On the Road with Dirk – 08.22.21

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My goodness … the world hasn’t gotten any less volatile, complex, or uncertain in the last week. What is going on in Afghanistan for instance both enrages me and hurts my heart as I see our soldiers and marines lifting children over walls, providing water, and cradling infant babies.

The men and women who are now wearing and have worn the cloth of our nation are truly something special. I think we owe them everything.

I have never served. I did stand up and run a non-profit, We Do Care, to support and thank our men and women in uniform from 2004 through 2011. It went global during that time, supporting our service members here in the states as well as in Guantanamo Bay, Germany, Saudi Arabia, at U.N. headquarters in Belgium, and in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I’m enraged at Washington. What I hear myself constantly saying to myself as I roll down the road is—“We are listening to the wrong people.”

This statement is on replay as I talk to myself—”We are listening to the wrong people.”

Washington. The pundits on the news. “We are listening to the wrong people.”

The real stories are from those with boots on the ground, or, as my friend David Griffith says, those with Muddy Boots.

And here is the thing circling back to We Supply America. The people I have been listening to these last 84 days—these are the ones with the boots on the ground.

I have learned more about what is honorable, worthy, and noble in these last 84 days than I ever could watching the news or listening to the sound bites coming out of Washington.

How do we hear the right people (and amplify their voices)? We find those voices by:

– Walking the warehouse floor and talking to a gentleman who has been on the receiving docks for 31 years … and being fulfilled as he does his job exceptionally well while also training others to spread their wings. That is noble!

– Talking to a fourth-generation owner who has no relief from the supply chain, labor shortages, this damn pandemic, and a constant flow of challenges—yet continues to do the hard and challenging work required to sustain a business that creates 500 jobs. That is noble!

– Watching a daughter working alongside her mother in the distribution center and seeing the pride they both have in each other for being trailblazers. That is noble!

Washington isn’t the story.

News pundits aren’t the story.

The story …

It’s wherever there are boots on the ground. Just follow the men and women in uniform, and you’ll find the real story.

Travel 10,300 miles over 84 days meeting with hundreds of individuals with their boots on the ground, within 30 different distribution businesses, and you’ll find the real story.

I’d love your thoughts on this.

Hill & Markes Episode Review

We visited Amsterdam, NY to film our most recent episode at Hill & Markes. They’ve been around for more than 110 years—first, they sold candy and ice cream cones—now, they’re a janitorial, industrial packing, and foodservice distributor. Talk about innovating to meet consumer needs!

This noble company stepped up during the COVID-19 pandemic, refusing to lay off employees or dock their pay. They pivoted their strategy to ensure that they could not only distribute the cleaning supplies their customers needed but also teach them how to properly clean and disinfect to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

And somehow, amidst the stress, they are still able to joke about the toilet paper shortages. (Toilet paper is one of the products they distribute, after all).

I think you’ll love this episode, and don’t forget to watch the bonus interview with CEO, Jason Packer! 

Lessons Learned: Women in Distribution

Despite technical difficulties, I was finally able to share our Women In Distribution webinar with you all. The webinar is filled with so many lessons—I learned a lot.

Hearing about the industry from the perspective of four talented female leaders really drove one main message home for me: Distribution is a human business.

These women spoke about their personal and specific experiences as women in the industry. They discussed being working mothers and balancing that with being leaders and innovators. At its foundation, these women spoke to three key ethos of distribution: purpose, people, and family. I love how we can see patterns across the industry.

The webinar reminds me of those 7 ethos that define the noble calling of distribution, the ones I have discovered over the last 84 days.

I hope you’ll find it as educational and informative as I did! 

Back on the Road

Well, we have about two weeks left of this first season of the We Supply America Tour.  As I begin to head down the Oregon and California coast towards Phoenix, I feel as if I am making a U-turn.

A big gigantic U-turn, heading back home.

But first, I have tour stops in Phoenix, Houston, and Dallas.

Thanks for following along on this journey so far, I’m glad to have you with me in this final stretch of our We Supply America 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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