2021: When Mike Maggio says that “surviving” has been the biggest achievement for S.P. Richards (SPR) over the past year, he is not joking. When he and Yancey Jones led the takeover of the US wholesaler, effective 1 July 2020, they were not expecting the coronavirus pandemic to still be impacting market conditions more than 12 months later.
Nevertheless, despite the challenges of COVID on the business products sector, SPR has been able to make significant progress on a number of fronts. These include:
Standing up the company after it was acquired from Genuine Parts (GPC)
The three areas where SPR relied most heavily on GPC – HR, accounting and IT – were separated by December 2020. This just leaves some freight and global sourcing agreements in place, which make sense for both parties to maintain.
Around $16 million has been invested in infrastructure, with three new distribution facilities in Chicago (IL), Columbus (OH) and Atlanta (GA). The latter, in particular, represents a technology leap for SPR, with more automation and the use of robotic picking. This comes not only from a need to be more efficient, but also to help the wholesaler to help overcome the challenges of recruiting in the distribution channel.
When Jones and Maggio came in, their goal was to transform SPR from an office products wholesaler into an independent business products distributor. This has meant moving from a catalogue-based approach to merchandising to one that is market driven. As such, SPR has been working with manufacturers to expand the product offering – even beyond what the wholesaler physically stocks – to better cater to what customers actually want to purchase.
There has also been a move to dispel the idea that second-call customers are somehow ‘second-class citizens’, with SPR marketing itself as a distributor for ALL customers. One example of this is the new RDC programme with dealer group ISG, which will serve both SP and Essendant first-call dealers.
SPR’s vision has been encapsulated in a recent brand refresh that comes with the tagline, ‘Not just a wholesaler, the whole package’.
For more on recent developments at SPR, make sure you tune in to this July 2021 OPI Talk podcast featuring Maggio and Jones.