Distributors have long been a part of our industry. But how well do they work as part of the supply chain? Jason Hemingway from Nevill Long examines the important role they play.

Many people still think of distributors as simply middlemen, a go-between linking contractors with manufacturers to sell them products. But actually their role goes a lot deeper – and is a lot more valuable – than that.

Distributors are always thinking in terms of ‘the project’. In fact, it’s at the heart of what we as distributors do. A good distributor will take time to understand the dynamics of a specific project, and foresee any issues or bottlenecks that are likely to occur. They’ll also take the time to understand a client’s overall strategy, in terms of what they’re looking to achieve, how they want to achieve it and when.

For those reasons, distributors should be very technically proficient, and have a great deal of specialist knowledge in their particular sector – and they’re in an ideal position to keep up to date with the latest manufacturer developments. Understanding the legal and technical requirements is a crucial factor too, and clients should be able to rely on their advice with regard to both.

Essentially, a distributor’s role should be to put the customer in the driving seat. We’re here to give contractors the materials and tools needed, together with the knowledge and support to make the most of them.

Distributors appreciate it’s a competitive market out there and know that we need to bring added value. Like being more agile in responding to clients’ needs, constantly looking to innovate, operating more efficiently and encouraging new ideas, however unusual, that might make a difference to their customers.

After all, distributors can’t afford to take their customers for granted – because they always have a choice.

Jason Hemingway

Regional sales director (North)

Nevill Long