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On Distribution Talk, we dive into the stories, struggles and solutions from interesting characters who have chosen to make a career in the distribution industry. My goal is to entertain, educate and inspire you through these brief conversations.  Thank you for visiting.  If you like what you hear, come visit us often. -Jason

Dec 2, 2020

“Your best customers are subsidizing your worst customers.” ~Franke Hurtte

Talking shop with Frank Hurtte is akin to auditing a masterclass in distribution longevity: no matter the vertical, he’s always ready with a personal anecdote and answers to some of today’s most challenging problems.

Frank has successfully parlayed 28 years in direct distribution into a consultancy, as well as a byline on multiple books and hundreds of industry articles. He shares some of that expertise with DT listeners for free - a tactic he says distributors themselves should abandon now before it costs them their entire business.

“The people I work with are people that add some value to everything that they sell.” Frank dubs these clients knowledge-based distributors, men and women who trade in more than just boxes of stuff. They’re product specialists, and it’s beyond time to stop giving away that knowledge for free, in essence, devaluing the customer service they bring to the table. 


Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.

This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios. 

Connect with Jason Bader on LinkedIn.

Connect with Franke Hurtte on LinkedIn.


“The small guys got to do something to differentiate themselves,” Frank says. He suggests the best way to survive amidst the big players in the industry is through product information and customer service - two benefits Amazon isn’t interested in providing. The trick, of course, is to know when, how, and who to extend the value to - and at what cost. 

Frank counters pushback from those who balk at charging for expertise with trademark earnestness. “Unless you get a handle on that, you’re going to be a former, really-popular-but-out-of-business distributor.”

Far less controversial a topic, but equally important to a company’s success, is participation in distribution associations. Frank champions active membership, citing engagement as one of the best ways to cultivate resilience in yourself and the industry as a whole. 

“Somebody’s [within the group] going to have a solution out there, and it’s good to build that network of friends that can help you through those situations.” Frank sees the knowledge shared among members as a real difference-maker to a company’s culture and its bottom line. “That’s the trade secret.”

Listen in for more of Frank’s trade secrets, including his favorite resources: Value-Added Selling by Tom Reilly and Paul Reilly; and Dr. Albert D. Bates of Distribution Performance Project



The Distribution Channel

The Distributor’s Fee Based Services Manifesto on Amazon