On Jan. 1, 2021 Tanvir Osman will officially assumed the position as president and CEO of 1120 Distributing. In today’s Executive Interview, Osman brings us up to speed on his new plans for 1120 and gives us his thoughts on the state of the automotive industry and the distribution business today.
What’s your background and how did it lead you to 1120 Distributing?
Well, I’m an immigrant from Bangladesh. I came to the U.S. almost 12 years ago now and I got my undergraduate in economics and then I got a master’s degree in Economics. My first job after college was in Retail and I’ve been involved with that Industry in some capacity ever since. I’m a car and bike enthusiast and that led me into the US Retail & Distribution Industry. I am the founder of companies like OneBike Avenue and SportnOutdoor and my experience over there is what I believe that really prepared for what I’m doing at 1120 Distributing now.
What were some of the most challenging obstacles to overcome in the establishment phase 1120 Distributing?
Well, you know that’s a really good question. I started off at 1120 in Business Development, at least that was the title. That role had me put heavy focus on vendors and our relationship with them. These relationships can be challenging sometimes, especially in the beginning. You know, you have to maintain a relationship in order to have a successful one and as you know, maintaining can be difficult sometimes. We are a 2-step distribution business of course, and that has a lot of challenges all on its own. You have to make sure that your vendors are on board with who your dealers are cause they’re ultimately responsible for getting their product out there on the market and into the end user’s hands. And in this day and age, you have your battle between balancing brick and mortar business with e-commerce dealers.
Amazon and eBay are huge these days and with growing e-commerce market, it presents a lot of problems so you know, that can be rather tricky. There’s a lot of steps you have to conquer to be successful in the 2 step Warehouse Distribution business these days – things like the acquisition of brands and the promotion of those brands, avoiding sitting on inventory too long, and staying up to date with technology. We dabble in a lot of different markets too, not just Automotive. And we’ve tried to do that since the beginning. That is a really big challenge just by itself, but I feel like at this point we have overcome the hardest parts of all that.
What type of products and services do you provide your clients?
Well one thing we pride ourselves on is the way we’ve been able to successfully carry so many different products from so many different categories. That gives our Dealers a lot of options and I think that’s been integral to our success – you have to do something different and better than others to make it in this industry and there’s a lot of competition. You have to really have a lot of stocking ability and to do that well it takes some insight and sometimes experience comes in handy. We really take service to our dealers very seriously for example and try to offer them as much backup and assistance we can cause in order for us to be successful, they have to be successful too.
They go hand in hand. You can’t have success if no one around you is having any success. That’s just one of those things you have to understand. So we really see everyone around us and know that if the Vendors we work with aren’t doing well – we won’t do well either. Quality is something that has always been very important to myself and to this company. We carry products from all over the world in order to keep a certain level of quality behind our products – you know from wherever we have to get them.
We do a lot of business internationally as well as the U.S. You have to keep your options open if you want to be concerned with quality product and not just quantity of product. Our sales guys, they are the backbone in a way because they’re responsible for getting out there and getting this product on the shelves and it’s a lot easier on them when they know they’re carrying good quality products that people are going to like and enjoy. It makes their job that much easier and gives them the confidence to have even more success than they normally would. And also, I would like to bring up cross-marketing here.
That’s something we’ve always referenced as a key to success and something we pride ourselves in as far as what we provide. Everything happens ‘in house’ around here. We don’t outsource much. If it’s needed, we have someone for it that we’ve already hired that specializes in what needs to be done. We won’t be asking for help from any other companies in order to do business with them and that’s something that can be said for everyone in this industry.
In your view, what makes your products superior to your competitors?
Well, the choosing of brands and products is an area we take very seriously. There’s a lot of factors we analyze and a lot of criteria that has to be met in order for us to start carrying. We don’t do business with everyone that wants to business with us and I think that’s been an integral part of our success as well. People know they’re going to get something successful from us when they buy from us. We not only take our dealer selection very seriously but also our product selection as well.
How have you managed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic? How have you changed the delivery of your services/products?
We’ve managed quite well actually. I mean at least given the circumstances of course, you know, with the supply issues the pandemic’s caused. We didn’t furlough any of the employees and I know a lot of companies did including some of our Direct competitors. I think that’s really helped us. I have to give a lot of credit to our procurement as well because they were very smart throughout this whole thing and they continue to give us really smart projections about everything. They’ve done as good a job as you could expect from anyone – that’s for sure. We do a lot of pre-emptive purchasing. To be honest we didn’t have as many issues with supply at first from companies, but re-ordering was a different story. That area really had a negative impact to be honest. But it’s an odd time. There were a lot of businesses that did a lot better than usual. And some that did the opposite of course but the ones that did better really made up for the ones that didn’t for the most part. We deal with companies all over the world though which proved difficult during the pandemic, but it also gives us options. So, there’s pros and cons to everything of course, but overall our sales are up during this unfortunate time of COVID-19. There’s been a spike in supply and a spike in demand both. But one thing you have to keep in mind, and I’ve made everyone very aware of this fact, is that all this during this time period is really flawed data. You can’t project anything based off it because it’s such an abnormal set of circumstances and hopefully it’s not ever duplicated in the future cause I know it has been.
What kind of feedback have you gotten from your clients?
Well feedback is a big part of 1120 Distributing and it’s also something we pay a lot of attention to. I think our attention to feedback is a big part of our success as a company. We’re a service a company at the end of the day – not just a product company. We’re a relatively young company with 7 years behind us now but we’ve always asked for feedback from everyone, especially our dealers. We send out surveys quarterly every year and always have. We get a lot of insight from these surveys and that’s really all surveys are – feedback, right? It gives dealers the opportunity to suggest brands or products and that helps keep us on the cutting edge and knowing what’s out there. It helps keep our options open and relevant. But ultimately it helps us keep them happy and it helps keep whatever vendor will be involved happy too. When we get negative feedback, we look at it even harder than the good probably. We try to sort it out as well, not just receive it, cause otherwise what’s the point? I think this has been largely responsible for the exponential growth we’ve had and hopefully will continue to have in the future.
What’s next for 1120 Distributing?
Well of course I’m taking a promotion to CEO of the company Jan 1 in couple weeks or so. With the new year coming, it reminds me there’s going to be new challenges though. There always is really, every year. I would like to expand in terms of categories though. It’s always been a goal of mine and the companies. It’s always on our mind. This year I really want to see us focus on the Industrial side of things. We’ve dabbled in quite a bit so far, but I really would like to see us get a strong foot planted in the market. We’ve got over 200 vendors at this point and I’d like to see that number continuing to grow, at the same rate as it has in the past, if not faster. We’ve got about 4200 plus dealers now across the country. We get products internationally, but our dealers are all located within the US. But I’d like to see that number grow too of course. I don’t want to abandon anyone though – I want to maintain the company’s current relationships and make sure they’re healthy. We need to keep our operating costs low. That way we can keep our dealers’ prices low to as well.
We always like to pass on savings so to speak. We accomplish through maximizing our resources. We’re a teamwork-oriented company at 1120 and I want to continue to use our teamwork mindset. We really stress the important of relationships at the company and that goes along with teamwork and I think this mindset has been responsible for our success too. One of the challenges with growing is your challenges grow as well.
There will be unforeseen circumstances coming up you can always count on that. You can’t just hire people to solve all your problems either. But overall, I see us expanding our horizons but maintaining strong current relationships at the same time.
This is one of our core values and I want to stay true to those values, such as hard work and dedication. I want to stay true to our core mission as well and I understand what that is for this company as a founder of it.