Does Anixter Sell Direct To End Users? YES

Anixter is clueless at marketing and video surveillance (see: Debunking Anixter's IP Video Advantages and Anixter, Citing Axis, Sets Industry Back Years.)

But when faced with a staged Q&A from a trade magazine, you would think they would be better able to handle questions.


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Members overwhelmingly agree that Anixter repeatedly sells surveillance equipment direct to end users. There are key questions that remain about the practice, including:

  • How often do they do so? Obviously they do not sell to every end user but it is not clear which end users they sell direct to.
  • What type of pricing / discounts do they offer? Some offer experiences of high Anixter pricing, others offer lower than dealer pricing.
  • How does it vary over time and by office? Members note that Anixter's approach may fluctuate.
  • What drives them to sell direct? Some maintain that Anixter only does this on rare occasions when they need to ensure they win a deal. Others, including end users, say they buy direct regularly.
  • What manufacturers are being sold direct by Anixter? When Anixter sells large volumes of products direct, manufacturers have to find out. Are these manufacturers complicit or do some manufacturers block Anixter from doing so?

Almost all agree that Anixter should, at least, be clear about what they do, so their suppliers and their customers can make informed decisions about doing business with them.

He's the VP of marketing too. I just can't understand such rookie blunders.

Nice call on the "Rookie" Blunder, or did you know...

Matt Powers' Experience

Vice President - Global Technology Marketing
Public Company; 5001-10,000 employees; AXE; Logistics and Supply Chain industry
January 2014 – Present (2 months)

Cop: "Do you know why I pulled you over?"

Anixter VP of Marketing: "Increasingly, it is the role of law enforcement from various jurisdictions to ensure the utmost public safety policies are fairly and precisely enforced. Following the prime guidance of the USDOJ, you find yourself on the 'front lines' of an exhausting, but utterly thrilling endeavor to enforce speed limits on Interstate Highways."

You're my hero...

We do a lot of cabling materials business with Anxiter and overall they are one of our best suppliers in terms of responsiveness. They (the inside and outside that we have) really are a solid team. I've tried to buy security components from them and I can get some things from them but not most things I want. They have been sticking to their guns by not selling "software & electronic" thing to us (end-user). No Axis cameras, no software/lics, for example. I can get some things like electric strikes and such. Maybe it varies across Anxiter offices becuase they seem to be prudently protecting their integrator relationships. (whether I like it or not). The rationale that I've received was not even what I would expect it was instead a bit crazy.

Good feedback. Can you expand on what their rationale to you was? You are saying it was a bit crazy?

Sure. I would have expected to hear something along the lines of living up to their committment to the integrators and/or channel partner agreements. Instead I got a line about how Anixter used to sell to end users but also started getting involved in designs and such for clients which eventually ran them into some liability issues. In other words,Here you go end users, here's the stuff, here's a design, go install it. After some of them went awry, I'm sure an end user blamed them, and said it was their fault. So instead of just not doing designs (they never should have done anything like that IMO) they stopped it all. Maybe it's true, maybe it's not. I don't know. It would not be the first time I've seen Anxiter (or at least our Anixter office) implement sweeping mandates instead of just fixing a root issue. Another example, no more picking up lunch tabs (maybe just gov or higher eds, I don't recall) because supposedly someone got in trouble over a waverunner "gift" that possibly broke the law. I'm not going to lose sleep over the lunch thing but if there's any truth to that I don't believe you fix problems like that. Fix the root issue.

Or it could all just be B.S becuase they want to fluff around what they really want to say... "We want to protect the integrators and we don't really like eating lunch with you."

Very interesting, great feedback, thanks!

I was an Anixter customer for 5 years, competed against them for another 7, and have been privvy to their industry exploits for the last 3. If there's one thing Anixter (and Graybar too for that matter) does, it's selling directly to the end user community- and I'll tell you why. They can't always count on their relationship with the integrator, and they don't trust their integrators to give them the business. Additionally, the 13%-15% or so margin they make off their integrator pales in comparison to the 20%-25% they'll make off the end user. As for the non-denial denial, it's a completely different team. So when you ask them if they're selling directly to your customers they can tell you "they" are not, but that doesn't mean the guy on the other side of the cubicle is'nt.

Can the size of the customer be a consideration in this matter?

We still get quite a few things from Anixter. It used to be anything and everything, but their prices for alarm equipment and CCTV are way too high. Now we really only buy wire from them.

As an end user, have they ever told you 'We aren't going to sell you that' when price was not an issue?


I'll tell you this, as an integrator, you have to keep them close even though you don't trust them. They do a great job of demand generation. I heard a very large firm decided to stop partnering with them all together and it didn't last. They are too large of a machine to just ignore. Call it coopetition!

The consensus of a lot of manufacturers I have talked to is that they do not do a great job of demand generation, that they do not do much promotion or advocacy for manufacturers. Indeed, the typical comment is that they do very little except for fulfilling orders. That is, of course, not unique to Anixter as a distributor.

I am sure there are some exceptions, some manufacturers or products that Anixter pushes hard but this is the first and only time I have heard anyone say Anixter does a great job of demand generation.

