I have been both a competitor and a supplier to Anixter, at times, over the last 20 years. Historically, the idea of selling direct to the end-user began in the early 80's, particularly with networking equipment and data cabling. It started because Anixter would invest a significant amount of time working with an end user and when an RFP came out, the cabling contractor would purchase the material from a distributor other than Anixter. Anixter then took steps to protect their investment in those types of opportunities. When Anixter decided to get into the Security market some vestiges of this thought process remained, but, in my experience, they avoid it if at all possible today.
First - let's stop dealing in absolutes. Anixter has hundreds of locations and hundreds of sales reps. Are there occassions where material is sold direct to an end user? Yes. Are there ethical and and unethical sales people in any organization this size? Yes. In fact the difference in personalities between branches that are a few hundred miles apart can be dramatic. Is it the general policy to avoid selling security products direct to end users? In my territory yes. In fact, they generally avoid it at all costs because of the fallout that occurs when they do. I believe Anixter is committed to selling through their Integrator Partners first and foremost, but they are at times confronted with difficult decisions. As with anyone, they are going to protect their investment, rather than merely walking away. Absolutes are convenient especially when casting stones.
Anixter is better than most distributors at actually educating the market about new products and emerging technologies. Generally they are doing this with the end-users and consultants to "create demand" for these products. If Anixter has been engaged with an end user over a lengthy sales cycle and a bid comes out for those products they have positioned with that end user - then they ceratinly want to participate in that opportunity. They have invested time and effort into the end user and the opportunity. Sometimes the integrator(s) who will be bidding the project don't like Anixter for a myriad of reasons including price, availability, shipping charges or lack of an available credit line and more. Sometimes the end user can purchase through a number of channels who have no investment in the opportunity so they can two-step the material and throw minimal margin on it and walk away. Any of these, can lead to a situation where Anixter is confronted with abandoning their considerable investment of time in an opportunity.
Donuts, Lunch, Dinner, Golf, Fishing, Hunting, Drinks, Trips etc... Where does one draw the line to what is acceptable and what is not? These types of entertainment are common. If they were illegal, Anixter wouldn't be engaged in them. I can assure you that if an Anixter sales person is found to have been engaged in illegal behavior, he/she will be terminated. What is acceptable is usually determined by the client. The code of conduct for any Municipal, State, Federal funded agency is more stringent than that for commercial businesses. I'm pretty sure 90% of the people denouncing Anixter have gotten a Ball Cap, T-Shirt, Pen or other SWAG or had lunch with a vendor/supplier at one time or another. In most cases, these are used as a Thank-you or an opportunity to build rapport with a customer more than an inducement to influence a sale. How many people try their best to get tickets to, and happily attend the Pelco party at ISC West? Is this event unethical?
Anixter is very good at what they do. Are they perfect? No! Are they the only game in town? No! Does everyone like them or want to do business with them? No! Does a top-down climate of unethical beahvior exist in Anixter? Absolutely not! Does Anixter prefer to write business direct with the end-user rather than work with inegrators? Absolutely not! Do scenarios develop where Anixter has to consider it as an option for the reasons stated above? Yes - but it is definitely not a standard - go-to-market strategy.
I think asking the question does Anixter sell direct is akin to asking the average person - are you a criminal? Most people have done somehing that violated the law at some point in their lives - and occassionally still do - traffic violations, throwing a piece of gum out the window etc... but while they broke the law that doesn't make them a criminal. So, yes situations do exist where Anixter feels compelled to sell direct - but that doesn't mean it is a standard or even desirable business practice that they regularly pursue.