Late last year, Camco launched its Platinum Dealer Program, a dealer-direct initiative allowing Camco dealers that meet specific criteria to receive products directly from the manufacturer.
The program, now in its fifth month, has seen some success, according to Camco President Keith Cook.
“We’re pleased with the response; we feel like we know this market very well,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of experience in this business, and we feel confident that we’re doing the right thing.”
The company initiated the program on Oct. 1, to stay competitive with its steel-made towing products, according to Cook. Camco has since surpassed its original goal of 250 dealers, though Cook declined to give a specific number during an interview at Camco’s Jan. 19-20 dealer event in New Orleans.
The program offers dealers who can provide significant-sized orders to Camco, dealer-direct access to the company’s product lineup, which includes antifreezes, cleaners and other towing and marine accessories in addition to towing and hitch products.
“Give us a meaningful part of your towing business, and then you can buy the rest of the line, and some of those items are going to be of really good savings,” Cook said.
The remainder of the company’s business is conducted through the traditional two-step distribution model.
Cook noted that a dealer-direct model is not new to the towing and hitches category, and that the decision to implement the protocol made sense competitively.
“These guys (dealer-direct hitch and towing makers) were starting to make some inroads into dealers because of pricing, and we felt like we were losing market share when there wasn’t really anything that we were doing wrong – it’s just that these guys were direct and we weren’t,” he said.
But the Platinum Program is not designed to bypass a two-step model, according to Cook.
“With a distributor, where they really earn their money is one of these, four of these, one of these, and I need it all tomorrow,” he said. “We can’t do that; I’m not going to pretend to do that, so there’s no arrogance about we can do your job better than you can.”
Thus far, during distributor events, Cook said the company has met or surpassed its sales from the previous year.
“We’re not seeing orders for 24 hitch pins (for the Platinum Program),” he said. “Dealers are doing what they should be doing, which is (asking) ‘Where can I save the money on my highest selling items?’ That’s what they’re focusing on, and the other stuff in our line they’re planning to buy through two-step distribution.”