Maybe demand generation is not the right words...let's go with muddying the water. They have, and continue, to get me into accounts that I have not been involved in. That being said, each office is different. If they are I. Front of the end users they obviously are promoting the manufcturers they sell which causes me issues when I am in the account with a deLer direct product. I also work with several former Anixter outside reps so I have a better view into the operation than most. I tried to limit my use of them several years ago and now I find myself in front with them again. It's complicated and it is like dating two women at the same time.

Also, I do receive direct forwards of emails from end users that have asked to purchase product and Anixter asks me to quote through my company. I also feel this is part of having arl relationship and mutual respect. If they are going to get my flow business (orders they are not involved in)then they had better not be selling direct in my accounts.

I am an end-consumer and Anixter has often asked me if I wanted to buy directly from them - so they play both sides of the sales model. They are a distributor (in a loose sense of that word) and a direct entrant to end-consumers. I personally think its a little reprehensible that integrators have to worry that their distributor may very well be going behind their backs and trying to drum up individual sales directly. Thankfully, many manufacturers won't allow this kind of ethical lapse.

"I personally think its a little reprehensible that integrators have to worry that their distributor may very well be going behind their backs and trying to drum up individual sales directly."

At least if they were open about it, it would be easier for integrators to understand and react accordingly. Like in the comment from that interview, Anixter appears to want to have it both ways - get trust from integrators by creating the appearance that they do not sell direct while getting deals / revenue by selling direct.

Now that you mention it John, I think its worth mentioning a couple of distributors that integrators will absolutely NEVER have to worry about doing the end run directly to their customers- namely ScanSource and PSA. End-user isn't even in their vocubulary.

Thanks, James.

For others to note, PSA is a cooperative of integrators, so by definition, they would not sell to end users :)

I know ScanSource has been very unambiguous that they do not sell direct to end users, even using it in marketing campaigns.

Note to self "Try to buy things through ScanSource"......

Anixter settled with the US Department of Justice last year for allegations of bribing the CIA. Interestingly, an ex-Anixter sales rep was the one who informed the government.

A news report notes:

"The [CIA] employees who gave in to temptation enjoyed trips to Mexico and Myrtle Beach, S.C., fishing excursions, outings to football and baseball games, deer hunting and golf, courtesy of the eager companies.

The Hooters restaurant chain, renowned for comely servers as well as beer and cheeseburgers, was a favorite destination of the CIA project manager in charge of the programs at issue."

CIA is an end user but this is obviously a lot worse than selling direct.

I have heard many such stories among Anixter activities with security end users and consultants...

I'm quttin my day job and becoming a whistleblower!

The case was initiated by a lawsuit filed in the Eastern District under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act by former Anixter sales representative William Jones, MacBride’s office said. Under the False Claims Act, private citizens may sue on behalf of the United States for false claims and share in any recovery, meaning that Jones will receive $585,000.

I never heard of that law, but it'l make people turn traitor in a heartbeat, for sure.

Speaking out on wrong doing that is egregious and harms the public good is not really traiterous or "narc'ing".

I've been in the industry for over 25 years and every few years a new group of sales people including local, regional and national sales managers from Anixter will come on board and go into the territory on meet & greets to integators. In every case, I've been told "yes, we used to sell direct but now we don't, there's a clear inititive from the top to support the channel, blah, blah, blah" and then within days or a few weeks I'll talk to an end user who just bought direct from them and therefore didn't need my services (clearly I'm an integrator). Thier MO of talking out of both sides of the mouth has been in place for well over 25 yrs and I don't think its going to change. I say don't trust them any further than you can throw them. Keep your customer information out of thier hands, they'll do an end around if they can. Personally, I can't think of ANY reason I would use them because I don't do business with unethical companies and I think this behavior comes from the top down and is unethical.

I just wanted to echo the lack of ethics Anixter has shown over the last 25 years. A company I worked for got cut out of a 1M deal to the US government that we took to Anixter. Of course, you could call it karma. If anyone had (has) worse morals than Anixter it was the VP of Sales.

And here's an August 2013 excuted contract where Anixter agrees to sell surveillance, security and monitoring products to the State of Texas.

I am certainly not trying to defend them, but I know in my State they have a State Contract that basically sets the highest price they can sell to the state. Then, Integrators get listed on the contact to act on behalf of Anixter as an agent. This allows the State to procure products without going out to bid, so long as it is a product on the negotiated contract. It is a procurement method the state uses for many different vendors and products.

For many years Anixter has told me that they do not ever sell to the end user. Recently, one of my long-term clients called me and told me that the Anixter rep called him directly to solicit business. When we confronted the Anixter office manager with it, at first they denied it, and then tried to play it off. They definitely sell to end users and they will deny it to your face. You can certainly not trust them to stay away from your clients.

I actually had an end user provide me a quote from Anixter once when I asked him if he had a bill of materials I could work from. Hmmm.

Does Anixter sell to the end-user? That would be a big yes.

Did they attempt to go into design as well as selling direct? That would be a yes as well.

Did they get into hot water with quite a few end-users? Yes again.

