About

Bernard Martin

My comments are written from a bit of a different perspective than others because I have a different set of “baggage” than you. Yes, I have worked on different sides of the supply chain; management, sales, marketing and operations and worked in different industry sectors but so have you.

In this “about” section I’m sharing my background so you have an understanding of where I’m coming from and what I’m seeing. We’re all seeing something a bit different.

Education
I graduated with an undergrad degree in Political Science and a concentration in Economics. I completed the bulk of my MBA with the exception of a Political, Econ and 2 classes on writing a strategic plan… which I did promptly and started a company but more about that later.

Management & Sales Consultant
Early in my career I worked as a sales consultant with Ken Launikonis who was closely associated with David Sandler before he started the Sandler Sales Institute. This proved to be an educational experience like no other. Working with a myriad of different industries from car dealerships, copier sales, insurance sales, banks, manufacturers, steel mills, telemarketers and even advertising specialties. It was a day-to day learning, EYE OPENING experience that lead to vast amounts of reading about management theory and history as well as sales systems and history.

Let me tell you, walking into a business owner’s office when your 23 years old, wet behind the ears on a cold call and asking for $3,000 – $5,000 for training from someone who built the company from the ground up and you just met isn’t easy., BUT it’s a tremendous learning experience.

The Start-ups
Back in the late 80’s- early 90’s it made sense to pay attention to developing trends just like it does today. Working with several start-up companies at the same time as a consultant teaches you how to juggle. Home delivery of groceries, importing hot sauce from Jamaica, co-merchandising & marketing with LaBatt’s, dealing with the Defense Logistics Agency on procurement, segmented b-to-b telemarketing, concrete salt storage domes to every county & municipality in the US, and eventually settling in at a Tool & Die maker.

Oh, did I mention selling Cray supercomputer service sales and database development?

Machine Shop to Manufacturer

The manufacting experience is a bit unique in that I was VP of an East Coast Machine Shop that introduced a product to the Metalcutting industry, the Toolex Vise, which gave me some interesting insights into what it took to change, operationally, from a short run machine shop into a manufacturing operation. After you’ve been a consultant for a while you start to wonder why only 5% of what you recommend ever gets implemented and what would happen if more where done.

North American Distribution Channels

As Toolex expanded into a channel marketing matrix, they had made the same mistakes other have made when new to using agents and distributors. They sold direct in some cases and questioned agent and distributor loyalty. It was great to bring the wealth of other industry experience and process to bear on the manufacturing industry. Once we understood how distributors worked, we ended up do very well in the markets farthest away from our location: 500%+ growth!

Global Distribution

As the expansion continued, we started to set up master distributors in other countries…. a rather unique experience learning the nuances of how different areas of the globe utilize different channels programs.

Industrial Distribution

From Toolex I moved to the West Coast and became an Industrial Distributor territory manager for Western Tool & Supply.  It was a tremendous learning experience to find out how other manufacturer’s approached distribution, how they went to market, how they viewed distributor salespeople and managed open, limited and select distribution models. I suspect I asked some questions that where not commonly asked by distributor salespeople.

Manufacturer’s Representative (Agent)

When my son was born, we moved back to Pittsburgh, PA to be near our familes and I started a manufacturer’s rep agency. Being an agent for 8 years brought to light a different perspective.  Starting an agency, pioneering new product lines, transitioning brands from open distribution models to limited models, developing machine tool dealer programs, watching manufacturer’s experience the growing pains of more sales, stock out issues, commissions not paid, commission adjustments, learning that just by looking at a product line card can tell you an awful lot about which agents or manufacturer’s have strong relationships with a distributor, which distributers are technical houses, which are selling on price alone and what motivates individual outside sales people.

Industrial Distributor start-up

Starting an industrial distributor from scratch in an economy like 2009 could be viewed as a bit difficult.  Creating logo’s, websites, jackets, line cards, selecting manufacturing vendors based upon who we would compete with, who has long term relationship potential, who can be trusted, who has existing relationships, and then establishing credit, choosing buying groups to join, catalogs to private label, database software to choose, inventory to build, and most importantly, how to break into accounts that have existing and established distributor vendors…. changing buying habits….

ProBono
One of the very best things that you can do is volunteer for a good cause. Especially if doing it not only helps the organization but if it permits you to see inside other industries.

Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix
For those that don’t know, the PVGP is a 10 day event that gets over 210,000 people on race weekend and it all benefits Autism efforts. As an all volunteer organization it’s one of those places that you can bring your skill sets and further your own education at the same time. As the social media phenomenon has taken hold it has been very educational to be a part of it.

What started as a simple question “Why aren’t there more exotic Italian cars here?” (and the corresponding “Great idea, You’re in charge!”) turned into creating a ning website, a facebook fan page, installing google analytics, a twitter site, a beta site on SpeedTV, dealing with auto manufacturers and absolutely incredible discussions with collectors of fine Italian macchina

Gifted Education
Again, what starts out rather simple can evolve. I became involved in gifted education and how learning actually takes place in the brain. You would really be surprised how this really ties alot of puzzle pieces together. Learning how the brain works, how connections are made, or not made, really gives you a better understanding of what motivates people, self organizing structures, biological systems, business models, organizational structures and yes, social media.

In summary

When you get right down to it, it’s all really about how things work and always asking “what if…” As you read my comments I welcome your feedback.  The perspective I try to provide is based upon my knowledge of the various segments of the supply chain, but also bringing in some information from “other” sources and industries. What that really means is that I can bring you some information but real innovative things will only come to light if you bring “your baggage” and experience.

As I tell my young son, “I learn something new every day, some days I find out something that completely changes my entire view on a subject I’ve read extensively about. So be open to everything new”

Sometimes, what looks to be an ideal “way” falls flat on it’s face because of one small hurdle, one foundation level mistake, one “horseshoe nail”

Please share your insights and let’s learn some things together.

For Want of a Nail

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

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