B-to-B Goes ‘Plug and Play’
According to Weiss, catalog marketing is one of the fastest-growing market segments of his waste-receptacle business today. Having grown up in the family business, he has been involved in all aspects — from manufacturing and engineering to finance and marketing. Weiss continues to maintain a personal relationship with many of the company’s largest catalog marketers/customers, carefully monitoring the sales performance of each product they offer.
With United being a manufacturer as well as a cataloger, Lesh believes the services and support he and his team provide to other merchants who sell United’s products is important to the success of both businesses. More broadly, he continues, manufacturers’ support is critical to the mail-order industry as a whole.
Understanding United’s B-to-B Catalog
Like that of many b-to-b marketers, United’s catalog is not a selling vehicle, but an information tool. It’s a piece of literature annually mailed to distributors and business customers to familiarize them with the product line, so they can better market it to their end-user b-to-b buyers.
Selling a United Receptacle product requires a three-tiered b-to-b sales structure in which United is the manufacturer, which markets to the distributor/cataloger. Then the cataloger sells to the end-user companies, among which are major corporations, universities, hospitals and hotels. End-users may place orders worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. And therein lies the bread and butter of United’s business: “We have over 6,000 active distributors selling products for us,” says Lesh. These distributors focus mainly on the jan/san market, because it’s so broad and wide-reaching, but they also cover hospitals, hotels/hospitality, corporate, universities, you name it. The list goes on as far as the mind can imagine. “Anyplace you can think of a trash can,” jokes Lesh.
United also works with three major wholesalers from the office products market to supply its merchandise to offices and corporations.