ISA CEO on Distributor Opportunity, ‘Channel 2.0’

Brendan Breen joined DCKAP’s “Driven” podcast.

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AUSTIN, Texas — The latest episode of DCKAP’s "Driven" podcast features a compelling discussion with Brendan Breen, CEO of the Industrial Supply Association (ISA), hosted by Karthik Chidambaram.

In addition to the legacy and innovations of ISA, the conversation also delves into the challenges and opportunities within distribution, particularly the maintenance, repair, operations and production (MROP) market. Breen, leveraging his extensive experience, sheds light on strategic frameworks, differentiation tactics, and the accelerating digital transformation reshaping the industry.

  • MROP is big business: “The size of the MROP U.S. market is between $200 billion and $300 billion. That puts us in line with heavy manufacturing, like aerospace, automotive, and even construction. We provide all of the metal work, safety equipment, safety apparel and PPE,” explains Breen.
  • Distributors can differentiate by providing value beyond logistics and price: The market is still ripe with opportunities for distributors to provide additional services like repair, training, and development opportunities.
  • Channel 2.0, a collaborative strategy: Channel 2.0 is a holistic approach to solving customer problems that involves looking at the channel as a whole and fosters unity at every level. Every channel member — manufacturers, manufacturer’s representatives, and distributors — contributes to improve the process, emphasizing partnership over competition to drive value and innovation.
  • Digital transformation is accelerating among distributors and manufacturers. Breen emphasizes the need for distributors to embrace technology and e-commerce to stay relevant. “E-commerce is top of mind for everyone,” explains Breen. “Because many solutions have become easier and faster to implement, they’ve become more palatable.”  

The conversation also provides a unique glimpse into ISA’s mission and Breen’s leadership journey. His reflections on the value of mission-driven work and the importance of balancing professional and personal life resonate with professionals at all levels, offering inspiration and guidance for navigating the complexities of today’s business environment.

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