AgoNow CEO Larry Davis

In this interview, CEO Larry Davis answers frequently asked questions about AgoNow and its mission in the industrial market.

Why did you start AgoNow?

There are a couple of ways to answer that. One is we’re creating this business to do something special – something that makes a difference in the market. It’s something that we’ve always wanted to do. More practically, we’re meeting a need in the market and we’re fulfilling commitments that we made to distributor customers and supplier partners to give them a partner that they could trust and depend on.

How does AgoNow fit in today’s market?

We fit because we’re an enabler. We’re not a traditional master wholesaler nor are we an absolute service provider. We’re a hybrid in that we play the role of enabling distributors to do things they couldn’t do on their own and enabling manufacturers to access markets and customers they could never access on their own. We connect dots in the marketplace.

How is AgoNow different?

There are fundamental ways that we are different than everyone else and that begins with how we are owned and how we chose to go to market. We will operate in a way that we believe has integrity and that means we’re not going to re-visit every month whether we should compete with our customers. We’re making that decision upfront and committing to it. Everybody else is keeping that option open, but we’re committed to it, and we’re very clear on that. That’s probably the biggest differential.

How does your decision to be a “pure” wholesaler and commit to it with a non-disclosure, non-compete, non-solicitation agreement make you a better partner in the channel?

Throughout my entire tenure in the industrial market people have brought this up repeatedly: “We never know if you’re really for us.” People could view us as a competitor just as much as they could a partner. We have engaged in months of voice-of-the-customer research and the feedback was clear. If we want to be a partner and move fast, then take away any doubt. There’s nobody else that I know of that can do that today or has been willing to do that.

I think it is a difference-maker. One of my favorite legal terms is “res ipsa loquitur,” which means “the thing speaks for itself.” That to me is an action that speaks volumes about what our intentions are. It creates alignment, as well. It immediately creates perfect alignment between the supplier, us and the distributor.

Why is it important to you that AgoNow is independent and owned by its leadership team?

We need to be in the position to make decisions that are right in a broader context rather than just a company making its next quarter. So, to build something special, to build something sustainable, to build something that’s truly different in the market and can create value in different ways, that takes a longer-term view and a commitment to follow through and not be willing to leave yourself an out to do something different.

We made a conscious decision to take what could be viewed as a riskier route doing a startup – but in doing so hopefully delivering a business model that is derived based on what the customers and suppliers have told us they needed.

A word that’s thrown around a lot in this industry is “partnership.” What’s the word “partnership” mean to you?

Commitment and capacity. You have to have the commitment to be a partner and that means that you’re going to be trustworthy, you’re going to do the things that you said you were going to do, and people can expect you to behave that way and never feel like there’s another agenda. So, you’re committed to being that partner and people see clear evidence of that.

The second piece is you have to have the capacity to be a partner. If you can’t do your job effectively and you negatively impact somebody else’s business, that’s certainly not a partnership. You have to have the capacity to align with your partners and be willing to measure those things and move forward. For me, partnership means that you earn the trust to operate in that mode and then can follow through and bring those capacities to bear so it ultimately delivers results.

Talk about your team’s experience. How that will contribute to the success of the manufacturers and distributors you work with?

We have over a hundred years of experience in the industrial market, obviously, a lot on the master distribution side but also President of Sales John Allenbach’s 30-plus years on the manufacturing side. This experience gives us a native feel to the ground we’re covering. But everybody is always checking in with the manufacturers or the distributors or each other. The level of collaboration is extremely high because nobody wants to get off-track. We’re using our partners as our waypoint to make sure that we’re staying on a good course to meet needs that aren’t being met.

We have tremendous respect for the complexity of the market and the nuances; nobody takes anything for granted and even though we think we know exactly where we’re at, we still have the conversation to confirm that. I’ll call it a creative tension between that experience and the curiosity of how the market is moving.