What's the story

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by sal rodriguez, Apr 13, 2010.

  1. sal rodriguez

    sal rodriguez LawnSite Member
    Messages: 45

    OK, so some manu's sell direct to contractors. Then decide to sell through distribution. At that point they will direct you to a distributor and you will probably pay a higher price.

    Distributors , and most due, sell to anyone including homeowners.

    Why is it that contractors don't have a say in who the distributor sells to but the distributor has a say with the manufacturer who they will sell to.

    Who holds the card here?

    Looks like the distributors to me.
  2. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    I think the manu/distrib relationship makes sense for fairly expensive complicated items that need a service center like auto's, tractors, ZTR mowers, maybe computers ( although less so now when a new laptop is nearly sub 400 bucks ). Items that are repaired in the field by us with new lenses, o-rings, sockets, etc, except for the transformer, really make no sense to have a local distributor. My local distributor really does no warrranty work on Nightscaping or FX trans, they usually just send them in. I can do that.

    So as distributors have less value, less folks will use them and turn to the internet to get product. if a manu does not offer it direct to folks on the internet, that manu's products will not get sold to contractors who see less and less value in buying from a local distributor.

    I would say the model that copper moon, landscape lighting world, and garden light are working towards seem to be what more contractors are gravitating to. while they may not have the absolute best product in every category, they do have many items that are solid and long lasting.

    And yes, residential consumers can buy from them and know what you pay. That is no different than my local distibutor, where I see homeowners in there buying FX or nightscaping lights at remarkably similar prices that I pay. anyone that can open the yellow pages can find out aprox. what I pay for fixtures there, or if they search the internet. those folks won't hire me either way.
  3. S&MLL

    S&MLL LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 751

    You hold the card. If you wanna buy direct from a manu... Buy from people like coppermoon or Volt. If you want Kichler or Unique buy from a dist.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2010
  4. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    MOST, Notice I saidmost distributors are very unknowledgeable and add little to no value to my business. Some distributors who have solicited my business stock nothing then when they quote me on ordering things the price is so astronomical I am looking at a very scary bottom line.
  5. Tim R.

    Tim R. LawnSite Member
    Messages: 87

    The day of the "traditional distributor" is coming to an end. Everything is going online and soon they won't be able to keep up. Tail lights...that's all they will see.
  6. Classic Lighting

    Classic Lighting LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 512

    I couldn't agree more. My local distributor sells everything landscaping related, grass seed, pesticide/herbicides, mowers, Stihl, ponds, everything. IMO, lighting is just something to make a few dollars on as it passes through the store. There is no way a distributor can be knowledgeable about products when they sell everything.
  7. steveparrott

    steveparrott LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,276

    This topic has emerged on many occaisions and I find myself needing to point out some very real benefits that brick-and-morter distributors offer to contractors. (Of course, some distributors are better than others in offering these, but most online retailers offer few of these.)

    1. A credit line.
    2. Product in stock - you get to see the product before you buy it - same day availability.
    3. Enhanced delivery options - sometimes free, sometimes directly to the job site.
    4. Trained personnel - people who are physically present and available to help you - in many ways.
    5. Flexible pricing.
    6. Job referrals.
    7. Facilitate warranty claims, may even repair products on site.
    8. On-site training, open houses.

    Also, don't forget that saving a few dollars on products is not going to make or break your business. Establishing a mutually supportive partnership with a distributor, on the other hand, could help your business significantly.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2010
  8. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    Very well stated Steve! :clapping:

    I have been using the same distributor for over 80% of my purchases for 12 years now. The relationship I have built with them is very strong and they are an important component in my success. The time and expense they save me in sourcing, importing, stocking and shipping is much greater than any savings I would realize in sourcing my products directly. My account rep understands my business very well and always has good suggestions for alternative lines and items and understands what I mean when I make a typo on a Purchase Order. Think of it this way... would you rather foster and develop multiple relationships with multiple sales people and manufacturers, issue multiple PO's, track multiple shipments, check inventory on multiple deliveries, and then have to pay multiple statements and invoices every month.... OR would you rather deal with one person at one place and cut one cheque per month? Time is money.
  9. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    As a contractor who is forced to order and have it shipped to me alot of these benefits are lost. Shipping charges add up fast... most want your CC number up front vs a line of credit (adds up to alot of flyer miles!). Warranty requires me to pay the shipping back to the dist. I do miss having a local dist that can take care of me. When I had a real brick and mortar distributor I never looked elsewhere.

    One of the other problems I see is when spec ordering fixtures. I think we have a higher margin for error when we order specialty stuff from a dist. Too many people trying to communicate something.

    On-site training = recruit new bodies to install lighting ? I think Distributors would be better off spending those dollars helping the existing PRO's grow and sharing in the benefits of our larger volume vs recruiting new guys to install.

    Once again I want to point out that some distributors are better than others. I have had some real nightmares ordering from some. Anytime I have ordered direct from some sources it has been fast and hassle free.

    Just some of my random thoughts on the subject.

    Im curious how many guys buy from an irrigation distributor that is knowledgeable vs a lighting only dist that is knowledgeable ? I have yet to find a irrigation house that knows much about lighting.
  10. Classic Lighting

    Classic Lighting LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 512

    In my experience, irrigation dist is more knowledgeable about LV than lighting only dist. I have visited a few lighting onlys and they look at me weird when I ask about LV :confused:

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