In the not to distant past, BL was considered one of the best when it came to servicing Industrial accounts. They had the leadership, the focus, and most importantly the experienced sales force that knew how to translate products, service, and value into PROFITS! If you want to save/turn around this company, this would be a great place to start. Let's be clear, when I speak of Industrials, I don't mean re-classifying commodity items as Industrial. Spend the money on the experienced people who can get the job done!
BL destroyed their industrial program when they first started their reorganizing back 14 years ago. They started to limit the types of industrial products they were going to carry, the types of industrial customers they wanted to service, and the credit terms they would extend (or wouldn't) to this type of customer base. I saw it all first hand and was in the thick of it.... When they "reorganized" and closed over half their branches, got rid of their 5 regional offices, and all the shuffling started, things fell apart quickly. Most of the best sales people left the company and went to work for the competitors. The sales people who were left started to cover bigger and bigger territories....until they were covering the size of a territory that about 5 or 6 reps had covered before...They were spread thin and had fewer delivery options, and a smaller inventory of (true industrial)products to sell.... Was as shame what happened....
They can sell a lot but they sell too cheap. When they enter the industrial market, they sell like they are selling commodities, not products that usually get higher margins that industrial products command. One only has to look at the P&L and see that they sell to cheap. When faced as a competitor in the field, they are laughable at their approach to industrials. They have no idea what they are doing. They are fraught with ignorance and stupidity.
I have been on both sides of the fence (dealer and industrial)... the grass is brown on both sides... the items (hardwood plywood, melamine and so on ) that sell at a premium to dealers do not fetch a good margin to industrials anymore. When the economy went south, suppliers went direct to industrial customers. The industrial market is not going to be the John The Baptist that will get ANY distributor out of this situation.