Research pays

Research paysRichard Wilson
Anglia is one of those firms which defies the claim that “well all distributors are essentially the same aren’t they?” For Anglia the art of distribution is not simply filling up your line card with as many franchises as you can justify and then to sell as much product as possible.
Anglia’s managing director Bill Ingram (right)relishes the idea of being different from his larger competitors, but he recognises that it is something which is only possible because he runs a private company. “It’s a family business with no shareholders so we are able to run the business and not have it run by someone else,” points out Ingram.
Ingram’s approach combines traditional franchised distribution of passive components and electromechanical products, with a more pro-active approach as a stocking agent. Anglia profiles and researches hundreds of component manufacturers every year, searching out the best quality components, and importing direct under its own brands, to cut out the middle man and give their customers a competitive advantage.
“When you import product as we do, you realise very quickly that the buck stops with us,” says Ingram. “We have to guarantee the reliability of the product and the source of supply.”
Not only does this involve the clocking up of many thousands of air-miles, many of Anglia’s suppliers are in the Far East, it also represents a certain degree of risk and the necessity to identify the right products and the most reliable suppliers.
Typically, only ten per cent of the 3,000 products evaluated each year make it into the Anglia product range. Inevitably it is a time consuming exercise, but it is this filtering process which the distributor believes gives it an edge in the highly competitive UK market.
Potential new products are brought back to Anglia’s 15 strong technical team for testing not only against datasheet figures, but also for extended life testing using more than ?0.5m worth of commercial and specially developed test gear. “It can take 12 months to get a new product on board, even 1,000 hours of life test can take 40 days,” he adds.
While the company sells most of the products itself, some 20 per cent of turnover comes from supplying imported products to other distributors.
The trick for Ingram is balancing the specialist importer side of the business, “the interesting stuff”, with its more traditional franchised distributor activities. Bussman, Redpoint Thermalloy and Beckman are three of Anglia’s electromechanical franchises which generate a healthy chunk of its business. And we can believe Ingram when he wryly adds: “Most of our business is not a quick sell at all.”

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