I was brought in on quite a few projects for anixter as damage control after a project went south. The MO was get us out of hot water, play by our rules and you can have the account.

One of the rules was we could only sell the products for a 2.5% mark-up to the end-user, sounds good? kind of hard to make a living on 2.5% when there is no other means to generate additional income with the client.

We where swamped with requests for service and support that the end-user assumed was free of charge because we where part of Anixter.

We have since severed our ties with them, not only because of what occurred.......

A lot of the end-users are hooked like junkies to Anixters pricing so it becomes ever more difficult to earn their business.

the icing on the cake is when you get requests from the outside sales guys to discuss new opportunities. Given their track record, who in their right would discuss "new opportunities" with them.

I have worked extremely hard to get to where I presently am. I am very fortunate in that I do not need Anixters assistance to make ends meet.

A word to the wise approach any dealings with them with great caution.

"One of the rules was we could only sell the products for a 2.5% mark-up to the end-user, sounds good? kind of hard to make a living on 2.5% when there is no other means to generate additional income with the client."

Can you expand on this? Whose rule was it? Did Anixter say that you could only mark-up 2.5%? Could you get any other service / support / integration business from this?

Nothing was ever put on paper but they dictated how much we could mark up. Basically the end-user would still pay their original price to us but Anixter would share 2.5% of their profit with us and we would support the end-user.

The process would be as such.

Anixter would send a quote to the end-user.

We would then bill the end user for the amounts on the quote.

Anixter would bill us for the same equipment less 2.5%.

99% of the end-users did their work in house we where only used for support and design neither of which the end-user was willing to pay for.

I had a long talk with the higher ups when i was trying to decide if we should stick with it or move on. One of points i raised was the following.

If the end-user is stuck to you like glue, and out of your competition you are the only one willing to sell direct then why sell an item to the end-user for 5% above what an Integrator would buy it for. Why not sell it for 10-15% more and pass that on to your integrators who in turn will support the end-users.

The truth is they would still be 5-10% cheaper than any other integrator out there. A program with this model might prove to be successful.

"A lot of the end-users are hooked like junkies to Anixters pricing so it becomes ever more difficult to earn their business." Again, as an end user, I have found their prices to be WAY higher than I can get online. The only thing they are close to competitive on is wire. Not that I doubt you on this, I am just upset I am not getting these great prices....

First, the reality is if it's a big enough order, and the entitiy buying has their own infrastrcuture for installing and managing equipment, almost any distributer is going to sell. I'm talking very large customers like government institutions that will buy in the multimillions of product alone. We understand this.

Those few and rare exeptions aside, we absolutely will not buy anything from Anixter. They have been competitors in bids, even small ones, and that is not a relationship we want. They have bidded levels at 5 points or more below our manufacturer product's highest discount levels, so it can't have been for very much margin on their part. We figure the only way they can make reasonable money is by doing box sales only with no support whatsoever.

Has anyone heard about the support they give end users who they sell too directly?

"They have bidded levels at 5 points or more below our manufacturer product's highest discount levels, so it can't have been for very much margin on their part. We figure the only way they can make reasonable money is by doing box sales only with no support whatsoever."

Presumably, though, they are getting a significant number of points below what any dealer is, since they are (1) a distributor and (2) a large one at that.

One issue that strikes me is how manufacturers deal with this. Many, if not most manufacturers, want distributors to help their dealers/integrators, not cut them out. Manufacturers face blow back too as integrators see them supporting Anixters's policies.

It's not that I'm not enjoying the "Disty Bashing", but you raise a very important and pertinent point. The direct to the end-user model started a long time ago in the electrical and maintenance industry (i.e Grainger & Graybar, Lowes, Home Depot, etc...). Large entities like school districts, casinos, colleges, and other large campus environments typically have a Master electrician on staff at a minimum. And depending upon the ultimate size of the organization, possibly several more members of a maintenance department or full blown electrical shop. They buy their pipe, wire, breakers, ballasts and whatnots independently of any contractor advice or experitise because they know what they need. In an environment such as this there is absolutely no way any electrical contractor is ever going to have an opportuntity to perform any billable work- its the zero opportunity opportuntity. Anybody can buy the parts- but not everybody has the smarts. Isn't that what the integrator community ultimately expects to get paid for?

Competition is good. Restraint of trade is bad.

Go Anixter...

James, thanks.

I think the key issue integrators are emphasizing here is that Anixter is trying to hide / obscure that they sell direct to end users.

If Anixter just came out and said, "Hey we sell to end users, deal with it", integrators may not like it but they would clearly know where they stand. Yes/no?

I am a tinkerer. I tinker with lots of electronics and computeres.

And there are huge segments of product that I can't buy because there are industry groups who very strongly work to restrict sales to only their group. In the video surveylance area, most of the equipment available retail is junk.

Anyone who helps end restraint of trade is a good guy in my book.

The trend in electronics is going my way so really I can't complain too much. I just had to throw in my libertarian rant after reading a lot of self-serving comments.

BTW, love the service. Worth every penny.

