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Welcome to the STIHL USA Blog

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Distribution Trap: How Innovations Become Commodities

Back in January STIHL Inc welcomed Dr. Andrew R. Thomas, author of “The Distribution Trap: Keeping Your Innovations from Becoming Commodities,” to our Virginia Beach headquarters. Thomas took part in a documented discussion with STIHL Inc. President Fred J. Whyte on the recent release of the book, which features a chapter examining STIHL’s unique dealer-only distribution strategy.

Nearly 50 STIHL managers and other distinguished guests from the local community were present to welcome Thomas and listen to his discussion with Whyte on why STIHL chooses not to sell to big-box stores such as The Home Depot® or Lowe’s®. Both men agreed that manufacturers who choose to sell to so-called “megas” often face weakened product control that can hinder quality and innovation

“The story of STIHL is a story of invention, creativity, and quality coupled with service, loyalty, and vision,” said Thomas in his book. “It is the last of these, a remarkable clarity of vision, that has kept the firm out of the distribution trap.” He also made a point to mention that he has received no funding from STIHL for his work. 

Andrew R. Thomas is an assistant professor of Marketing and International Business at the University of Akron. He is a New York Times bestselling business writer and a successful global entrepreneur who has conducted business in more than 120 countries on all seven continents. He is a regularly featured analyst for CNBC, FOX and BBC, and has also been featured in the Wall Street Journal and MIT Sloan Management Review.  
Dr. Thomas co-authored the book with Timothy J. Wilkinson, PhD, Associate Professor of Marketing at Montana State University Billings. You can buy the book from Amazon and visit his site at http://www.distributiontrap.com/.

You can view videos of the interview on Youtube at the following locations: