Competition is a good thing for NEXT Plumbing Supply, wholesaler of plumbing fixtures and supplies based in Deerfield Beach, Florida. In the traditional sense of the word, competition pits businesses against one another. Not so in the case of NEXT Plumbing Supply. The company, which got its start in 2003, looked at their kitchen and bath dealer competition in the eye – and then opened its doors to partner with them.
The three branches with incorporated 2,500 square feet showrooms located in Deerfield Beach, Orlando, and West Palm Beach, Florida, cater to other showrooms throughout the central and southern regions of the Sunshine State. This strategy is the brainchild of partners, President David Lopatin, CEO Marc Lopatin (David’s father), and Vice President Larry Cohen. Whereas the showrooms are open to retail customers and the trade — including designers, plumbers, and contractors — a sizable portion of the business is wholesale, which involves other showrooms, or dealers as they are referred to in the industry.
Because of the heavy focus on wholesale, NEXT maintains significant inventory in its warehouses. The key to effectively balancing its inventory to cost-of-sales ratio, according to NEXT President David Lopatin, is partnering with the right manufacturers, like American Standard®. “What makes us different is that we are consolidating our product lines,” says Lopatin. “Manufacturers, in general, have been widening their breadth of product, which has caused us to partner with a select few that have more product lines.” This rationale has led to more cohesive relationships between NEXT Plumbing Supply and its manufacturer partners, which has resulted in a more efficient inventory solution for servicing dealers.
LESS IS MORE
Partnering with fewer manufacturers allows NEXT Plumbing Supply customers to focus on broad, more complete product lines from renowned companies like American Standard, Jado® and Porcher®, in Lopatin’s estimation, as opposed to a plethora of fragmented lines from numerous manufacturers. The idea is to avoid confusion on the showroom floor. “When customers are presented with lots of product lines, it’s often confusing to them, and ultimately they give up,” explains Lopatin, adding, “By narrowing down the manufacturers to those that are most respected in the industry and that have the broadest range of products, it becomes less confusing. In other words, it enables us to offer a more complete solution to all our customers, including both wholesalers and retailers alike.” In addition, Lopatin believes it enables NEXT to be a more committed partner to manufacturers, while allowing for a more efficient inventory system.
Equally important to NEXT Plumbing Supply’s wholesale customers is profit margin potential. “We support our dealers by selling at a fair price,” says Lopatin. This means assuring that a proper profit margin is built into the price. “Selecting product that allows a good profit margin is paramount,” states Lopatin, quickly pointing out, “Additionally, the product must be unique, meaning that it is not sold at home centers. Dealers are not interested in competing with home centers. They want to project a fine-tuned, more precise image.”
To this end, Lopatin and his partners believe that the American Standard, Jado and Porcher brands fit the criteria. “American Standard and Porcher have a terrific new luxury collection line of high performance, water efficient toilets, such as the Porcher Veneto® collection, which incorporates the latest design trends and that aren’t available through home centers.”
Lopatin continues, “Jado collections like the Jean Nouvel Series, which offers the unique combination of distinct design and touch-sensitive faucet technology, and the future-leaning Epic bath collection from Porcher, are other examples that fill important niches in consumer markets. And because American Standard offers product lines that span a range of price points, there’s something for every budget.”
THEY GROW UP FAST
NEXT Plumbing Supply has grown at an extraordinarily rapid pace considering the first warehouse and showroom opened in Deerfield Beach, Florida just seven years ago. It has since added two more distribution warehouses with attached showrooms, extending its reach throughout Florida. The company’s growth is a result of strategic planning, detailed with great specificity in terms of manufacturer alliances and product line selection, according to Lopatin. “We attribute our fast growth and expansion directly to having the ability to wholesale to our dealers with the right product, at the right time, from the right manufacturers.”
Lopatin further attributes the growth to the fact that NEXT continues to build inventory as others are implementing inventory reductions. “Because we offer breadth of selection through manufacturers like American Standard, we are consistently able to expand our wholesale dealer customer base,” states Lopatin. “It has allowed us to reach beyond our south Florida base, north to West Palm Beach, and recently into central Florida with the 2009 opening of our Orlando location.”
Another catalyst in the growth process has been the use of Eclipse® database management systems software. The system allows dealers to access inventory and pricing information via the Internet by logging on through NEXT’s website and placing orders 24/7, without the restriction of showroom hours. The system is highly efficient and has resulted in significant sales increases, which have allowed the showrooms to grow exponentially, according to Lopatin.
We will spread the word for you
Like most operational processes at NEXT, showroom advertising and marketing is handled quite differently – it is simply not done in the traditional sense. “We promote the product lines of our manufacturers, rather than promote our own showrooms,” explains Lopatin. The logic behind this strategy revolves around a business model centered on distribution of product to other showrooms. “It’s okay if architects and designers see products in our showrooms and buy from other dealers,” Lopatin says, adding, “Therefore we let the dealers do their own advertising.” And NEXT sees a steady stream of traffic from architects and interior designers, who ultimately buy through their wholesale dealer customers.
Not all showrooms are in the position to benefit from the advertising of others. And certainly not all showrooms can count the competition among their customers. But for NEXT Plumbing Supply’s central and south Florida American Standard showrooms, the dividing line between customer and competition has all but disappeared. This has left the business in the enviable position of concentrating solely on sales and necessitating only one call to action as wholesale customers step up in line: NEXT!
Info for posting on ASB website:
NEXT Plumbing Supply
710 S. Powerline Road, Suite A
Deerfield Beach, FL 33442