Today, Seegot Inc. is a $100-million, high-technology business that serves cover 5,000 customers coast to coast. Based in Streetsboro, Ohio, it has an established network of six regional centers, each responsible for certain geographical areas. This pattern of growth began in 1977 when the New Jersey center was opened, and continued in 1987 in Chicago, 1988 in Florida, 1995 in Texas, and in February 1997 with the acquisition of California-based The John K. Bice & Co., which enhanced the company’s West Coast presence. This was followed by the acquisition of the Synergistic Performance Corp (SPC) in February 1999, leading to a much stronger West Coast presence.
“Our philosophy was to grow each region individually,” Paul Seegott, founder and president of Seegott Inc. said. “Each regional manager is empowered to make decisions on a local level, and treat the business as if he owned it.”
The company began with handling containers for the paint industry. Today, it represents nearly 50 principal manufacturers, and products that fall into several categories, including resins, pigments and dyes; extenders and fillers; and additives, rubbers and plastics. It sells and services customers in industries such as paint, ink, adhesives and sealants, pigments and dyes, plastics, rubber, personal care, household chemicals, and specialty products.
The Secret of His SuccessThe secret of the company’s success is its relationship with principal manufacturers. “Our goal was simply to help them sell more product and to help them serve their customers better,” Seegott said. “Large, multinational chemical and raw-material manufacturers have expertise in producing their products. Working with a distributor offers better sales coverage and reduced internal costs.”
Also, the company’s regional centers make them one of a few specialty distribution firms to offer national coverage. “We can help them sell to smaller customers, or customers who are located in remote locations,” he said. The company also offers regional warehousing for just-in-time deliveries, and all the work associated with credit, billing and payments.
“The relationship we have with our principals is an open one,” he said. “Rather than shield the principals from their customers, we encourage them to visit with us on a quarterly basis. In addition, we share information with our principals, to the extent that each one knows where every pound of their product is. They receive copies of our call reports and summaries.”
Customer Service a Top PrioritySeegott has worked with The Glidden Co./ICI Paints for over 20 years, and has evolved with the times. “We have seen Seegott grow into a national resource, while they have maintained their ability to creatively service accounts,” said George Triana, purchasing manager for The Glidden Co.
One area in which Seegott needed to solve a problem creatively is the initiative it took in repackaging bulk chemicals and other raw materials into smaller shipments.
This program started with a request from a principal manufacturer who asked the distributor to handle sampling request for its organic pigments. The manufacturer wanted to streamline its operations and reduce costs without inconveniencing customers. Once Seegott worked out the sampling procedure, the company began considering repackaging some of the more expensive colorant products into smaller sizes.
“At first, we didn’t understand how vital this new service was,” said Adam Lumley, director of Operations, “until customers began flooding us with requests and offering to pay us extra for the smaller shipments.” In some cases, a standard container size would last some companies a lifetime, and would result in the need to dispose of the unused portion. “From both a sales perspective and from an environmental perspective,” he said, “this didn’t make sense to us.”
Repackaging involves a complex process of inventory control, labeling, resealing, and avoiding contamination and degradation of the unused product.
Looking to the FutureFuture expansion is expected to result primarily through acquisition, Seegott said. “The challenge is to find strong firms that do not represent competing product lines. We are looking to increase our sales to $200 million over the next several years.”
Seegott’s West Coast region has become a major part of the whole coast-to-coast regional network. The John K. Bice Co. acquisition in February 1997 was the start, followed in February 1999 by the acquisition of SPC, a chemical distributor that was formerly a division of Mini Fibers Inc. of Tennessee.
“It is probably the best acquisition we’ve made because of the similar and complementary product lines,” said Bob Sustar, Seegott chief operating officer.
Seegott approached Mini Fibers in early December last year, and the deal was finalized on Feb. 1, 1999. The acquisition is expected to add 20–30% in revenue to Seegott’s 1999 projected sales of $100 million.
In addition to similar product lines, SPC is a strategic fit for national coverage. “SPC has great coverage in northern California, Washington and Oregon, an area where we lacked coverage,” Sustar said.
The company also anticipates increased use of the Internet. “We’re already looking into how we can add more interactivity functions to our website. From a business perspective, we will also be looking for new services to help our customers overcome obstacles to their success.”
For more information, contact Seegott Inc., 10040 Aurora-Hudson Road, Streetsboro, OH; phone 800/321.2865; fax 330/528.0675; visit www.seegott.com.
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