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Distribution Management Inc.

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Founded in 1972 as a typewriter and typewriter ribbon distributor, Distribution Management is leveraging the proprietary fulfillment system it developed for its Supplies Network wholesale distribution division and sharing it, through its newer division DM Fulfillment, as a third-party logistics provider with mid-sized companies that have big-company fulfillment needs.

“We built significant technology for distribution centers around the country, became very automated and developed a strong core competency of small package distribution with a product line that advanced well beyond typewriter ribbons to more than 8,000 computer supplies and accessories’ SKUs,” recalls CEO Sean Fleming, nephew of founder and chairman Tom Fleming. “That ended up creating what we saw as a very powerful infrastructure for a national small-package distribution footprint that became the launching pad for DM Fulfillment, a new venture which we founded about four years ago.”

In 2012, the company began a rebranding effort for its fulfillment business. The end-result, which is being implemented this year, is to put the name of Distribution Management – which previously had been a holding company – front and center.

“As time goes by, the DM will become part of our core branding and will appear in front of company names, as it does currently with DM Fulfillment,” President Greg Welchans explains. “It will then appear in front of Supplies Network, so it will become DM Supplies Network. As we branch into other wholesale business or other businesses, it will stay part of our branding, as we either start new businesses or acquire businesses in different categories.”

Multichannel Distribution

Having the infrastructure to deliver merchandise to a variety of destination types is a specialty of Distribution Management. “We have real strength in our system, which can look at inventory everywhere and determine the best way to fulfill a customer order, whether direct to a home as a consumer order or to a business, as a wholesale order to a retail store or a distribution order to a distribution center, which further subdivides that order,” Managing Director of DM Fulfillment Bob Klunk points out. “That is a lot of different challenges. We need to be very strong with infrastructure to manage complex retail requests in this day and age.”

Distribution Management says it can reach 99 percent of the United States within two days from its four distribution centers in Dallas, St. Louis, Fresno, Calif., and Carlisle, Pa., with an order accuracy rate of 99.9 percent. It uses radio frequency technology and scans products at the point of fulfillment to enable real-time reporting on inventory, shipping and tracking. One of its suppliers is Rebstock Conveyors Inc.

“Over the past decade-and-a-half as our strategy and business have grown, we’ve partnered with Rebstock Conveyor to install seven complete material-handling systems and multiple design enhancements,” says Rick Goe, Distribution Management vice president of supply chain management. “Bringing to the table their experience, professionalism and attention to detail has given us the ability to accurately budget our projects and define timelines for which we were able to successfully manage the transition. Very shortly thereafter, we enjoyed the efficiencies gained from the installation of their systems.”

Distribution Management has an in-house IT development staff and uses its own proprietary software system that it started developing in the late 1990s and began using in 2001. “Since then, it’s been improved upon, and it’s current technology,” Welchans says.

Consumer Goods

DM Fulfillment’s strength is in distributing consumer packaged goods in a variety of sizes, from a hearing aid battery to a 12-piece cookware set. Distribution Management uses third-party logistics providers for its shipping needs. 

For the future, Fleming sees greater emphasis on “thoughtful and strategic acquisitions,” capitalizing on the growth of e-commerce and expansion of third-party fulfillment in Texas to utilize the Dallas distribution center more fully. “Finding revenue because of our capabilities is not the hard part,” he concludes. “Keeping technology and the distribution demands aligned always remains a challenge, but we always meet that challenge, and up to this point have not dropped the ball for any customer.”

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