One Forkful At A Time

This article first appeared in Industrial Distribution's May/June 2013 Issue. To view it in it's original format, please click here.

I recently stumbled across a news article online that described the latest innovation to target those pesky extra pounds.

Never one to be able to resist a gimmicky product in a bandwagon marketplace like the now multi-billion-dollar weight loss industry, I found myself reading about the "HapiFork" — a utensil designed to pressure users into eating less by counting their bites and vibrating to indicate whether they are eating too fast.

Never has shame played such a creative role in dinner. While I find the idea a bit hard to swallow, I do like the foundation behind this method: improving your eating habits, one meal at a time.

When looking at the data spread out over the pages of this year's Survey of Distributor Operations, it might be easy to feel a bit overwhelmed. We've addressed everything from the respective roles of consolidation, supplier price increases, and employment challenges, to how much distributors are really selling on the internet. The scope is certainly broad, however, so are your challenges.

How you use this data is up to you; some of you might find this glimpse inside the minds of your peers — and competitors — raises a few red flags about your own business. Where do you lead? Conversely, where do you lag? And once you make those determinations, what are your next steps?

The important part is to take it one area at a time, and hopefully the survey simply serves as the evidence you need to accurately assess and create priorities in your business planning. And while it's probably unrealistic to get to everything this year, think how satisfying it will be to know you've outpaced some of your competition through addressing a few of the areas on your short list.

And while our annual Survey of Distributor Operations won't provide you with an update until next May, there are plenty of sounding boards we do offer in the meantime if you'd Iike to gain more insight into a particular area:

• Join the official Industrial Distribution LinkedIn group, where thousands of readers and industry experts communicate daily on topics affecting industrial distribution businesses.
• ID webinars — Look for email invitations for these periodic events where an expert panel takes a deeper dive into the issues keeping distributors up at night. The live Q&A at the conclusion of each webinar allows viewers to join the discussion.
• Visit our website, — Your insights help drive this brand, so we urge you to start or join a discussion in the comments section below each article post.

Like you, we use the data and feedback we receive to determine the most critical issues facing the industry so we can feed our readers the information they need most — one vibrating forkful at a time.

Happy Spring —

Anna Wells,
Executive Editor