Industrial Distribution program launches large research consortium

April 30, 2014
| By: Aubrey Bloom

The Thomas and Joan Read Center for Distribution Research & Education, a center within the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) and part of the Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution at Texas A&M University, launched an industry funded large research consortium with a kick-off meeting on April 11.

Seventeen companies to date fund the Optimizing Human Capital Development consortium that is focused on the distribution industry. Each member pays a membership fee of $25,000 to participate in the consortium.

Dr. F. Barry Lawrence, Leonard and Valarie Bruce Chair and director of the Read Center stressed the importance and significance of the development of human capital for distributors at the consortium meeting. He added that the speed at which most distribution firms can grow (profitably) doesn't solely depend on the distributor's geographic reach, physical assets, product selection, access to capital or innovative services. It depends on its human resources.

Human resources are the most significant factor in distributor success. Not on the balance sheet and only listed on the profit and loss statement as an expense, the value of human resources within a company is often underestimated. Distributors have expended tremendous energy in optimizing operations with information technology, facility development, inventory control, transportation management, and so forth. Human resources are often left behind due to a lack of resources for training, a poor understanding of the return-on- investment (ROI) for human resources development, and the perception that people are more expendable than other assets within the business.

The consortium will conduct a second kick-off meeting on August 15, 2014 for companies joining between now and August. This will be followed by company specific workshops between August and January 2015. The research team will then develop tools and methods for human capital assessment, development and linking it to return-on-investment. These tools will be delivered to the companies along with their confidential assessment during the closing meeting in April 2015.

The consortium is conducted in partnership with the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributor Institute, the largest distribution association in the world with more than 40,000 members. This consortium is preceded by successful distribution focused consortia on Pricing Optimization, Optimizing Distributor Profitability, Optimizing Sale & Marketing, Optimizing Distributor Growth and Market Share and Optimizing Channel Compensation.

The research team includes Industrial Distribution faculty Dr. F. Barry Lawrence, Dr. Kris Rana, Mark Johnson, Norm Clark, Dr. Jia Wang (Department of Educational Administration & Human Resource Development within the College of Education) and Bharani Nagarathnam, Associate Director of the Read Center.

For more than 30 years, the Read Center has been the leader in wholesale and industrial distribution research and education. The Read Center is the only distribution focused research center on any university campus in the U.S. The center conduct applied research projects, consortia and technical services to the distributor and manufacturing community. The center has been offering distributor sales, operations, and finance courses since the early 1980s. Each year, the center conducts more than 25 professional development programs at both on-campus and off-campus locations all over the U.S.



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