Tue Dec 12, 2017
Author: Scott Hansen
Cody Talbert Distribution is not a new name in the RV industry, but the Plant City, Florida-based distribution company has re-invented itself as an independent, privately held company with a focus on repair and service parts. Since Mark Jenson, Cody Talbert’s President, took over, the company has continued to grow, adding new supplier lines and establishing itself in the distribution business.
Jenson started his career with NTP in 2003 and became the vice president of sales and marketing. Over the next decade that Jenson was with the company, it grew quickly and became a national distributor which was purchased by Keystone. During that time, Cody Talbert Distribution was owned by Rob Cochran, who was a customer of NTP.
After Jenson left his job with the newly merged company, Cochran reached out to him and told him of an opportunity to take over as the president of Cody Talbert.
“He asked if I had interest in running a distribution company and growing it,” Jenson says. “The deal became effective on Jan. 1 and I became president of Cody Talbert.”
Taking over a company that had its challenges being seen as a major player in distribution was not easy. But having success in his previous industry positions, Jenson had a lot of solid business principles and a solid groundwork to draw from.
“I was used to doing business in a particular way. It was something I was proud of. Of great benefit was that Cody Talbert had been run with a very similar approach.” Jenson says. “The idea is we will do everything we can to help a customer be successful and by doing so, we will in turn be successful. We have high levels of customer service, fair practices, integrity and we deliver the right product at the right place at the right time. So, I jumped in and worked to grow the business with that mindset.”
Jenson took an approach of three phases to get the company to where it needed to be to have a horse in the race of RV distribution. The first phase was fully internal, implementing the right technology and setting up processes, practices and procedures within the company.
By the end of March, Cody Talbert shifted focus to work on setting competitive pricing and driving cost out as necessary to support the pricing while establishing the proper relationships with its suppliers, both those that worked with the company before the transition and new lines the company was looking to add.
Since August, the company has been working on its third phase, which is to grow revenue.
“That’s where we’re at now, in the process of growing revenue, creating an identity and a profile. One area that’s a key focus for us right now is becoming a go-to distributor for service and repair parts in the southeastern United States. We’ve added new lines with more to be announced, made significant investments in inventory, and are leveraging technology solutions to support customers in their daily operations around service.”
To support expanding the company’s business, Cody Talbert has significantly expanded five existing service/repair lines while also bringing on five new service/repair lines over the last two weeks. In the next few weeks, Jenson says the company expects to open three additional service/repair lines. The company also has supplier lines supporting campgrounds and towing segments of the RV industry.
“Since January of this year, we have been building up the service and repair parts of our business,” Jenson says. “We felt comfortable in doing so and we’re going to continue to support it. Our focus is to grow in this category to support earning market share.”
Recent national changes in the distribution of RV parts and accessories may have created opportunity for this effort.
“There is an opportunity to expedite specific objectives,” Jenson says. “Some dealers and repair centers are searching for the right distributor for them. We’ve received contact from or connected with customers we’ve not had prior relationship with. So, we have seen an impact in our business.”
Cody Talbert is still waiting for delivery on some of the recent inventory expansion, so the company is probably a week or two out from having everything in stock, Jenson says. However, the strides the company has made over the last year are significant; migrating to a new ERP system, launching a new customer web portal, expanding operating hours, doubling its inventory in key categories and having its company and parts listed on RV PartFinder.
But in no way is the distributor content with the gains it has made so far. For them, it’s just a beginning, with a long journey still ahead.