Ever since industrial distributors began selling and importing products overseas, they’ve been battling the issue of lead times, which can run four to five months or longer. In an industry where time is money, that’s an awfully long wait considering that it’s now 2020.
One distributor and manufacturer is tackling that issue head-on — and in a pretty novel fashion. Rocky River, Ohio-based Earnest Machine – a global importer, master distributor and manufacturer of fasteners featured in Industrial Distribution’s 2019 Watch List — created a spinoff company called Zirks to reduce lead times on commoditized items without increasing costs.
The Zirks model is based on maximizing overseas shipping. Zirks makes full containers of commoditized fasteners available for instant purchase the moment they’re on the water. Through a transparent, customer-driven online portal, buyers control their own pricing and timing based on how much they buy and when they it, even if it’s a single pallet of product.
In a Nov. 21 press release, Earnest Machine and Zirks President and CEO Kirk Zehnder said, “Being a fastener importer for decades, we knew that little had changed. We wanted to make it better and thought an easy thing to do was simplify importing, aggregate the market demand, and reduce operational expenses and inefficiencies. It was a big question that forced us to get creative.”
According to the company, Zirks allows purchasing, supply chain and logistics managers to order and receive commodity fasteners from overseas in as little as five days, or at most, five weeks. It says that no longer are those fasteners subject to factory delays, unforeseen costs, or excess inventory. Zirks adds that buyers are empowered to increase gross margin up to 30% on imported commodities through full container purchasing power at single-pallet quantities.
“Zirks is fundamentally shifting the perception of lead time and inventory management while paving the way for convenience and agility," the company said. "Whether a distributor needs to fill a gap buy or simply wants to eliminate the paperwork and hassle of importing directly, Zirks is effectively leading the charge for faster, smarter importing.”
For Earnest Machine, a company that was founded in 1948 in an industry that tends to be old-school when it comes to innovation, Zirks is a very cutting-edge development in the industrial supply chain. We’ll certainly check in to see how it develops.