Q&A with Alex Jourdan

April 27, 2015

Alex JourdanAs a 26-year veteran of the company, Alex Jourdan boasts an understanding of A.J. Oster few can match.  He joined the firm in 1988 as an inside sales rep and proceeded to work his way up through the ranks until being named General Manager of A.J. Oster East in 2012 and most recently V.P. and General Manager in 2015. We caught up with him a few weeks ago and asked him to share his thoughts on A.J. Oster’s products and services – past, present and future.

In your opinion, what differentiates A.J. Oster’s product line from that of your competitors?

We believe we offer the widest range of copper-based alloys in the entire industry. That includes high performance alloys, which are critical to the automotive industry. We also have in a very significant investment in red metals inventory, which enables us to offer immediate availability of numerous alloy gauge and temper combinations that other distributors would be hard-pressed to match. Whatever a customer needs, chances are we have it in stock.

Now we’re trying to take that same platform that’s been successful in red metals and roll it out to other products. That’s why we’re increasing our position in aluminum and stainless steel, and looking at other metals, too.

Do you believe your product quality is higher?

I would say overall, yes. In many of the markets we service – automotive, for example – defect-free material is an absolute must. If you can’t deliver it, you have no business in the business. Thanks to our size and strength, and the integrity of Olin Brass and all of our suppliers, I believe our product quality is consistently superior.

How often do you introduce new products? And how do you get the word out?

In the old days, new alloy development was a prime focus for Olin Brass and a source of new products for A.J. Oster. Today, our growth comes through expansion of existing product offerings. For example, we continue to see excellent growth opportunities in phosphor bronze, and we’ve broadened and strengthened our supply chain to support those opportunities. We’re also trying to expand our aluminum business by leveraging knowledge and expertise from other parts of GBC with our proven distribution network. And we continue to have success expanding our stainless steel distribution network.

As for getting the word out on new developments, it’s much easier to do today, thanks in large part to digital communications. Where we used to rely almost exclusively on the sales force, now we can look to our website, email, and e-newsletters like this one to support their efforts.

How much do Oster’s product offerings vary from region to region?

Every product is available at every A.J. Oster location. Some facilities do offer specialized products and services based on their customers needs – Alliance and Yorba Linda both have light gauge aluminum capabilities, for example, and Carol Stream’s tinning capabilities are unique to the network. But they are available to customers at any A.J. Oster facility, anywhere on the continent.

Does the same hold true for Oster sales reps? Are they all equally well-versed in the entire product line?

Again, the answer is yes. All of our sales reps have a strong working knowledge of our products and services. That said, some will have stronger technical expertise in certain product areas, based on their location and the customers they serve. That just goes with territory.

But our organization is set up so that wherever you are, whatever you need, A.J. Oster is ready to satisfy your metal needs. That’s the bottom line.