Together—myself, my team, every company that was involved, and every person that followed along and watched the episodes—we created an ecosystem of encouragement, support, and inspiration. I set out to make the We Supply America docuseries because I wanted to highlight the noble calling of distribution and to offer encouragement to our industry after the hardships of the global pandemic. The companies and leaders who participated in the We Supply America campaign were partners in this greater goal. They set out to support their employees, their coworkers, their communities, and the broader industry as a whole by persevering through the pandemic and then sharing their stories of overcoming adversity.
My hope is that this is the first part of a lasting legacy we’ll see in our industry: distributors building a mutually supportive relationship with other distributors across the country—all of us recognizing the value this industry brings and taking pride in the noble calling.
Today, I touched base with the Hovis family—of Hovis Auto & Truck Supply, which we featured in our sixth episode—to hear their thoughts on the episode. This was such a fun conversation for me because it really was a family affair. I had the pleasure of not only hearing from the President of Hovis, Cliff Hovis, but also his daughter (Director of Marketing and Training) Grace Hovis, and his son and daughter-in-law Clifford and Addie Hovis. All of them work together at Hovis Auto & Truck Supply, continuing the legacy of this great company.
Dirk Beveridge: What compelled you to be a part of We Supply America?
Cliff Hovis: I found out about it through VIPAR Heavy Duty because we are part of the organization. One of their leaders mentioned to us that we were close to one of your stops on the tour, and that’s how we got connected.
When you first reached out, I was like “Wow.” I didn’t know how to take it all. When someone comes out of the blue and says, “Hey, I want to make a video of your company and your business,” you immediately start to wonder if it’s real.
Dirk Beveridge: What was your experience like while filming?
Cliff Hovis: Anytime we’ve done promotions in the past, I’ve noticed that it’s easier to talk on the radio than to have a camera in your face. A lot of people have that same feeling, I think. But you and the team were really friendly and there was so much enthusiasm in the air that it melted those fears away.
There were no missteps, and that’s what I was worried about. You said you filmed here, at Hovis, twice as long as you had filmed anywhere else because there was so much content here. It was really great to tell that story, the story of Hovis and the story of distribution.
Grace Hovis: Filming day was honestly just exciting. We were all a little nervous but I think everyone was excited. We’ve never done anything like that. To see this business grow—from where it started with my grandfather to how it expanded with my dad and —it was cool to have that day where we could refocus on who we are. It was so cool to see your interviews with our other employees. It was great to hear what they had to say and what the company means to them and how they feel that we impact the country.
Clifford Hovis: It was just nice to reflect on how everything has grown over the years. I got to tell the story of my grandfather starting the business from nothing. It’s my favorite story to tell.
Dirk Beveridge: Do you have any stories or takeaways from the filming?
Cliff Hovis: It was cool to see the next generation, my nieces and nephews and people that are longtime employees, tell the story of how they’ve been involved in the company. It’s multigenerational, not just for Hovis but for our employees as well. Some we’ve had for two generations or three generations. That’s pretty incredible.
It was great just to showcase what our industry is like, yes what Hovis is like but also what our industry as a whole is like. There are people like us across the country. We fight every day and even though there’s a focus on the big “e-tailers” (as we call them), we know that our business is bigger and stronger than ever.
Those e-tailers can’t offer what we have to offer. The difference is, if you get online and order something like a purse, you have different colors and different options and you can make those decisions. But we have technical customers who call and they are very skilled and knowledgeable about their industry. And even though they have an expertise, they’ll call our people behind the counter and ask their opinion on what parts they need for a certain job. It’s having the experts behind the counter as we do, that’s totally different than getting online and figuring out what you want for yourself.
Addie Hovis: It was interesting to see everyone else’s perspective. Working here, we all have our own perspective on the business and the family aspect. But it was cool to see other employees and management and what they thought about things.
Dirk Beveridge: Do you think the episode accurately depicted you and your team?
Grace Hovis: Yeah, I do.
Cliff Hovis: I can’t imagine it coming out any better. You took so much data!
Grace Hovis: To compile that into 25 minutes…
Cliff Hovis: Yeah, it was great. That’s something we had a little bit of apprehension about wondering how you could pull out the right information from so much data and content, but you did spectacularly.
Dirk Beveridge: What was your team’s reaction to the episode?
Cliff Hovis: They were overwhelmed. The finished product, to see it and feel the excitement again. And a lot of people told me it was a tear-jerker or that it touched them. It was really just an amazing experience to be a part of and then to see the finished product.
Dirk Beveridge: How has being part of We Supply America impacted you and your team?
Cliff Hovis: Everyone is working every day, we’re always busy. And it’s been trying this last year—everyone’s working hard. To be able to sit back and look at what we’ve done and what we’ve made, it’s cool. We live in the freest country in the world and the opportunities here are key.
Dirk Beveridge: How have things been going since the filming and since the airing of the episode?
Cliff Hovis: My alma mater, and the school where much of my family attended, sent the video out to all of the alumni and so many people watched it. I have people reaching out to me daily telling me that they watched it. Some people tell me that they cried. It touched other distributors, it touched manufacturers and vendors, it touched people in higher education, customers, employees, and family members.
Dirk Beveridge: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Cliff Hovis: I really think these videos could be beneficial in education, especially for entrepreneurship students. This shows real-world experience, and I think it could be really educational for people who want to understand the business world. I think it’s one thing to educate and another thing to give real-world examples, so this could be a real benefit for the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Cliff was right when he said we took a ton of footage. There is so much great stuff going on with this multi-generational family-owned company, twenty-five minutes is a great start to their story, but this family is one to watch. For some extra insight into how the Hovis family is “all in” and how that drives their success as a company and as a family, check out my interview with Cliff and his brother, Vice President of the company, Curt Hovis.