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ORBD gives small- to mid-sized companies the tools to compete


SAN DIEGO Following 12 “Meet the Retailer/How to do Business With…” meetings here this morning, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores brought the small- to mid-size companies, defined as companies with less than $200 million in annual revenue, that are the focus of the Outreach & Business Development subcommittee of the NACDS Retail Advisory Board up to speed on how board initiatives are favoring those companies with better business opportunities and what new initiatives are being executed against in the coming year.

More than 600 members of NACDS fall into that small- to mid-size bracket, Fitz Elder, NACDS chief member relations officer and ORBD staff liasion, told attendees. “[That] is by far the largest section of NACDS membership,” he said.

Bill Baxley, who spoke on behalf of retailers, encouraged new companies to “get engaged.” Two years ago, the ORBD didn’t exist, he said, and quite honestly smaller suppliers didn’t have as great a voice as they do today. “[But] this is where the energy comes from,” he said. “The industry is changing,” he said, gravitating toward more of a health and wellness focus.

In short, those initiatives, which include those “Meet the Retailer” meetings, are helping to fortify those small- to mid-size players who are new to the channel and get them up to rapid speed on how to best compete in the food, drug and mass markets. That, in turn, is being parlayed into not only more success stories, but more sustainable success stories. The ORBD has formed four working groups—Best Business Practices, Emerging Best Practices in Retailing, Products to Market and Broker/Manufacturer’s Represenetative—to help develop those learnings that foster success. Across all of those committees, 58 companies participate in those working groups, Elder said, including nine retailers (with 19 executives participating) and seven dedicated NACDS staff members.

Going forward, the ORBD will be looking to shift its focus a little so that small- to mid-size suppliers already with years of experience under their collective belts will likewise draw some actionable learnings from ORBD events. In addition to the “Meet the Retailer” events, which included retailer-specific meetings with CardinalHealth, Meijer, Kmart, Walgreens, Chain Drug Consortium, Rite Aid, Wal-Mart, Wegmans, Costco Pharmacy, CVS/Caremark, Longs Drugs and SUPERVALU, the ORBD is well on its way in planning what will be the third Successful Selling conference, a conference specifically designed around introducing new suppliers to the channel and potentially matching them to appropriate distribution, sales and marketing representatives where appropriate.

Dan Mack, vice president of consumer sales and customer marketing for DenTek Oral Care and point man on the Products to Market work group, suggested that a key focus would be to include learnings that a small- to mid-tier company with plenty of experience navigating the mass retail waters would find of value.

On a similar note, Todd Kwait, president of Product Quest Manufacturing and the leader of the ORBD Emerging Best Practices in Retailing Work Group, suggested that there may be some value in including small- to mid-tier retailers, such as Pharmaca in the Denver area, in future how-to-reach-the-market forums. “They are really the drug retailers of the future,” he said, especially those niche retailers focused on delivering more intimate health and wellness experiences.

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