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Tom's Top 7 Reasons for Starting a Distribution Company

Why a musical instrument distribution company Tom?

This is a good question and one that I have fielded a number of times this year. Please enjoy my top 7 reasons for starting The Wedge.

  1. Wonderful partners

  2. There is a need

  3. Leverage existing assets and skills

  4. Power in cooperation

  5. Many growth avenues

  6. Recurring, channel-driven revenue

  7. I love building businesses!

Reason 1 – Wonderful partners

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, wrote about finding the right people. He said, “In fact, leaders of companies that go from good to great start not with “where” but with “who.” They start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats”.

Whether it’s a 2 seat or 500 seat bus, Jim’s conclusion from analyzing 1435 "Good" companies resonates with me. And it is not just about finding great people. Everyone is different. Synergy gets tested. People change. Businesses evolve. Crises strike. My personal luggage is stored in the same body as my aspirations, spirit and skill sets. All of which I hope improve with time. There is a rewarding art to building shared momentum with the “who”.

I had a great experience at the wonderful, non-profit organization, Excellence Northwest (pic above). Not only did I find the courses highly valuable, but everyone who took courses and wanted to support the organization shared a common set of skills based around compassionate communication, effectiveness, excellence and building a life they love.

As a 100% volunteer organization, those who wanted on the bus were always a great fit. All support in all forms was (and still is) appreciated, making it easier. But, even more so, everyone shared similar skills sets and a vision first. It is important to define the skill sets and common vision desired for all travelers on an organization's bus. A very cool fact about Excellence Northwest is that Theo Wanne Instruments was started by my brother and I during a week long, graduate course back in 2004. It was an intensive retreat near Leavenworth, WA.


The bus analogy works well with sports teams. The importance of finding the right seat is huge. A player's skills and experience will lend them to particular positions within the greater team system of play Of course, the primary focus as a youth coach is player development. But, no matter how great a player is, their team can fail if they don't fit.

I have worked with some amazing people in my life through a roller coaster of environments. I feel very blessed to now be on the same bus with Harry, Nadir, Theo, Lars, Dannie, Kent as well as many amazing artists. I greatly appreciate their friendships, partnerships and inspiration. Excited to be on all their buses.

Reason 2 - There is a need

A need exists. Distributors are in the business of taking orders, usually focusing on scaling through product expansion and channel growth. A manufacturer's brand can take years to develop. Distributors often have too many brands, too little resources, or a lack of interest to implement strategic plans for each product line in their distribution scope. Paid advertising usually exists and a focus shifts to the largests clients. Smaller manufacturers can get ignored as just another listing in a giant catalog.

Some distributors are disengaged with our socially-driven information age. And some, if they are marketing beyond a catalog, are focused on their top clients (understandably).

This is not a wrong business model. It works great for many fantastic companies and their customers. But, it does create a need for some companies desiring a distributor partnered in their brand and business growth. The Wedge is also dedicated to new technology, keeping up with an ever changing, digitally-driven marketing world. This makes the Wedge different.

Reason 3 - Leverage existing assets and skills.

A distribution company allows us to leverage existing relationships, channels, and networks in synergy with our current business consulting work which spans global marketing, operations, sales, product development, strategic partnerships and more. We plan, create and market fresh content across social media and developed networks of dealers, distributors, endorsers, musicians and press worldwide. Strategic partnerships have created products like Fiberrod and TANTRA mouthpieces as well as produced highly successful, co-branded events.

Reason 4 - Power in cooperation

The Wedge is focused on a select number of premium brands with renowned craftsmen / entrepreneurs driven to create innovative and premium products. There can be great value and strategic opportunities in a like-minded band of brothers (sisters).

Although some products overlap, there is more opportunity from co-operation, cross-promotion and strategic partnerships. Everyone shares a passion for serving the music world by delivering innovative products. A shared mission moves mountains and, as the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats. Plus, it’s just more fun to work together.

Reason 5 - Many growth avenues

There are a number of ways to grow a distribution company. The Wedge will first focus on reseller network growth and brand development. This will always be important.

As all business systems become fluid and effective, new premium, innovative, and synergistic musical instrument brands can be added. The natural expansion looks to fill in woodwind, guitar, brass and strings. Pro audio is also logical.

To further scale, The Wedge can repeat the distribution model with different industries. An effective distribution company can be the backbone to a large and diverse network of businesses.

On that futuristic note, a business plan with a long term vision is incredibly important. I won't achieve my goals if I don't know what they are.

Reason 6 – Recurring, channel-driven revenue

Recurring revenue can be a blessing. The software industry’s shift to subscriptions instead of single purchases illustrates the importance. One large benefit (of many) is reliable cash flow.

Businesses fail all the time, unfortunately. Often, it comes down to the bottom line. Did they understand and control their costs and cash flow? Did they cover their costs even when sales were down?

A recurring, and hopefully growing, revenue stream can greatly help sustainability and peace of mind. Scrambling to generate transactions that may or not generate timely cash flow can be maddening. Recurring revenue is an excellent, possible solution if a path exists. I lived this first hand in the financial industry and continue to see the trend spread through other industries.

Although a distributor is ultimately taking lots of transactions, the greater network of resellers in the distributor's channel can become recurring revenue. Longer term reseller contracts are not uncommon, adding predictability.

Reason 7 - I love building businesses

I love building businesses; the ultimate puzzle of strategic assessment and adjustment to a constantly changing, technology and relationship driven, competitive environment. Running a business can be all encompassing, truly stretching personal and business resources. Support and planning can mean the difference. If you enjoyed this, you might like: Once a Physicist by Tom Wanne - 2010

Learn more about Building Businesses: Goals. Analyze. Prioritize. Plan. Execute.

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