Who exactly is being self serving is relative. There is a natural adversarial nature to the relationship between retailers and cusumers, just like in law between the defense and prosecution, and each tends to see things based on their own self interest. A deal occurs when both sides find an equitable common ground, most times its when an agreeable price is reached, and other times when along with price when a certain criteria is met.

You are using free market economic arguments to promote restraint of trade. Nice mental gymnastics...

If Anixter just came out and said, "Hey we sell to end users, deal with it", integrators may not like it but they would clearly know where they stand. Yes/no?

Agreed (yes): its not the fact of selling direct although that will still get some integrators upset, but as someone else mentioned - most disti's do it on some level or degree. Graybar is a perfect example but they're very honest and upfront about it and will explain to anyone who asks, what kind of customer they work directly with and on which products and why they do it. Then its up to the integrator to "deal with it" or go to someone else for their purchases where the likelihood is they'll still be buying from a disti that sells direct, they just won't be told the truth about it. It's the sneaky pete way Anixter goes about it and then looks you in the eye over a conference room table and bold faced lies about it thats unethical. When you have the reputation of being sneaky, lying etc about one issue (selling direct) the natural reaction is "what else are they going to be dishonest, unethical about?". Just be honest - take a lesson from Graybar!

Totally agree John. Its the dishonesty that makes them slimey. Tell integrators up front and then the integrator can decide to no bid anything that comes out from the agencies known to purchase direct from Anixter. Saves the time and cost of putting in a bid. And if the agency cries "but I need 3 quotes" I'm sure Anixter has a method of providing those on separate company letterheads too. How about one from Anixter, one from Tri-Ed and.....who else do they own? Agency gets what they want, Anixter gets what they want and Integrator can go make money with a customer who values integration support and is willing to pay a few dollars more to maintain those relationships.

"How about one from Anixter, one from Tri-Ed and.....who else do they own?"

Clark Security. Anixter, Tri-Ed, Clark.

There are plenty of materials and products that are regulated in restrained trade to be grateful for. Thank you capitalism, but thank you for specialists who demonstrate accountability to the public before reselling them.

At least I haven't seen sticks of dynamite and chemotherapy drugs in the clearance bin lately.

Counterpoint: AutoZone sells brakes to anyone with a credit card. Are you worried that the stoner kid down the block is going to plow into your rose bushes one day because he tried replacing his own pads and kind of forgot what he was doing halfway through? No, because that rarely happens. Restrain of trade is rarely a good thing.

Of course, there's no Hayne's Manual for IP cameras.

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.

Well put and I agree with your assessment.

I have also been told from former employees that if a deal is sold direct, commissions are not paid.


If they were illegal, Anixter wouldn't be engaged in them.

Therefore if they are engaged in them they must be legal?

I can assure you that if an Anixter sales person is found to have been engaged in illegal behavior, he/she will be terminated.

On what authority/information do assure us of this?

Donuts, Lunch, Dinner, Golf, Fishing, Hunting, Drinks, Trips etc... Where does one draw the line to what is acceptable and what is not?

The law is certainly a reasonable starting point, which for goverment employees is $50 a year max.

In view of the preceeding, what is your position on the aforementioned scandal?

Were they engaged in legal activities? If not, who got terminated, besides perhaps the whistleblower?

Another person dealing in absolutes...

If Anixter was some incredibly lawless organization - with the Billions of $$$ they do in business - there would be a lot more instances of this coming to light. As I said you have ethical and less than ethical people in any organization of this size - so I am not saying it doesn't happen. I said in my territory I haven't seen it. On what authority do I assure you of this? I can only base it on past experience - where local employees stepped across the line and they were terminated. In my 15+ years as a supplier to them I have seen this twice. So obviuously things happen, and in my opinion when they do Anixter has policies in place to deal with them.

Federal law is different, than state and local laws on what is acceptable. There is definitely responsibility on the part of the client as well as Anixter - to be aware of what those parameters are. Does the line get crossed? Absolutely! Is it a standard business practice. No!

My view is - let the legal system do what they are supposed to do. I am not judge and jury. If they were in violation of the law then both the people at the CIA as well as the Anixter employee(s) engaged in the behavior should take responsibility and accept the consequences. I am not an employee of Anixter and have no knowledge of this specific incident. Again the point isn't whether this stuff occurs or not - it is a question of whether it is a standard business pratice and go to market strategy. In my experience - it is not

Given that we all agree that Anixter sells surveillance equipment to at least some end users, a related interesting question is what are the roles of manufacturers in all this? If Anixter is selling large quotes (hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars), the manufacturer sales team is going to find out (either through the impacted integrator or from the customer directly as they need support).

My understanding is that certain manufacturers are complicit in this (either looking the other way or begrudgingly accepting this), while others have strict rules they enforce that prevents / motivates Anixter selling those products direct.

To that end, does anyone know specific surveillance brands Anixter is or is not selling to end users?

So, you think Anixter is selling millions of dollars of brand "X" to an end user. Which means they are probably doing several million dollars with brand "X". What do you think the manufacturer is going to say?

True story... Names and numbers changed....

