In an effort to jointly develop e-business strategies and exchange best practices and ideas on better serving the industrial/OEM market, 18 Allen-Bradley distributors have agreed to form the Vanguard Group LLC.

The online strategies that the group hopes to have developed by first-quarter 2001 include common templates for presenting technical product information to industrial customers; N.E. Code information online; and seamless links to the Web sites of their common vendors, including Allen-Bradley/Rockwell Automation, Milwaukee; Hoffman Engineering, Anoka, Minn.; and Bussmann/Cooper Industries, St. Louis, Mo.

Vanguard Group members all have a strong focus on industrial customers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) through their Allen-Bradley/Rockwell affiliation and were looking for ideas on how to offer online access to the technical data that customers expect of Allen-Bradley distributors. Since carrying this product line alone can easily account for half of an electrical distributor's total sales, all of the Vanguard members were dealing with many of the same customer service and Web-strategy issues.

The Vanguard Group's seven founding members are French Gerleman Electric Co., Maryland Heights, Mo.; OneSource Distributors Inc., San Diego; Horizon Solutions, Rochester, N.Y.; Van Meter Industrial Inc., Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Electrical Equipment Co., Raleigh, N.C.; Roden Electrical Supply Co., Knoxville, Tenn.; and McNaughton-McKay Electric Co., Madison Heights, Mich.