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Jobber Dilemma: Steven Hagen of PDF Systems Outlines a Solution for Today's Jobbers

October 2, 2020


Steve Hagen of PDF Systems
Steve Hagen of PDF Systems

In our latest Five Favorite Friday newsletter, F&FI Editor Eric Schneider spoke about a jobber’s frustration who speculated his role could soon be unnecessary. [Read FFF at https://conta.cc/2RGXcJA ]

“The mill is going direct to my customer, bypassing me, or the mill rep is going directly with one of his other lines,” he told Schneider. “Where does that leave the jobber? It leaves us nowhere.”

In response, Steven Hagen, a principal at PDF Systems, sent an email offering a possible solution.

“Think about the benefits of 50 - 100 textile companies banding together under a single distribution-customer-service entity,” Hagen wrote. “The website alone would have more product and visibility than the largest textile companies.

“There is a need for a warehouse and distribution service that caters to small- to medium-size textile companies (foreign and domestic).”

He says the cost of entering the U.S. market is prohibitive for many non-domestic lines.

“Expenses such as office space, staff, computers, accounting, legal, sampling warehousing, etc. are too big of a hurdle for many companies,” he writes. “Many domestic designers who have started textile lines, do not want to manage an office, warehouse, etc. They just want to design beautiful products and leave day-to-day operations to somebody else.

“A jobber who understands the industry, has a staff, and a warehouse would do well managing distribution for numerous high-end textile lines.”

Hagen adds the model would be a low-cost, high-volume service. The cost to the line would include a smorgasbord of options:

1) Input reserves, orders, and provide customer service;

2) send CFAs;

3) ship sales orders;

4) collect payments;

5) produce commission reports to reps;

6) provide a national sales manager that reps numerous lines;

7) sampling;

8) warehouse inventory;

9) create an interactive website across all lines (very important).

“One of the keys to making this a successful operation is having easy-to-use and robust-industry-specific software to handle all of the lines on a single platform,” Hagen adds. “This is critical for keeping staff to a minimum.

“Another key is the company providing the service does not compete with the lines that subscribe to the service.”

He concludes: “I see no reason why such a service could eventually handle 50 - 100 lines; if you build it, they will come.”


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