Bob owns an integration company... Lets call it Bob's Trunkslammin Security Co.. He has 1 client, his life long friend Mike, who is the security director of a HUGE hospital network consisting of almost 300 buildings, and well over 10K cameras. Bob has been buying all of his cameras from Anixter, and has been pretty good about paying his bills... But Bob, while he is pretty good at camera work, isn't a good business owner. And one day the IRS helps Bob decide its time for him to close his business. Mike goes to Bob and says "Bob, Last year you billed me 415K in service hours. How about I hire you, and 2 of your employees. I'll pay you $175K, and each of your techs I'll pay $65K.

Mike shaves 110K off of his yearly spend, Bob no longer needs to worry about the IRS taking his house, and 2 of Bob's employees now have really good jobs...

Today, Bob owns his own company, Tomorrow Bob is an employee of the hospital. Tomorrow Bob walks into Anixter to place an order... He is your client, hands you a 200K PO, you make commission...

He is your client, hands you a 200K PO, you make commission...

I was getting the draft of it until just around the finish. How did I get in the story? I am Salesperson?

Ok, I'll draw the picture...
Put yourself in the sales man shoes... Bob walks in and hands you a 200K PO, you make commission, Bob still has an account with you, in his old company's name. By your books, your selling to Bob's Trunkslammin Security Co, even though you know he is now the end user....

1. Do you really pass up the sale?
2. Is your boss really happy you passed up the sale?
3. Do you think Bob is going straight to Graybar / CSC who is going to sell to him anyway?

3. Do you think Bob is going straight to Graybar / CSC who is going to sell to him anyway?

So if everybody else is cheating that makes it okay?

Also, the scenario you paint is not the endemic issue here.

I don't know how you think it is cheating. Graybar, for a fact, doesn't hide the fact that they sell direct to the end user. They have a sales force in the field whos job is specifically to sell to the end user.

First, do you agree it makes no difference what Graybar does here? If those other guys sent gold-plated pallets full of restricted sale goods padded with $100s, it does not change the fact Anixter is unclear and deceptive on the issue of selling direct and gives different answers to different people.

"Today, Bob owns his own company, Tomorrow Bob is an employee of the hospital. Tomorrow Bob walks into Anixter to place an order... He is your client, hands you a 200K PO, you make commission..."

This answer is simple. You book the order to the hospital, unless your internal policy or resell agreements forbid it. And if you choose to, you do not tell your other customers you don't. Honesty is easy.

Brian - I do agree. But I do not think things are as black and white as you make them.

Anixter does have clients they sell to direct, on the electrical side for example, I'm pretty sure they don't hide that.

So I am going to pull some name out of the air here, but lets just say.. rApple. So for this example, Anixter has a sales guy whos job is simply to get as much money from rApple as possible. 99% of his time is spent on the electrical and data side, but one day Mr rApple Security says "IP Camera" and the Anixter sales guy, who has never sold a camera in his life, and has no idea about any policy, agreement, or anixters stance on selling direct.. A sales guy who simply knows that he had to sit in on a webinar 3 years ago about a camera that his only customer is now asking about.. His answer is "Yea, I can get that" searches his computer for parts, puts together a quote and goes from there.

I guess my point in that ramble, I'm not sure its malicious.. I just think its a right hand / left hand issue.

Although I am not questioning the veracity of this account, I am unsure how this implicates Anixter in anything truly unethical since no party is damaged, and whether Bob is independent or not he is the prime beneficiary(rightfully) of leveraging both his customer and vendor relationships.

Furthermore for all intents and purposes Bob still is the defacto integrator, since the hospital technically would still need to go thru "BTS" for support / warranty / billing and such. So where is the victim?

How would you feel about it if BTS became a profit center for the hospital by leveraging Bob et. al. for non-hospital billable work also, so the hospital becomes the integrator? (Trunkslammer's Trauma Unit anyone?) Is that ok?

Many large corporations create departments in-house in a piece-meal fashion, through acquisition of a small vendor or hiring multiple consultants fron a larger one. Although many of these cases can be ethically tricky, this one in comparison is benign.

Rukmini, that's a good question / point. I started a new discussion to focus on that: End Users With Their Own Internal Security Integrator Staff?

I'm just wondering if everyones feelings are the same going both ways..

If you are an integrator who doesn't like Disty selling to your Clients...

If an electrical were to call you on the phone and say "We have this large client we would like to provide security for, we have subbed for this other security in the past but would like to keep them out of the loop on this one. Basically, we are looking for a box sale of 200K in equipment We can give you a 10pt margin on the equipment and can pay up front, can you help us" Are you going to go "Really, that is a distributors job, you should call Anixter."

Do distributors (including Anixter) sell direct? Yes! BTW it is not illegal for them to do so. Integrators are free to choose to do business with them or not. Where I take exception is the broad brush that is being used to imply that this is a standard business practice and go to market strategy - when I know for a fact, that in my given market it is not. I'm not trying to paint all Anixter employees and locations to be angels with gleaming haloes. But, I can emphatically and enthusiastically say say it is NOT how they prefer to go to market, nor is it an everyday business practice. Their first priority is to have the business go to the integrator. Situations occur where they have to make difficult decisions and balance the consequences of losing an order or suffering the wrath of integrators in the market because they take an order direct.

