You’ve been so busy putting out fires the past few years, you may have forgotten the nobility in what you do.
Fortunately, the distribution industry once again proved, without a doubt, that it is a veritable force for good. When COVID-19 and other social, political and economic disruptions threatened to tear apart the very fabric of our nation, distribution companies brought us back together.
They put their thinking caps on and created solutions out of thin air, keeping essential businesses, schools and hospitals in motion. This force of goodness provided every local community, family and individual with the durable and non-durable goods we needed to survive.
Your story still needs to be told.
How a We Supply America Stop Inspired the Distributors We Met in 2021
In Season One of We Supply America, I was blessed to travel over 16,599 miles getting to know 34 distributors, your frontline employees and the history of your businesses. Over those several months, you thoughtfully shared personal stories of your business’ histories, where you’ve been and how you got there, as well as your visions for tomorrow.
Catch episodes from last year’s tour on-demand now. Watch Now
Your stories fueled my passion to champion the noble calling of distribution. Now, it’s your chance to further our joint mission, paving the way for continued success and reclaiming your rightful seat at the channel table. We’re taking this show on the road for Season Two, and I’m calling on you to join me.
Come share your stories, your challenges and your triumphs and inspire others to lead nobly into what I believe is a bright future.
I’ll be traveling the country, looking for distributors ready to share their stories and insights.
Take it from Harris Weinstein, President of Kamo Facility Supply Company. We made a stop at the cleaning supplies distributor’s location in Georgia last year:
“The day was more than I could ever have imagined, and really appreciate you bringing the tour to Kamo. I thought it would be a lot of fun, but it was even better than I thought. To other distributors I’d say, ‘Get on the schedule before the tour fills up. It’s a great opportunity and you’ll have marketing assets to use for years to come.”
Here’s why the distributors we visited said they loved being a part of We Supply America.
We showcased distribution’s people-first culture
It’s your people who truly make the difference. Each person on the team plays an important role not only for the success of the company but for each other’s personal success.
“To be able to walk through the warehouse with you and interact with those that have been on the frontline throughout the pandemic was huge,” said Brett Wilson, Vice President of Sales at Viking Electric.
Jim Banovich, CEO of Marsh Electronics, agreed. “The engagement with the employees was fantastic. To showcase our purpose and what we do here at Marsh meant so much to our people.”
Ryan Holtzman, CEO of Holt Electric, said the visit was much more powerful than he expected. “What I loved the most was watching the staff interact with you. Outside of training for a specific role, this was our first time focusing on the big picture of what we do and taking the day to celebrate the importance of the work each of us do,” he said. “It was awesome! I could see the excitement on everyone’s face, the enjoyment of interacting with you, and feeling special and appreciated.”
For Ryan Bugai, a third-generation leader at Northwest Drivetrain, watching his employees interact with the We Supply America crew was “really special.” “I have always believed in our team, but seeing the way they responded to you, hearing their buy-in to the special work we do to fulfill our mission of Keeping America Moving was really special.”
We celebrated the distribution industry
Distribution isn’t just about selling parts and supplies. It’s about building trust with customers through years of experience, expertise and application-specific knowledge. Cliff Hovis, President at Hovis Auto & Truck Supply, shared his thoughts on why distributors are different.
“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,” said Hovis. “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 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.”
Ryan Craven, Vice President and General Manager of General Air, loved how the tour embraced the story of distribution. “Our employees work so hard and their being able to tell their story to somebody else that is committed to our channel. It’s been a powerful day helping them see the value that they bring to our customers and communities.”
Todd Wade, President-Mechanical at The Republic Companies, felt the same about their tour stop.
“Your message of the noble calling of distribution resonates with me because of the people I get to work with every day. I want their story to be told because they are working hard to take care of our customers and America.”
Paul Kennedy, CEO of Dakota Supply Group, said: “I don’t think anyone has been able to articulate what we do as distributors as well as you are doing on this tour you are on. I felt that we needed to be a part of it – to be a part of the story you’re telling. Helping our team understand the important role they fill in contributing to building America, that was great today.”
And while some of our new friends thought we were a little “crazy” when we first announced the tour, they embraced it. “The fact that you would commit your entire summer to promoting distribution is a huge commitment,” said Ted Stark, Division General Manager for Dalco. “So, when I saw it I just knew we had to be a part of it. I was really pleased at how our people opened up to you and shared their feelings from the heart. Our culture of family shined through. Everything we did together exceeded my expectations.”
We helped them feel like they were part of ‘Something Bigger’
When the pandemic struck, many distributors focused their efforts on helping their customers and communities survive. I asked Diane Sorenson, Marketing Director at Great Lakes Hotel Supply, to share her experience and how it affected her and her team.
Sorenson said: “I think the whole focus made everybody take a step back and say, ‘Oh, maybe we are part of something bigger than what we do on a day-to-day basis.’ We are very involved in our community. We like to give back. I think it was a chance for everyone to kind of take a step back and look at the bigger 30,000-foot view of why we’re doing what we’re doing and why it’s important.” (Read the full interview.)
Kathryn Poehling Seymour, President & CEO First Supply, agreed: “Having you stop here was an opportunity we just couldn’t pass up. … Today was about supporting my team, their dreams, and letting them see that they’re part of something bigger.”
Want to help drive the distribution industry to a brighter tomorrow? Dirk would love to make your company a stop on the tour. Each day, he will bring the We Supply America RV to different distributor locations to meet with you and your people, tour your facility and tell your story on our social channels.
Here’s your chance to be in the story of We Supply America.
Each day on the tour, I will bring the We Supply America RV to different distributor locations to create a meaningful employee experience that engages and energizes your people around the important work they do, your culture and your values. Many distributors leverage the tour stop in their marketing, recruiting and employee communications to further their mission.