Quantifying value key for the modern-day distributor Paul St. Germain, the business development executive for IBM's wholesale distribution industry, shared his insights into business and economic trends affecting the wholesale distribution supply chain at the recent American Supply Association Industrial Piping Division Open House Breakfast Forum in Houston. St. Germain urged distributors to take a comprehensive look at the value they provide in the marketplace and how that value is best communicated. "What is the differentiation they provide?" He asked in an exclusive video interview available at www.supplyht.com. "Not only should distributors determine that, but they should communicate that to their suppliers and customers. Show all the great things they do and try to show that in monetary terms of how they save customers money and how they provide great value in moving their suppliers' products into the marketplace." Another key topic St. Germain discussed was the importance of e-commerce in today's supply-chain space. "One of the challenges for a lot of distributors is looking at ways customers want to do business with them," he said. "At one point it would have been nice to have an electronic commerce site. Now as competition is becoming easier and easier to do business with, it's the response distributors need to make so they are easier to do business with through their e-commerce sites." Earlier, Industrial Info Resources Executive Vice President Michael Bergen told audience members that shale-play development has the United States well-positioned in the energy industry. "If you trail back a few years we've been through a power industry boom and we're starting to come off that cycle primarily due to some of the renewable energy tax credits and what's happening with coal and nuclear," Bergen said in another video interview available at www.supplyht.com. "What we have witnessed now the last couple years is the development of shale plays. Those shale plays are positioning this country to become crude-dependent on itself and not bring in so many imports." Bergen added the abundance of natural gas is having a wide-ranging effect on the industry. "These unconventional shale plays are giving us a long-term flat price point for natural gas, which is attractive to many different industries outside of that," he said. "Even industrial manufacturing in general where they rely on natural gas as a feedstock, we're able to now produce product cheaper than when we sent manufacturing overseas. This is positioning the country to become a bigger export player. The front end of that is spending the money on those plants to actually develop that capacity." Bergen's advice to industrial PVF distributors is simple. "The most important thing is establishing relationships with plant owners," he said. "Who is in the oil and gas space from production facilities to transportation through pipelines in the chemical sector? Establish relationships with engineering, procurement and construction firms. There are a number of companies playing in this market that are winning those contracts." ASA Director of Government Affairs Dan Hilton kicked off the meeting with a Capitol Hill update. Hilton talked about recent headline topics such as marketplace fairness and tax reform, as well as environmental regulations related to fracking. Global Group launches new corporate website The Global Group, which includes Global Stainless Supply, Global Pipe Supply and Forgings, Flanges and Fittings, has consolidated its websites and changed email contact information. Customers and visitors can now contact Global service representatives by the employee's first name (dot) last name @globalgroup1.com. As an example, if the employee's email previously was email@example.com, the new email address will be firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, the group's new website address is www.globalgroup1.com. It replaces the previous www.onestoppvf.com Web location. The Global Group has facilities in Houston, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Richmond, Va. ExxonMobil executive: Bright future for United States Energy Industry ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co. President T.J. Wojnar told attendees of the spring PVF Roundtable in Houston to prepare for more positive momentum coming from the energy sector. "We're in a unique era in the energy industry," Wojnar told the dinner audience at the Westin Galleria. "The rapid development of shale and other resources has opened up a wide range of opportunities." Wojnar cited a plethora of data from the company's 2014 Energy Outlook report (available for viewing at http://corporate.exxonmobil.com/en/) that gives an in-depth look into the future of energy demand around the country. Wojnar added that there will be two billion additional people living in the world by 2040 (1 in every 3 people will be living in either India or China by that time) with about a 35% greater demand for energy. About 60% of the energy demand by 2040, he added, will be supplied by oil and natural gas. Wojnar, who was lauded by attendees for his easy-to-understand presentation, noted there is equal cause for optimism in the U.S. "In October of last year domestic oil production was greater than the sum of all oil imports," he said. "The U. S. will be the world's top oil producer next year. The United States has a unique opportunity and with cooperation and trust there will be an energy renaissance here with wide-ranging benefits. The energy we provide here will fuel an American comeback in a number of industries." During a question-and-answer session after his presentation, Wojnar was honest with his assessment of the likelihood the much-talkedabout Keystone XL pipeline gets completed. "If you look at the economic fundamentals, they are so large and so compelling," he said. "We believe it should be approved, but predicting a timeframe has proven to be a frustrating experience." Another attendee asked Wojnar if there were any speed bumps that could derail this energy optimism. "Probably the biggest threat here is not properly managing relationships with national governing organizations and regulators," he said. "These opportunities have to be managed with safety, the environment and discussion with NGOs and regulators." Prior to Wojnar's keynote address, Supply House Times PVF columnist and ASA Industry Analyst Morrie Beschloss delivered his quarterly industry update and took time to laud the contributions of the country's independent businesspeople. "Hooray to the independent businesspeople of the U.S.," he said. "They have done such a great job with so much against them. These people go out and take the risk of building their own businesses. They hire more people than any others in this country." A day earlier, the PVF Roundtable hosted its sixth annual Don Caffee Memorial Golf Tournament at Sweetwater Country Club. PVF Roundtable board member Kelly Kelsheimer (TWC-Walworth) said the tournament was another major success and raised significant funds for the organization's industrial distribution scholarship program. This year's tournament attracted 276 players who played on 69 teams. "We will probably raise between $35,000 and $40,000 (for the scholarship fund) this year," Kelsheimer said to a room full of cheers. Kelsheimer also lauded the many volunteers for helping put the golf event together, as well as Platinum sponsor City Pipe & Supply and Gold sponsors Welding Outlets, Bonney Forge, Victaulic, TWC-Walworth, Weldbend, Distribution NOW, Ta Chen and Westbrook Mfg. The spring PVF Roundtable drew 500 registrants. The organization's Trout Blast event (which also benefits the PVF Roundtable scholarship fund) takes place Oct. 17 (visit www.PVF.org for more information). The summer PVF roundtable occurs Aug. 19 and will feature a fourperson industry panel discussion as the keynote presentation. ASA hits the road for annual blitz Nine of the American Supply Association's 14 staff members recently divided into four teams for its third-annual member and prospect blitz. The teams visited roughly 60 companies, including members and member prospects throughout Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Each team met with the leadership of each wholesaler and manufacturer company for an in-depth conversation about the benefits ASA offers and to help them understand how to better connect with the association's programs and services. Since the inception of the blitz campaign three years ago, ASA staff personally has visited nearly 225 companies, bringing ASA to the doorstep of current and potential member companies in 25 states.
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