On the Road with Dirk – 08.15.21

We Supply America RV

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Twelve weeks ago today, I packed the We Supply America RV, pulled out of my home in Barrington, IL, and began the We Supply America tour. Since then, I’ve traveled 10,000 miles and visited over 20 different distribution companies in more than 10 different states. I’ve met with countless company leaders and employees, given hugs, shaken hands, laughed, cried, and—most importantly—celebrated the noble calling of distribution.

It’s been an incredible journey so far. In many ways, we have already achieved our mission—even though the tour isn’t over yet—because we have supported and encouraged distributors across the country and highlighted their important work. I am so proud of what we have accomplished and inspired by the amount of love and support you have all given me this summer. And the tour isn’t over.

But I need to be honest with you; I’m tired. I’ve had people joke that I’m the Energizer Bunny, and it’s true—I’m a must-be-moving type of guy, but even the Energizer Bunny gets tired.

It’s funny; we often think that if you’re doing work you’re passionate about, contributing to an important mission, and enjoying the everyday elements of the job, you won’t get tired. That’s just not true. This is my passion, but I’m a little tired this week. It isn’t just exhaustion, though there is some of that. Part of it is just being away from home, being away from my wife and kids.

So I took a four-day sabbatical. Four days off with my family to rest, recuperate and reenergize so that I can finish out this tour strong.

My wife and daughter flew in from Chicago to join our son and his girlfriend at their mountain home in Evergreen, CO, just outside of Denver. Spending time with family is exactly what I needed, and it made me think: it’s so important to have family (biological or not) on our individual journeys. It’s something we’ve seen in this entire We Supply America process. People rely on family-owned businesses and family-based culture because there is something about building a support system that understands when you need a leg up.

These first two days have been outstanding.  Connecting in the mountains, cooking meals together, a few hikes on the beautiful trails, and yes, an IPA or two.  But I also have to tell you my mind is already on Tuesday afternoon when I’ll pull back out.  I’m ready to throw myself back into championing this noble cause.

Here comes the We Supply America tour Denver, Portland, Scottsdale, Houston, and Dallas!

Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Episode Review – Where Legacy and Innovation Meet

The fifth episode of We Supply America premiered on Thursday, and it began with courage. Courage is what Marc Israel, the owner of Great Lakes, said was one of the foundational components of their success. It means taking a risk and getting outside of your comfort zone, and Marc takes those risks.

He told me a story about a business he acquired that wasn’t making money. He took the risk of giving every employee a raise—even with a company that hadn’t yet moved into the black—to show his commitment and investment to his staff and, as a result, those employees grew in their commitment to the success of the company.

According to Dave Hubbard, Chief Operations Officer, Marc is a textbook visionary—someone who sees things that others don’t see. Marc leans into those insights and instincts, to find the right talent and build strong and dedicated teams.
The team, according to Dave, is so integral to the company. During the Covid-19 pandemic, it was the “cohesive, functional, and healthy team” that empowered the company and gave them the fortitude to move forward. “You need your teammates around you to pick you back up and tell you that everything is going to be alright.” And this team has truly banded together.

“I felt extraordinarily blessed to belong to a place that, they never even talked about laying people off.” Project Coordinator Shannon Berndt explained. She believes that when you and your team feel supported, you work differently. “We went through an entire pandemic never questioning if we were going to get a paycheck, never questioning if we were going to be taken care of, they were extraordinarily supportive.” And Great Lakes extends this type of support and personalized care to their customers as well, leading to numerous repeat customers and strong collaboration and loyalty—this is their “bread and butter” and the business model that continues to elevate Great Lakes to success.

I feel so honored to have been welcomed in by Great Lakes—from sipping on a Gibson mixed and poured by Bar Program Manager Carrie Floyd (voted top bartender in Detroit for 2021!) to strolling the Great Lakes gardens (voted best wedding venue of the year!) with Marc Israel—this company is the pinnacle of success, and it is powered by a team that is cohesive and empowered by their love for each other, their customers, and the country at large.

This episode is sure to give you some inspiration and enthusiasm going into Monday morning. 

Inspired By…

Is there any better way to be inspired than to have a conversation with like-minded individuals about something you’re passionate about—with beautiful views of nature, no less?

Well, last weekend, I was sitting in the St. James Hotel in Redwing, MN, with the leadership team and board of directors at Dakota Supply Group. With the Mississippi river in view, we had this incredibly thought-provoking and inspiring conversation about the exponential change in our industry.

Dakota Supply Group, an employee-owned company, has been transforming our industry with the sheer magnitude of its brand. They have locations across five states, with multiple branches and hundreds of employees. I was genuinely impressed and encouraged by their deep thinking. They facilitated challenging and collaborative conversations, all with innovation and continued growth in mind. Their focus was sustainability and profitability for their employee-owners—what a topic!

They hit the nail on the head when discussing the nuances and intricacies of distribution in the time of Covid and with our rapidly digitized world. These are key focuses of the industry as a whole. We have faced incredible odds in the last years, and we’ve also taken on incredible degrees of innovation. Sustainability and profitability will keep us in business for years to come. 

Lessons: Take Care of Yourself

Like I said at the beginning of this newsletter, our health is everything.

At the one-year mark of COVID, I wrote out ten lessons I had learned.  With my taking this four-day sabbatical, it was a good reminder of the third lesson I shared. So I share it with you as well:

When you have your health, you can strive to achieve many goals. When you’ve lost your health, you only have one goal. Read that sentence again.

Mind, body, and spirit.

Of course, when we talk about health, we focus on the body. That COVID 15 didn’t help any of us. These last 8760 hours, however, have also taught us a thing or two about our mental health and the health of that inner spirit that guides us forward.

And like America itself seemingly so strong and vibrant yet in reality just a fragile idea, we have learned that as strong as we have thought our mind, it too has its fragility. It needs to be worked, cared for, and exercised to remain strong.

Our inner spirits, too, need to be constantly cared for. When we can no longer visit our places of worship, attend the concerts and festivals that lifted us, travel to the awe-inspiring national and state parks … when we are isolated, socially distanced, under unending strain due to family and work disruptions, our spirits become dulled.

Your health really is everything—mind, body, and spirit.

Reflection: What habits and practices do I need to build in daily to be physically fit, mentally strong, and spiritually enlightened?

One More Thing

Tomorrow morning, Industrial Distribution is publishing an episode called 5 Minutes With ID. The episode features an interview that I did with their Managing Editor Mike Hockett. It features We Supply America and the noble calling of distribution. I hope you’ll take a look! 

Back on the Road

I’m looking forward to Tuesday to get the We Supply America Tour back on the road! On Wednesday, I’m heading first to Denver to General Air Service & Supply and then making the 1,250-mile drive to Portland, Oregon, to visit Consolidated Supply. What a GREAT three days to restart the last three weeks of the tour!

Thank you to our sponsors

Infor is proud to be a Gold Sponsor 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.

Proton is proud to be a Gold Sponsor of the We Supply America tour in partnership with Dirk Beveridge and UnleashWD. Proton’s innovative artificial intelligence platform provides turn-by-turn directions for sales reps that sell various products by telling them which customers to talk with, when, and about what through our intuitive web app.

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As Dirk crosses the country this summer, stay up to date on all the We Supply America happenings. We’ll be sure to remind you when the episodes begin to air this July. You won’t want to miss any!