A group of electrical distributors that sell 95 percent of all Allen-Bradley products in the United States have formed the Vanguard National Alliance Inc. (VNA), a cooperative effort aimed at providing multi-site industrial companies with a package of Rockwell Automation products and solutions, as well as related products from other manufacturers.

The VNA distributors hope to ink national account contracts with large industrials by providing automation products, technical support, repair, logistics, procurement, MRO inventory management and other critical plant services. VNA will serve as the single point of contact for national accounts, coordinating sales activities, contract development (including pricing, proposal and negotiations) and contract implementation to insure consistency and utilization of best practices.

VNA is financed by its distributor members, said David Pratt, VNA's acting managing director. Pratt was the president of PM Systems, Boston, a provider of business software for electrical distributors, for 17 years. Although Allen-Bradley/Rockwell Automation, Milwaukee, supports the initiative, Pratt said the company has no financial stake in it.

VNA was formed by many of the same electrical distributors behind The Vanguard Distribution Group, a two-year-old group of 18 independent Allen-Bradley/Rockwell Automation distributors who pool their resources to develop online marketing and management resources, such as a template-based Web site, e-mail newsletters, product data and business management tools. They also enjoy the benefits of sharing best practices, point-of-sale data and networking.

Pratt said Allen-Bradley/Rockwell products would be about 30 percent to 50 percent of the product mix. Ballasts, lamps, fuses, wire and cable and other electrical products would also be part of the package.

Pratt said that while members of The Vanguard Distribution Group belong to the VNA, the groups are different and have different missions. Members of Vanguard Distribution Group are mid-sized independent electrical distributors, while VNA includes not only distributors of this size, but large national and regional chains such as WESCO Inc., Pittsburgh; Rexel Inc., Dallas; and Consolidated Electrical Distributors Inc., Westlake Village, Calif.