Confident in the economy, distributors are expanding into new territories and broadening their product offerings.
They’re also getting increasingly competitive with one another, to the benefit of price-conscious dealers. Warehouses are wooing builders, retailers and service firms with promises of having what they need, when they need it, plus speedier deliveries.
“There are opportunities to pick up market share — not necessarily new business, but market share,” said John Arakelian, CEO of Baystate Pool Supplies in Cambridge, Mass.
How? By being faster and having more products than the competition, Arakelian explained, echoing the sentiments of other distribution firms.
Baystate recently hired two full-time salesmen, one in upstate New York and another in Virginia Beach. Those are new locations where Baystate trucks are delivering products two to three times a week. The 50-year-old company is testing the waters, so to speak, to determine where it wants to plant its next warehouse, which could be sometime next year.
“You want to have a little bit of a base [rather than] starting out at zero,” Arakelian said. That would be Baystate’s 11th distribution center and its first new one since opening a location in Philadelphia six years ago.
Pool Builders Supply also has plans to open a new warehouse. The Charlotte, N.C.-based company is mum on details, but a local news report suggests it is planning to build a 42,000-square-foot facility in Myrtle Beach, S.C. That would be its eighth location.
Co-owner Taryn Springsteed said the decision to branch out was driven, in part, by an uptick in the commercial sector. Apartment complexes with multiple pools are springing up in a ripe rental market. And aquatics facilities that held off on refurbishments are beginning to invest in pools again.
“We’re starting to see some of that money being freed up,” Springsteed said.
She also attributes the distributor’s expansion to its services helping customers grow. While it doesn’t have a consultancy practice per se, it does have “mentors” on staff helping primarily builders branch out into service and retail.
David Sutherland, vice president of Vak Pak Builder Supply in Jacksonville, Fla., agrees the economy is trending in the right direction.
“Our commercial side is moving again,” Sutherland said. “It’s taken a lot longer than the residential side, which came back pretty fast.”
Vak Pak has responded to increased demand by extending its delivery service south of Jacksonville and also across state lines into Georgia.
It’s also outgrowing the 14,000-square-foot facility it leases. Sutherland is in the process of building a new 20,000-square-foot warehouse, not far from its existing location, that the company will own.
Like other distributors, Vak Pak is delving further into the backyard leisure space, diversifying its offerings to include patio furniture, pavers and outdoor kitchens. Items such as these will be on display in the new distribution center’s showroom.
“That really helps some of the smaller contractors,” Sutherland said. “If they don’t have a showroom of their own, they can bring clients over to our location and pick things out.”
Growth also is being seen by Huntingdon Valley, Pa.-based W.W. Adcock, which recently expanded its warehouse in Monroe, La., from 15,000 square feet to 40,000.