Volume 46, Issue 2 - March 2007

AMD Headlines
In the news
by Larry E. Ray

Times Are A Changing
Distributors and Dealers are Better Versed in a Technological Age

During the recent holiday season, I came upon a display of World War II artifacts in a local shopping mall. As I studied a rather small Jeep with shovels, axes, a rifle holster strapped to its side, and a small caliber machine gun mounted in the rear, I wondered how we won a war with tools so small compared to today’s sophisticated arsenal of weapons. 

Where’s My Coat and Tie?

When I reflect upon the millwork professionals of more than 40 years ago (when I entered the industry) I think of the salesmen, dressed in coats and ties, carrying cases containing little more than a catalog, order pad, a few brochures or hand samples and big smiles.

Though it wasn’t much to do battle with, the millwork professional carried a wealth of product information, a position of trust and respect with each customer and an understanding of the balance involved in representing the distributor and various manufacturers/suppliers. 

A Bunch of Road Warriors

Forty years ago, millwork salesmen sold to material dealers who depended upon these road warriors for solid information, problem-solving and products not found in the normal distributor warehouse. Except for phone calls to inside sales or customer service, the dealer might not come in contact with any person from the distribution channel other than the millwork salesman on his weekly visit and the infrequent promotional visit with a factory representative.

The Technological Age

Things have changed a lot in 40 years. With our sophisticated computers and Internet resources, most of us can locate potential new products via e-mail and secure all the information needed directly from the source. We can even communicate directly with a specialist within the manufacturer’s operations. 

Who among us has not printed drawings, specifications related to doors, windows, moldings and other vital information, directly to our desk printer? That said, exactly what is the role of today’s millwork professional? Technology that permits direct order entry, paperless files and immediate feedback via e-mail, might suggest the role is unneeded or reduced in value to the industry. To be sure, this question is raised quite often! What does the millwork distributor offer that no other entity does as well?

The Answer Is …

The answer may lie in the very complexity of the products and services that are available today. With a vast array of new products, services, code compliances and technology requirements, the millwork distributor’s role has changed, but is by no means eliminated. The millwork pro can no longer be described as the man with the briefcase. Instead, the definition grew to include high-level professionals in inside sales support, product line specialists and highly-trained field service individuals. 

Though our tools have changed, our role is not diminished. We do “battle” with advanced technology, in-depth product knowledge and the full support resources of dozens of manufacturers and suppliers. Millwork professionals are a proud part of American heritage. 

the author:  Larry E. Ray  is a Consultant for GHDC Inc. of Tupelo, Miss. He also serves as first vice president of the Association of Millwork Distributors.

Getting Involved 

As a team, the millwork professional is involved in:
• Connecting: The right product, at the right price with on-time delivery. Lean processes will dictate that we improve in this area;
• Education: Millwork professionals, with support from organizations such as the Association of Millwork Distributors, will continue to be a trusted source for training all levels, including dealer, builder, architect and jobsite construction teams. 
• Code Compliance: Can this door or window be used in a given location? What does my local code require? Your trusted millwork source likely has a ready answer and a variety of solutions to the problem.


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