On The Road With Dirk 07.18.21

American Dream through Distribution

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The We Supply America tour had a terrific week, and I enjoy my solitude between stops, but my wife Gail joined me on the tour this week. Having picked her up at the Harrisburg, PA airport, I informed her that her romantic husband had planned to spend our first full day together getting the toilets of the RV fixed for the third time. Who needs fancy gifts when you can show your spouse you love them by ensuring they have access to working plumbing?

All of that aside, we had a wonderful—albeit a little hectic—time. We stayed in Fancy Gap, Virginia, which has one of the nicest campgrounds I’ve visited throughout the tour. After some recuperation time and with the luxury of a working toilet, I was restless. Hanging out under a canopy of trees in small-town Virginia (and I do mean small—there are only 54 people that formally live there!) was enriching, but it was time to go. I was buzzing as I fired up the We Supply America RV. My thoughts were already on my next stop, on the We Supply America tour, and distribution in this country.

Pulling out, I was set to stop in seven different states and meet with nine different distributors over the next 13 weekdays.

Following my 60-mile drive out of Fancy Gap, I had the pleasure to meet up with the good folks of Carswell Distributing in Winston-Salem, NC. Their mission of “Driving Dealer Success” is the definition of the noble calling of distribution. It was great to speak with the employees about their role in helping mom and pop, outdoor power equipment dealers succeed during, and now after, the pandemic with the mission of driving dealer success as their north star.

From there, we drove over to Augusta, GA. Let’s just say that my attempt to pull the We Supply America RV into the Augusta National Golf Course was a big FAIL! But, at least I didn’t leave in handcuffs!

In Augusta, though, the purpose of our stop there was to meet with one of the first companies that reached out to me, KAMO. CEO Harris Weinstein and I discussed the noble role of distributors and his first impression of We Supply America. He had read about the mission and my touring the country and told his employees—“As soon as I read the first two lines, I immediately said ‘that is us’. That’s exactly who we are.”

We spent the day with his team celebrating their noble calling. I talked about my time with KAMO during our LinkedIn Live on Thursday. If you have a moment, here are two things you will want to watch using this link:

  • At the 9:20 mark, I share a quick story of how Harris and I addressed the employees during a BBQ lunch on the warehouse floor, and
  • This is cool (don’t miss this). At 12:15, I shared a conversation with Phillip, one of KAMO’s drivers, in the parking lot.

Afterward, as we were headed further east and south towards our final stop of the week at Imperial Dade in Savanna, Georgia, Gail looked over at me from the passenger seat and said, “I can’t understand why you don’t get tired.” And you know, she is right. I never tire of this. Whenever someone reaches out to inquire about meeting up, my excitement grows.

It’s the movement happening here that energizes me. This mission to highlight distribution across America has taken root in my life and the lives of industry leaders, and I can’t stop. I wake up each day excited, energized, and eager. I am witnessing how the We Supply America mission impacts people and how they share it with their communities. This is where I belong — on the road and in front of people, helping them tell their stories. 

Episode 2 Review – The Engine That Makes America Go

On Thursday we premiered our second episode of our We Supply America docuseries titled The Engine That Makes America Go, featuring Wiseway Supply.

During the film, you meet and learn from the company executives, but you also learn about leadership and distribution (and humanity) from:

Tony Collins, a Wiseway driver who was bought to tears explaining that when he had COVID, “I didn’t know if I was going to die.”

You also meet Ingrid Carrillo, a warehouse associate I spoke to through a Spanish interpreter who explained her affinity for the symbol of infinity that she wears around her neck saying “For me infinity is everything. I’m not sure how I’ve been able to achieve everything I set out to achieve.”

And you meet Alec Feagan, the 25-year-old distribution center manager who teaches me what he has learned taking and throwing punches in the boxing ring and how it applies to leadership, telling me, “The thing about talent is that everyone has talent, and I think especially in this company, we’ve got a home for every kind of talent there is.”

Here’s the thing … it is the good people of distribution like Tony, Ingrid, and Alec who are the engine that makes America go. Agree, Dirk?

Go on … right now, click here to watch this film, and I guarantee when you get back to work tomorrow, your engine will be revving just a bit more.

Lessons Learned

I’ve been reflecting a lot and learning about myself on this trip. I’m learning what motivates me. I’ve been thinking about this quote from Grant Cardone:

“You don’t get burnout —you lose purpose! You lose your meaning. When I’m tired, I look at my purpose.”

I have experienced it on the road, meeting with distributors all over the USA. But it isn’t just me—I see it in all of you. When this mission started, there was an element of it that was tied to Covid-19 and how this already vital field took on even more responsibility as the needs of Americans grew exponentially overnight. I’ll be honest, I was expecting to see burnt-out people. But what I’ve found is energy and passion. Brenda Belcher from Imperial Dade said, “I love to hear the passion in people’s voices when they talk about what they do. I think that’s what motivates us to be unconventional.” 

Each distribution company I’ve visited has this electricity in the air, and I’ve come to realize that it is purpose—this understanding that you are doing something noble, above and beyond just a “job.” Each company plays a different part in this greater mission. We need distributors to power our electricity, to prepare our meals, to build our homes, and—hey, to set up the plumbing to our toilets.

“I think the patriotic piece of it and the celebrating the contribution we make to this country resonates with our employees,” Will Parsley from Carswell Distributing Company explained.

It’s all necessary, and each company is a different piece of the puzzle. 

Back On The Road

As you read this, Dirk, I am back on the road again … where I belong.

I had a nice 36-hour visit with my parents in Palm Coast, Florida this weekend, pulling out at 5:00 AM this morning heading west for more We Supply America tour stops this week.

Speaking of my parents – did you see this message from my mother in front of the We Supply America RV?  I’m not sure I agree with her when she says of me, “He’s always been a little different.”  But, mothers do know best, as they say! 

More updates about this week will be coming your way, Dirk, as we have an inspired week in front of We Supply America. I appreciate you being an important part of this championing the noble calling of the distribution movement.

For now … enjoy that cup of coffee in your hand and have a GREAT Sunday! I’ll see you on the road!

Thank you for being the ‘standard bearer’ for all of us in this great industry.

Brian Tuohey, CEO of The Collins Companies

Infor is proud to be a Sponsor-Partner of the We Supply America tour in partnership with Dirk Beveridge and UnleashWD. Infor is a global leader in business cloud software specialized by industry, with a special focus on wholesale distribution. We use data-driven insights to solve emerging industry challenges and provide our customers with the modern tools they need to innovate and transform their businesses.

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