2020 Top 50 Distributors: Smart Source LLC On Reimagining the Traditional Approach and How It’s Paid Off
Over the last decade, industry talk has turned to extending the value proposition of the supply chain partnership. Companies are no longer categorized as “manufacturers” or “distributorships” (except when it comes to Print+Promo’s respective Top 50 lists); rather, “marketing service providers” has become the preferred descriptor. MSPs are expert communicators who excel at hearing the voice of the customer and responding to that voice. But what happens when organizations slash marketing budgets because of downswings in revenue or the economy? A savvy MSP maximizes adaptability because they know success depends on pivoting quickly and efficiently in the face of disruptive change.
Just look at the distributors, or MSPs, that comprise Print+Promo’s 2020 Top 50 Distributors chart. Before COVID-19 ravaged the world, personal protective equipment (PPE) never had a place in their product lines. Now, it’s a lifeline–and, for some, it has taken them above fiscal year projections. That’s not to say these business leaders have it all figured out. They are humans grieving lost routines, social connections and a sense of security like the rest of us. They lie awake at night worrying about the welfare of their employees.
To provide additional context, we spoke to Thomas D’Agostino Jr., CEO of Smart Source LLC, No. 5 on the list.
In our past conversations, you’ve been very accepting of change, understanding that it’s the one constant in an unpredictable world. You’ve also maintained that your company’s future success is based on each of your sales reps embracing the change that is occurring in the marketplace. Considering that 2020 has been a year of unprecedented change, how have you and your team been adapting?
Thomas D’Agostino Jr.: Before our team was able to embrace the change that was occurring at a rate never previously experienced, they first put forth an effort to understand several key aspects of the change, which included: identifying what markets/businesses were being impacted the most, what Smart Source product lines would be best suited to offset some of the impact being experienced and, finally, what was the best way to take these products and services to market during the given climate. We quickly accepted the fact that selling traditional products to our existing customer base was not going to be successful. As a result of approaching 2020 through fresh eyes, we will finish the year with an increase over 2019 sales.
How has the COVID-19 climate impacted Smart Source?
TDJ: Unfortunately, we have had multiple Smart Source team members diagnosed with COVID. We are thrilled to say that all of them have seen full recovery from this devastating virus. Rather than putting plans on hold, as a company we have actually been very aggressive in moving forward with strategic initiatives that were put in place both before and during COVID. We have faith in our country and the resilience of our citizens. Because of this, we feel it is critical for Smart Source to be well-positioned to capitalize on the pent-up demand that will be unleashed during the second half of next year, post-vaccine. Many of our plans are addressing this preparation.
How can your supplier partners better assist you right now to ensure you remain successful? Are there areas where they’re excelling?
TDJ: Smart Source has taken a step back to look at our customers and the markets they serve through a different lens, based on the unique environment we are faced with. This has allowed us to be creative in bringing new and innovative ideas to the forefront that address the new world we are in as it relates to our customers. We would ask that our suppliers do the same for Smart Source. We are very pleased to say that many of our key suppliers have accomplished this, and more. We ask that this ongoing innovation and creativity continue in the products and services introduced to Smart Source.
How do you motivate and inspire teams to achieve big goals, especially when things feel so heavy right now?
TDJ: Our team members have a very clear understanding of the negativity that surrounds them and their families today. It is reinforced by the media hourly. It is the responsibility of our leadership team to constantly provide vision of where we are going both as an organization, as well as business community in general. By keeping our focus on the possibilities of next year, we are all inspired to move beyond where we are today. The future is bright!
What goal(s) are you most excited for in 2021?
TDJ: Smart Source is fully committed to our BPO presence. We are looking forward to great results in 2021 in this area. In addition, many of the operational best practices supporting BPO customers also have excellent application with our transactional business. These processes will continue to be refined and implemented in 2021.
View the full 2020 Top 50 Distributors list here.
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