Potter limits new fire line to select distributors

Independent manufacturer wants to keep price competitive
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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

ST. LOUIS—Potter Electric Signal, which released its own new fire products line earlier this year, recently announced that its growing line of analog addressable fire panels will be available only through select distributors.

"There’s just limited access to our fire line through a select number of distributors that Potter is going to partner with," Dave Kosciuk, executive VP of the Fire & Security Division for Potter, which is based here, told Security Systems News.

The select distributor partnerships, chosen to keep prices for the line more competitive, are still under development, he told SSN in late September, but are expected to number about 20 when they’re all in place by January 2012. Kosciuk said there will be one national distributor and other smaller independent distributors "strategically located throughout the United States," to allow for dealer access.

Also, he added,  "we’ll have at least two distributors in a location so there still will be alternative opportunities to shop product or at least have a competitive bid. We're not taking away from the dealer."

Potter introduced its new fire line in April at ISC West and Kosciuk says it stands out. "It's unique to the industry," he said. "We're the only independent manufacturer that provides a full line of fire alarm systems."

Now, he told SSN, the way Potter is reorganizing its distribution channels for its fire line represents “a paradigm shift for the market.”

He said it’s unusual for a company “to say they’re not giving everybody access, everybody [usually] wants more and more people to sell it. But strategically that's not a good move for us."

Instead, he said, it will be "a value-added proposition for the distributor to be able to carry the Potter line, and in turn Potter keeps it distribution limited to create a better value proposition for our product line."

Currently, Potter works with about 90 distributors, Kosciuk said, and he stressed that the company is making no changes in the distribution of its sprinkler and security products with those dealers. But Potter will partner only with key distributors for its fire line. "You want to reward the distributors who are really stepping up the plate and supporting the launch of our product offering," Kosciuk said.

In a press release, the company said the change is not only to keep prices competitive and prevent "market inundation," but also is a way of becoming "more customer-centered" and focused "on Potter's established industry relationships that they have built throughout the years."