The National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors has sent a letter to US Vice President Mike Pence urging the Trump administration to utilize established supply chains to distribute critical products amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has shut down large swaths of the American economy to slow the virus’ spread.
A letter by NAW president and CEO Dirk Van Dongen expresses concern raised by companies about the effectiveness of the administration’s current apparent approach for getting those critical products where they need to be, citing that the direction appears to involve asking manufacturers to send product directly to the end user, bypassing distributors and logistics providers in the process.
“While this approach may seem to have significant appeal, it is superficial,” Van Dongen states. “In practice, ignoring existing private sector distribution networks is unworkable and will slow the delivery of products significantly.”
Van Dongen went on to elaborate on how the commercial supply chain relies on warehouses, transport and delivery resources managed by companies that have deep relationships with private, public and government facilities that are now in need of a range of products and commodities. Van Dongen specifically highlighted the importance of distributors in the supply chain.
“Facilities rely on these integrated systems to determine where product is needed, specifically where it is delivered and when it must be replenished. Each distributor knows the individuals responsible at a facility and are best able to respond to changing challenges,” Van Dongen said. “Mandating that a manufacturer, distant from the facility in need, may work in the abstract, but is highly unlikely to result in products being delivered when and where they are needed.”
Van Dongen’s letter comes days after he and more than 30 other leaders of industrial distribution and retail supply companies and associations participated in a conference call with President Donald Trump, Pence and several other members of the Trump administration, in which the administration called upon those distributors and retailers to help ensure the reliability of the PPE supply chain.
“There is a reason that some $6 trillion dollars of goods and commodities move through wholesale distribution channels each year,” Van Dongen said. “It is because this is the most efficient way of moving product from where it is made to where it is needed.
“NAW urges that during this critical time, the efficiencies of those who best know distribution be relied upon to expedite and assure delivery of critical product.”
Van Dongen — who will retire from NAW after in November after leading the association for 41 years — ended the letter stating NAW is willing to discuss the matter further with members of Pence’s team as it deems it helpful.