighting the tastes of New Orleans. A golf outing is set for Oct. 16, and optional tours of area highlights are available.

The delegate registration fee, in U.S. funds, is $600 for members and $800 for non-members. For more information, contact PTDA at 312-876-9461 or visit, where you also can register online.MRO


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