COMPANY PROFILE: A Model Distribution Solution

October 1, 2004
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Ashland Distribution has developed a service-oriented system that has allowed it to become a leading distributor of brand-name chemicals, solvents and raw materials to the North American adhesives and sealants market.



Headquartered in Columbus, OH, Ashland is showing the chemical industry how a strong business model can service both bulk chemical and less-than-load/mixed-load customers effectively and economically.

"Two key differences between Ashland and most other distributors are our broad product offering and our supply base," says John Kirchner, director, Source Management for Chemicals, Ashland Distribution. "We are very proud to represent the leaders in chemical manufacturing, and we work closely with our suppliers to make sure that we continue to meet the needs of our customers.

"Additionally, we have local warehouses nationwide, an experienced sales staff that knows our markets, and our own truck fleet for greater logistical control of our deliveries."

Strong supplier relationships enable Ashland to provide leveraged technical support to those who otherwise might not get it: less-than-load customers (those ordering less than 80 55-gal drums of a single product or less than 4,000 gal bulk) and mixed truckload customers (those ordering a combination of products totaling 80 drums and 4,000 gal). Ashland Distribution caters to these customers, in many ways acting as an interpreter of sorts between manufacturer and client.

"Most manufacturers focus their resources toward large direct accounts," Kirchner says. "In general, we have observed that suppliers and manufacturers are placing fewer resources on `smaller' accounts. They rely on their distributors, such as Ashland, to handle these accounts."

Ashland's technical center in Dublin, OH, maintains the most current analytical equipment available, including infrared, gas chromatography, mass spectrometry and GC FTIR. Combined with a comprehensive technical service and support team (including four chemists with more than 120 years of combined service), the state-of-the-art facility allows the company to provide something unique in the chemical distribution business-in-depth technical support.

Ashland's chemists interact with four key groups: customers, suppliers, the Ashland sales force and plant personnel. The chemists supply a variety of technical information and service, such as sample analysis, formulation assistance, and guidance on regulatory information and alternatives. They also provide the Ashland sales force with telephone backup and joint-sales call support, and assist plant personnel in quality control and material handling. Finally, Ashland's long-term relationships allow it access to its suppliers' own technical support staffs in order to resolve customer issues.

The final benefit of Ashland's distribution model is its ability to see customers through the last phase of product use. Since 1981, Ashland Distribution has offered an environmental services program to help dispose of or recycle chemical waste. Like the distribution arm of the company, the Environmental Services group relies upon an extensive network of trucks and storage facilities-as well as relationships with leading treatment and disposal companies-to ensure regulatory compliance for a range of waste streams in virtually any quantity or container. It is this depth of service that keeps Kirchner optimistic about Ashland's future in the distribution business.

"As we are today, we will remain one of North America's leading chemical distributors," he says, "always looking for new ways to improve our service to our customers to help make them successful."

For more information on Ashland Distribution Co., visit http://www.ashdist.com or call (888) 444-3040.

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