I can tell you the reality is - the better your relationship with a distributor and the more account control an integrator has with an end-user will significantly lessen the liklihood of any distributor taking an order direct from them. In real estate it's location, location, location. In our world it is account control, account control, account control. This doesn't bode well for integrators who merely crank out responses to RFP's. Integrators who are actively working with their client's to understand their needs, requirements and pain points, and offering solutions to address those, is the integrator who generally doesn't have to worry about a distributor selling direct - because the end-user won't want to buy direct and see's the value the integrato brings to the table.

There is one more very important component to this - that as yet hasn't been mentioned. Technical support. That is the role of the integrator to be qualified and knowledgable to install and integrate the solution. I can tell you most distributor sales people can't change an IP address on a camera. A distributor runs the risk of having an end user look to them for these support issues if they sell direct. They can't and don't want to get into this role, which is another reason they don't want to go around the integrator.

Anixter sells Bosch direct to K12 market in Pennsylvania. Three weeks ago I asked Bosch why they allow this and have not received a reply as of today.

Once again, it comes back to how do they stop it.
Paychecks get paid by boxes moving off the shelf... Goes for Anixter and Bosh.
Bosh says "Hey Anixter, no more or we aren't going to sell to you" I'm sure Bosh sales will be way up next month.

Yes and Video Insight is cannibalizing the market by completely ignoring every aspect of the channel when it suits their needs.

Let's face it there is a lot of irritating and irrational behavior.

We can either whine about it or adapt and move on.

Your PA scenario is missing one crucial element. Who is driving the business or has account control? If Anixter is driving the business and Bosch tells them you can't sell direct - Anixter says OK - we will sell them _______. That conversation is going to end right there. If Bosch is in control then it's a different scenario... the bottom line it is going to be difficult for the Bosch guy to want to upset that apple cart. I wouldn't expect an answer right away. Put yourself in his shoes. Are you going to risk losing that business?

I always say I'd rather lose for the right reason, than win for the wrong one... that is a lot harder to justify when your regional manager and VP of Sales are beating the crap out of you because you just lost the K-12 business in PA because you told Anixter you can't do that. If you lose that battle you're going to be looking for a new job. The pressure to perform - especially by the camera and the VMS manufacturers is incredible.

Actually Bosch cameras can be purchased at Wal-mart and now Walgreens! We just received an email from one of their CSR agents and they listed both of them as a place where we could purchase the cameras. As far as I am concerned that is even worse than Anixter selling direct. I will not be very likely to resell ANY bosch camera gear in the future. I know Sony has a Manufacturers Advertised Price (MAP) Policy and I have actually seen them go after online resellers that violate the policy. This is to protect the dealers that are actually investing in the training and driving business Sony's way. But for the manufacturer to skirt their own dealers is kind of crazy!

Much of the conversation seems to focus on whether the Anixter Marketing VP was truthful in his answer. If you break it down he was truthful, but he gave himself a lot of wiggle room (or was evasive)... which he needed because it is obvious to all of us here that they do on occassion sell direct. If you watch any political debate or commentary it is common for these guys to parse words. Making an investment in our nation is code for increased tax revenue, fairness is code for many things that generally boil down to income redistribution and so on. The Anixter VP was clearly using similar tactics in avoiding a direct answer to a simple question. The truth is no matter how he answers that question he is going to get skewered by somebody - much like the politician. If he says yes he is criticized because it makes integrators mad and affirms for them that this IS a standard business practice for them, rather than the exception. If he says no he is criticized because - "he lied". If he answers the way he did he is criticized for being evasive. He obviously didn't want to belabor the point and draw attention to it and he was trying to highlight Anixter's commitment to sell primarily through the integrator channel - for all the previously stated reasons. It's a no-win situation and to John's original point - he should have just told the publication - let's leave that alone instead he tried to give a politically correct answer which everyone sees through immediately.

"If you break it down he was truthful"

Totally, agreed. That is the very definition of a non-denial denial. But it was also duplicitous because he created the impression that they never sold direct (the specific question) when the reality is that they do.

You continue:

"The truth is no matter how he answers that question he is going to get skewered by somebody - much like the politician."

Tough on him. That is not an excuse. If you want to be trusted, be honest about what you are doing. These integrators are their customers. They certainly can choose to play such word games and verbal sleight of hand, but you are seeing the consequences that many customers are fearful of doing business with them.

For the record what was the correct choice of action, so as not to make a "rookie blunder"?

1. Categorical denial

2. Non-denial denial

3. Regretful affirmation

4. Avoidance thru editorial redaction

I respectfully submit that 4 is nearly as damaging to "good will" as 2 since astute readers, such as yourself, will note the absence and infer the implicit or explicit redaction regardless.

Rukmini, that's funny!

First, from Anixter's standpoint, option #4 is definitely the best of the ones you gave. Seriously, saying nothing is not a bad strategy. Out of sight, out of mind...

Categorical denial is the worst, because you get branded as a liar. Non-denial denial is a little better, because you are 'just' being duplicitous.

