By Yvon Goudreau
The industry I grew up in was focused on ensuring your distributor was local to your site. That meant having a local branch, local inventory, local customer service and strong local technical sales re...
By Yvon Goudreau
The industry I grew up in was focused on ensuring your distributor was local to your site. That meant having a local branch, local inventory, local customer service and strong local technical sales representatives that understood the operations at the site.
The distributor understanding of the operations at the site played a major role in decisions and these were made locally. When I look at the industry today, I see this is drastically changing. With today’s technology, there is a perception that ‘local’ is no longer important. There is a belief that value is defined by your ability to source a part number, and it doesn’t matter any more where it comes from.
It concerns me to see technology playing such a major role now, because our business was built on relationships and technical knowledge — two people doing business together. In today’s world, people are being replaced by electronic platforms.
I also remember that we worked hard to ensure the bearings and power transmission industry was not known as a commodity. We worked on providing value. All of us valued our industry and the people who worked in it. MRO magazine played a major role in providing a platform for showing customers value.
But with today’s technology, combined with a new generation of buyers who can source product on the web, with companies who will use electronic platforms to manage their RFQs and with entire departments being outsourced, it is sadly transforming the bearings and power transmission industry into a commodity business. In the long run, that will only put more and more pressure on prices and those distributors who will not adapt will be squeezed out of the market.
Today, you have bigger but fewer players. Is this good or not? Nobody knows; it’s just the way it is. Will it impact our industry? For sure it will. I see the industry losing its technical expertise. The industry as we know it will be very different in five to 10 years. It will be hard in the future to attract young, bright individuals to this industry if all they have to do is know part numbers, prices and availability. I remember an industry where you discussed with the customer his operations and you were valued as an expert.
Yvon Goudreau is a vice-president at Kinecor LP.