Distribution is an essential part of any product-based business. The quality of the product is the initial critical factor that prompts customers to buy, filtering out competition and narrowing down the viable options. But when a company also offers a reliable and diverse inventory, predictable shipping times and attentive customer service, the choice to purchase from them becomes a simple one.
It’s a lesson I’ve seen proven again and again. I’ve been in the automotive aftermarket industry for 20 years, serving in positions in sales and marketing. There is not one single day that doesn’t have some sort of change that you have to manage through. Most people look at change with fear and trepidation because they don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. But let’s face it: change also brings about all the good things we enjoy in life, and in many cases it brings things you dream to life. Think about it, I can write this blog entry, on a device that fits in my pocket while flying across country at 30,000 feet in the air. Hopefully in an airplane. It’s tough to think of anyone making a conscious decision to change to anything without thinking it going to make things better. In this case, we have to continually communicate how this change is going to make things better for our customers.
Prior to the merger between Affinia and MANN+HUMMEL in May, Canadian distribution was already operating effectively for each of the two companies. With three warehouses spread across the country in Milton, Ontario; Edmonton, Alberta; and Burnaby, British Columbia, MANN+HUMMEL was able to quickly provide its customers with the products and brands they needed. And with a centrally located warehouse in Ayr, Canada, Affinia and our WIX Filters brand could easily provide award-winning service and distribution to the East and West coasts of Canada and even the northern-most parts of North America. Once we joined forces, our new MANN+HUMMEL Filtration Technology group changed the distribution footprint to maximize the distribution resources that Affinia brought into the merger. Because 3 plus 1 doesn’t always equal 4.
Instead of operating out of three third-party warehouses, the team in Canada was able to consolidate into our MANN+HUMMEL Filtration Technology warehouse in Ayr. A pre-merger team began preliminary planning, during which they determined the most feasible solution was to use Affinia’s ERP system to facilitate the product addition. Once the merger was finalized, the real work to consolidate warehouses began. The collaboration of the teams and facilities was impressive, launching a 100-day plan to consolidate warehouses – and doing it seamlessly. From the IT groups at both companies who prepared data templates for exchange of information, to the 2,500 pick locations that were created in Ayr to accommodate the $1,000,000 of inventory being transferred, it was an awesome undertaking.
Just think about the numbers: These locations service 125 customers throughout the country. From there, more than 11,000,000 filters are shipped annually to 1,200 customer locations. And the consolidation brought the total number of SKUs in one location to over 12,000.
Not only did this centralize our distribution efforts, it also helped us save on all the resources you can imagine it takes to support distribution efforts and inventories in all these facilities. Everyone at MANN+HUMMEL should be extremely proud of all the work that key teams put into consolidating all these facilities; it was much more than just putting product up on a shelf in a new spot. As we brought together our facilities, we also merged our teams with MANN+HUMMEL Purolator sales talent. We recruited Glen Roy from MANN+HUMMEL to MANN+HUMMEL Filtration Technology to serve as a business development manager to guide our MANN-FILTER and Purolator sales strategy as we merge purchasing, warehousing and financial systems that support our brands – WIX, MANN-FILTER and Purolator. Glen’s knowledge of MANN-FILTER and Purolator brands and our commitment to those brands and Canadian customers has already helped us streamline our business plus clearly communicate with everyone about the changes, taking the fear out of process.
Glen works alongside Steve Ellis, WIX brand business development manager, and his team of 11 sales experts. Together, Glen and Steve are working to build business plans that will grow and maintain our accounts throughout Canada by talking about the positive changes that have brought the MANN-FILTER, Purolator and WIX brands to the forefront of our sales efforts. Our goal is to sell more of every brand we have access to. We know the Ayr distribution center will achieve even stronger in-stock positions and fill rates, with more organized ordering and delivery. With smart warehousing solutions combined with our best in class filtration products, we trust we’ll be the “simple choice” for our customers for years to come.