Commission Agent and Darwin’s theory

Commission Agent and Darwin’s theory

One is often surprised, when I explain that I’m a commission agent of professional hand tools. “Does that profession still exist”?, is the often heard question. The view is that the profession of commission agent is something of the past and today, with our transparent world and global websites and brands, we are well off without it.

Since I am a commission agent, and successful at what I do, I have, of course, an entirely different opinion.

The markets are getting leaner and leaner. This means that everything a company does, which is not for the direct benefit of the customer, can be considered as cost. And costs should be avoided in order to maintain competitiveness.This leads to more and more  links in the distribution chain disappearing. E.g. Chinese factories offer their products directly on to (professional) endusers in packs of 10 up to a full 40-foot container load. Buying groups send their drop shipment from their Central European depots directly to the enduser while the invoice comes through a local dealer: Ordered before three o’Clock and you will receive your shipment the next day wherever you want in Europe. Or what do you think of Amazon: Such a sophisticated and user-friendly B2B or B2C platform that you can place your order while you are waiting for a traffic light. The back and forth shipping of supplies to “local hubs” belongs to the past. Not our European borders will determine stock-location but it’s accessibility within a predetermined timeframe. The finely meshed logistics are taken over by parcel services which ensure same-day or next-day delivery.

But how will we deal with our customers in future? Certainly not only by email or by an anonymous voice from a callcenter? How do we help our customers to chose our products when they are wandering around in the multitude of vendors and their hundreds if not thousands of products? Who convinces a customer a better product or solution? Who communicates with the customer in his own language and finds the need the customer is not yet aware of? Who can quickly assess a warranty claim or mediate in (non) payments? Who does demo’s or visits the (potential) customers with a trunk full of look-and-feel samples and verbal explanation and persuasion? Who communicates deviating requirements or specifications with his manufacturer for the benefit of the customer,but already has an idea if it will be feasibility? Who makes the manufacturer aware of the (local) markets and is able to estimate the best selling price or can negotiate it with a customer?

There will always remain the need for a strong communicative link that should not cost too much.The commission agent can be that link. With just a car, a computer and a good taste for coffee, costs are covered by only a few percent of the price of the product. And for that small amount of money the commission agent is the local scout AND stormtrooper. And thus completes the chain to the customer with maximum flexibility.

And as Darwin said it:not the fittest survive but those that adapt best to changing circumstances.

Ternbach Agencies BV is a commission agent for VOELKEL, V-COIL, DRONCO, WGB, Compass Europe, SCALA, MPS, D+N and LIGNUM.

For more information check, mail to or call +31(0) 626 052 746


Rob Lintner