Midland Tool, a distributor that works with large contractors, as well as boiler makers, pipe fitters, iron workers, electricians and plumbers in steel mills, power plants, refineries, hospitals and automotive plants, chose to enhance an existing supplier relationship with Wright Tool, a supplier specializing in mechanics tools, including ratchets, sockets, wrenches and accessories.
“The nice thing about Wright Tool is that the products are made in the U.S. and that’s hard to come by these days,” said Chris Arthur, Midland’s sales manager. “There are some things that just aren't made here anymore.”
The manufacturer and distributor made a conscious effort to enhance their relationship in 2020. “We took a good partnership to the next level,” said Al Ryding, vice president of sales at Wright Tool. They started with a two-day meeting and tour at Wright’s Barberton, Ohio, plant last February and launched a more proactive plan from there.
The partners focused on:
- Open communication.
- Ongoing training, including tool demos and presentations.
- Joint customer calls.
- Shared market planning, identifying opportunities for sales reps.
Enhanced Channel Partnership Delivers Impressive Growth Despite COVID-19 Limitations
The renewed partnership led to 32.4% sales growth of Wright Tool products through Midland Tool throughout July 2020, despite a year of across-the-board declines for distributors due to COVID-19 closures and limitations.
Both partners acknowledge that simple and straightforward strategies work best for building channel partnerships, but the key is having a roadmap to success. “NetPlus always says that when you have a plan, it's best to have it in writing and have it mutually agreed upon, and you can work the plan throughout the year,” Ryding said. The key is for both sides to buy in at the beginning. “With that type of agreement, you usually see growth.” That approach paid big dividends for both Wright Tool and Midland Tool.
Targeted Program Drives Profitability
Midland Tool frequently needs finished and semi-finished products available for repairs at their customer sites, so timely delivery was a critical factor for their growth. Wright Tool was able to meet that need by offering what they call a 98/36 delivery promise, shipping 98% of its products within 36 hours of the order. “If I need a hundred wrenches shipped out ASAP, they might have some in stock that they could ship right away,” Arthur said. “Then, they have the rest partially done and can be turned around quickly.”
Other factors behind their success included product learning opportunities directly from the manufacturing team as well as ongoing communication, providing insight and enthusiasm that could be passed on to the end user.
Ryding values the relationship and makes a point to stay in front of Midland Tool with information and trainings, saying it’s the supplier’s responsibility to keep the relationship alive through support, training, literature and more. Ultimately, he said the key to Wright and Midland’s partnership success is trust.
Arthur echoed Ryding’s sentiments. The responsiveness and the personal relationship that Midland’s sales team has with Wright’s sales representatives keeps them excited and focused on building sales together. “They do see a pretty solid future with us as a premium supplier. They’re aggressive and hungry,” Ryding said of Midland. “They want to leverage the value that we bring to them.”
Distributors and suppliers looking to strengthen existing channel partnerships or develop new ones, should reach out to Todd Washburn.