The best option, not presented above, is a reasoned explanation. This is different from regretful affirmation which would be something like "Sorry, we do sell direct, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa."

Anixter could simply explain its policies, in detail, including under what conditions they will or will not sell direct. This is not as good as tricking everyone into thinking they never sell direct but is better than developing a reputation for back stabbing their partners whenever they want.

I didn't endorse it or defend it - I merely stated his options.

Clearly I don't support those who parse words or avoid the cold hard truth. My original points still stand. Yes they sell direct, but I do not believe it is a standard business practice - or something they actively pursue to "stab the integrators in the back".

While many maintain he should address those situations where they would consider the direct option, I am certain he wanted to accentuate the positive and diminish the negative. Which was the option I listed as he didn't want to belabor the point. Other than not addressing the question at all, he gets criticized and this blog is a living testament to that.

I would suggest that if he laid out their specific instances for doing so there would be criticism for that as well.

So much drama - so little time. :-)

"Other than not addressing the question at all, he gets criticized and this blog is a living testament to that."

And there we have it! The classic manufacturer 'stick their head in the sand defense'.

Anixter needs to pick between the two of the following:

  • (A) Get criticized for being duplicitous, erode trust with their customers, and encourage the assumption that the sell to end users all the time to screw over integrators.
  • (B) Get criticized for clearly explaining when and where they sell to end users, which many of their integrator customers may dislike but at least will be reassured to know where they stand.

I think B is better. The main short term hope for Anixter is that not enough people hear about this so they can try to wipe it under the table.

But this is ultimately a losing proposition. If you are doing something that a significant amount of your customers have issues with, far better to correct and/or explain than to hope you can make it disappear in the age of the Internet.

I completely disagree with the statement this is a classic manufacturer sticking their head in the sand response. First, I am not sticking my head in the sand. I merely pointed out my perspective on what happens in my market. Second, I am not defending them because I don't have to, I personally do not have a situation that I know of where they are selling my product direct. I didn't say their actions were justified. I pointed out scenarios where they have to make a tough call. I didn't condone or endorse it. Yet when I don't throw the guy or the company under the bus I get criticized for not joining in the dogpile. Nice.

When I referred to "this blog" I wasn't directing it specifically at IPVM I was directing it at the responses that were on the page. Never was I arguing that he was right in his response - only that no matter what his response was he was going to be criticized, and clearly that his been illustrated here, and I'm sure it will be again.

I have gone out of the way to be the voice of reason. I am pointing out that in every single scenario the guy gets criticized. If the guy had said in some instances we feel it is necessary to sell direct and these are some of the reasons why. The headline would have probably been... ANIXTER ADMITS THEY SELL DIRECT!

Sure Option B is better, I am not trying to argue against it - but he would have still been roundly criticized. It is proof enough for me that in what I consider to be my measured approach (which you acknowledged, offline) has been met with insulting remarks like (head in the sand) and nit-picking responses. Remember - I don't have a dog in this hunt.

"I have gone out of the way to be the voice of reason"

Spare me. You have a viewpoint and it's fine that you have it. But you are not the 'voice of reason'. There are plenty of other people in this discussion (senior industry people who are as undisclosed as you) who have equally valid experiences and perspectives, remember that.

And you really must be confused to be insulted by my reference to 'head in the sand'? It was not directed at you, since by definition your willingness to discuss this means you do not have your head in the sand. Get it?

"I am pointing out that in every single scenario the guy gets criticized."

Yes, because it's a controversial policy. But that's their policy - Anixter's choice.

This is like a restaurant complaining that the online reviews of their customers are 'unfair' and that they are upset that they are getting criticized.

Ultimately, successful businesses face these problems head on.

Anixter has two problems. One that selling to end users is adversarial to the interests of their integrator customers (debate when, why and how often it happens) and, Two, that they cannot be trusted to tell the truth, compounding the issue.

You're a very funny guy.

Is it that difficult for people to recognize and acknowledge that a company's core strategy is to sell through it's Integrators first and foremost... but occasionally there are exceptions to the rule. If that isn't the voice of reason I don't know what is? Apparently the dog-pile is more popular.

I haven't criticized anyone's perspectives - I have merely stated my position and defended it. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and everyone has had different experiences. With regard to Anixter, mine have been mostly positive.

I get that your site thrives on controversy - much like newspapers and News outlets - sensationalism and controversy get readers and viewers. On occasion there are some excellent and informative pieces that aren't steeped in personal opinion and editorializing. Your site - your rules. I needn't participate if I don't want to. I get it.

I noticed you didn't respond to my comment about the probable headline if the guy had responded the way you say he should have... ANIXTER ADMITS THEY SELL DIRECT. Probably because you know it's true. Is this avoidance of the subject or a classical non-denial denial? Seems we were just debating something very similar with regard to the Anixter VP. In this instance it reminds a lot of the sportswriter played by Robert Duvall in the movie "The Natural".

With the utmost sincerity... Have a blessed day - and I hope you find a new and equally controversial topic to enthrall your readership today.

"I get that your site thrives on controversy - much like newspapers and News outlets - sensationalism and controversy get readers and viewers."

