As a leader in supplying quality products to the energy sector, DistributionNOW has become a successful entity in supply chain management due in large part to its emphasis on customer service and efficiency.
Headquartered in Houston, Texas, DistributionNOW is a global distributor of products catered toward the energy industry, such as pipe and tubing, manual and actuated valves, fittings, flanges, gaskets, fasteners, instrumentation, power transmission products, mill and janitorial supplies, hand and power tools, machine cutting tools, safety products, personal protective equipment (PPE), electrical products, artificial lift equipment, pumps, drilling and production products, and industrial paint and coatings. Offering more than 300,000 SKUs worldwide, DistributionNOW’s vast array of products for the energy industry means that the company has invested a lot in ensuring its products are delivered on time, no matter the location.
“Our ability to source and globally leverage buying capability to get product at competitive prices is what makes us stand out in the market,” says Brad Wise, VP of Marketing for DistributionNOW.
The company has more than 300 locations throughout the world in more than 20 countries and serves a number of different market sectors, including Chemical Processing, Drilling, Exploration and Production, Industrial Manufacturing, Midstream, Refining and Petrochemical, and Utilities and Gas Distribution.
For the Chemical Processing market, DistributionNOW’s products focus on the complexity of the industry, with an emphasis on stainless steel, alloy, and specialty products, and the technical support behind those products, as the company’s website, distributionnow.com, explains. The company also offers in-house automation capabilities for all of its valve products as well as a complete line of mill and janitorial supplies, tools, and safety products and services to fully complement the requirements of a chemical company.
For the Drilling market, DistributionNOW’s product offerings cater to both offshore and onshore operations. Products include OEM drilling equipment parts, as well as a fleet of project / hook-up trailers to support customer field operations. Additionally, DistributionNOW offers custom vendor-managed inventory (VMI) solutions for onshore and offshore drilling operations, utilizing its supply chain technologies to streamline inventory management and avoid rig downtime. Known as RigPAC, the line of customizable consignment containers provides savings for companies by supplying needed goods on-site, eliminating excess purchasing. The containers are secure and reliable, and are serviced by the assigned local DistributionNOW branch location personnel.
DistributionNOW’s Exploration and Production offerings include both products and supply chain management services. Besides providing line pipe and fittings, instrumentation, wellhead components and power transmission items, DistributionNOW also provides artificial lift products and services for this market.
Services in the Industrial Manufacturing market include material / tool management, process optimization, analytics, machining services and vending. DistributionNOW’s teams conduct field audits on customer inventories to identify, count, classify, and value materials. This data is used to take care of customer costing, sourcing, procurement services, expediting, staging, shipping, and receiving.
Midstream services consist of supply chain solutions to help ensure operational efficiency and safety. The company provides products such as pipe and tubing, high yield materials, valves and automation packages, metering skids, pig launchers and receivers, compressor skids and project management solutions.
DistributionNOW’s warehouse and inventory management has given the company extensive knowledge, hands-on industry experience, and a global presence. The company has the capability to automate recurring orders and manage all ordering, receiving, distribution, and payment for materials. This allows DistributionNOW to reduce costs and maintain the technical product support and expertise needed for a customer’s supplier base. Integrated supply allows for reduction of internal costs, such as inventory holding, transaction costs, labor, procurement, and payables.
Having such a large number of services in so many locations can be quite complex, but Wise believes that DistributionNOW’s dedication to efficiency and its focus on customer service and product knowledge means the company stands out in the market.
“Our locations all have dedicated inventory to service their local market,” he explains. “A customer looking to do business in multiple areas can look to us no matter the location because they’re still dealing with one company. Even where we don’t have a location, we can export the products our customers need.”
Each of DistributionNOW’s locations serves a 200 mile radius and all have personnel dedicated to sales, warehousing, inventory, and fleet delivery. The company has eight distribution centers around the world to replenish inventory either to the branch offices themselves or direct to customers.
Although DistributionNOW got its start in 2014, the company’s history goes back 150 years. The company was originally the distribution segment for National Oilwell Varco (NOV), a provider of oil and gas components. Even in its brief history as a standalone company, DistributionNOW has made notable inroads in streamlining its processes to ensure efficient delivery of products, including the implementation of a unified Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.
“Our ERP system will afford a lot of benefits to provide market and inventory solutions across all locations,” says Wise. “This will enable us to move product from one location to another, which will benefit our customers and better serve them, making us more consistent and dependable. Our customers will have a higher chance to get the products they need due to the system, and we will have higher fill rates, minimize buyouts (when company runs out of stock), and help with on-time delivery.”
DistributionNOW also utilizes additional technology, from wireless scanners to warehouse management systems to voice automation and more, helping the company become even more efficient in the delivery of its products.
Because of DistributionNOW’s extensive product line, the company’s product division covers a number of purposes. For example, its Category Management team is composed of product specialists, directors, and buyers who are responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with manufacturers and suppliers. Category Management is also responsible for the quality assurance aspects of the relationships, including the resolution of any issues with suppliers, with the assistance of the Quality Department. The overall strategy of Category Management is to provide quality products at the lowest overall cost to customers, utilizing global sourcing and measurement to continuously improve product offerings and service.
With such a diverse range of product offerings, the company has been able to weather the recent downturn in oil prices that has affected many companies in the energy industry. “The reduction in oil prices affected a few of our divisions such as drilling and exploration,” shares Wise. “It didn’t have as much impact on industrial manufacturing, midstream and downstream. We are looking at how we manage through downturns of rig counts, but there is an opportunity there to work with our customers to reduce costs on supply chain and the products we provide, and in helping them efficiently manage supply chain elements. Other companies that have been affected by the downturn are looking to reduce costs, so we are working with them to decrease operational costs; we see a great opportunity for that.”
Wise believes that having a clear vision and a strong sense of integrity has been critical to the overall success of the company. “We believe in doing the right thing and going the extra mile for customers by providing top quality service and fulfilling what our customers ask for,” he states.
Another top priority is DistributionNOW’s focus on safety. Its emphasis on preventing accidents and creating a safe work environment is evidenced by the company’s provision of safety services including inspection, maintenance, repair, rental, and training in life-saving equipment such as respiratory gear, portable gas monitors, portable fire equipment, safety showers, and fall protection.
Another priority, of course, is the need to provide high-quality products and to share knowledge. This has driven DistributionNOW to focus on educating its suppliers, vendors, and employees. “We work with top suppliers to bring products to market and resolve challenges,” Wise says. “Whether we’re at a trade show or in front of a customer or technical sales support, this helps everyone better understand products and features.”
With its substantial product line, its dedication to sourcing and supply chain management, and its flexible business model, DistributionNOW is there to meet the needs of its customers in the energy industry. “We feel our customers should focus on what they do best while we provide warehouse and inventory control,” says Wise. “One size doesn’t fit all and we work across many of our business models with customers in different areas. We are a one-stop shop for these services and we know energy and manufacturing. Our products and our people are there to provide a high level of service and deliver results in our target markets.”