Another classic manufacturer cop-out. Honestly, thank you for bringing this up.

This discussion is controversial because so many industry people have shared bad experiences about Anixter. Period. You can ignore them, you can tell us that you are the 'voice of reason' and somehow that all these other people are lying, mistaken, etc.

If no one cared about Anixter or about selling direct or had any bad experiences, this discussion would have went nowhere.

I get it, though. This is the manufacturer handbook - do something against one's customer interests, put one's head in the sand and then blame the customers criticizing you for being sensational.

I never said anyone lied, were mistaken or even implied it - I'll thank you to not mis-represent what I say. I find it interesting and informative that other people's experiences and perspectives differ from mine.

So you published a comment saying that I was 'reprehensible' and a 'hypocrite' and then edited that out afterward. That's clearly the 'voice of reason' at work...

I genuinely think it is worthwhile to have contrary opinions on the site and having your viewpoint made this a stronger discussion. I mainly object to you calling yourself the 'voice of reason'. I believe you are being honest about your Anixter experiences, but there are a lot of other industry professionals with much more negative ones. That does not make them unreasonable, simply because their experiences differ from yours.

At the end of the day, IPVM publishes lots of things - 50 or so posts and ~150 discussions a month. I cannot control what becomes popular or controversial. If you cannot get over that many of your colleagues disagree and have contrary experiences than you have with Anixter, that's your problem, not mine.

"If you cannot get over that many of your colleagues disagree and have contrary experiences than you have with Anixter, that's your problem not mine."

There is nothing to get over. because their posts, opinions and experiences are valid.

"I find it interesting and informative that other people's experiences and perspectives differ from mine."

How in the world do you manipulate that into I need to get over the fact that other peoples opinions and experiences differ from mine? Freaky!!!! Clearly you live in some alternate universe where you believe that something is so just because you have stated it. I challenge you to find any place in any of my posts where I emphatically stated or merely implied someone's opinions (other than your own) were not valid or false. Let's be clear here - your opinions and experiences are valid too. Your problem with me began when I pointed out that no matter how Anixter answered you were going to sensationalize it and criticize them. You didn't like being called out and worse yet you are guilty of one of the behaviors you criticized Anixter for, because you have avoided like the plague answering my question about the "probable headline". Where I come from that's called hypocrisy.

Since that point you have on numerous occassions made inaccurate statements about my posts and positions and implied that I either engaged in or supported the topic in question. All of which are not only inaccurate but absolutely false. Those are the things I find irresponsible and reprehensible - and yes I edited those words out because they were emotionally charged and I was trying to maintain a proper decorum, albeit after the fact.

I know you objected to me calling myself the voice of reason, because you believe you are that voice. You have clearly demonstrated that you are not. Especially, when time and again you misrepresent others opinions and positions. At the very least it casts a shadow over your credibility. At this point in our discussion I can no longer claim to be the voice of reason, because I did allow your insulting remarks and misrepresentations to evoke an emotional response. Now, I have responded with a few insulting remarks of my own... Justifiable but, still regrettable.

I know it's your site and you won't be happy until you have the final word - so knock yourself out. Just please stop putting words in my mouth, and attributing positions and opinions to me, that I have neither expressed or even implied.

I never said it was a valid excuse. I merely pointed out that he was going to be criticized no matter what he said.

I have represented manufacturers that will refuse a sale to Anixter (or any distributor for that matter) if they are not selling to an integrator. They require a project registration and integrator information or the sale does not go through. Can be painful in some cases because often times end-users are purchasing off of a contract that is direct with the distributor. Me and my manufacturer have lost business to another brand that was okay with the policy. Some of these same manufacturers only sell through the distribution channel and don't go dealer direct, so they are protecting both the Distributor and Integrator with thier policy.

That's awesome and you should be commended for your principled decsion. I wish more manufacturers (and individuals) behaved that way. In today's world where so many focus on short term results rather than long term consequences of their decisions, people frequently get themselves into trouble.

Perhaps I could paraphrase an old cliche - the long-term road that leads to hell is paved with short-term good intentions.

John smoked J ;)

Now THAT'S funny!

He'd be mellower if he had.

Oh, wait.

A mellow John, now that would be a sight to behold.

Yep that's funny...

How do I get myself out of the notification loop on this discussion? My inbox is blown up from all this back & forth which has degenerated to a juvenile name calling match between two supposed security professionals. Its an embarassment to our industry at this point and I'd like to opt out.


You have been removed from notifications.

Note to all, at the bottom of every email, there is a link to unsubscribe to notices. There is also a link at the top of every discussion one is getting notice to unsubscribe.

I recommend no more comments here, unless there is new information or experiences on Anixter.


For what it is worth, I agree and apologize to you and all the interested readers and contributors to this topic for my juvenile and unprofessional behavior. There is no proper forum for that type of behavior and least of all here. So, I extend my sincerest apologies to all.

They sell directly to end users, I had been selling access cards to a Sherrifs Department in Massachusetts and lost an order to Anixter, when I questioned the sale, they denied it, but when I sent the list of bidders with Anixter as the winning bidder I was told it was a one time thing from another branch and they had no control over it!