It’s clear why Amazon was recently ranked second on Fortune World’s Most Admired Companies list for the fifth year in a row. I don’t think we need to list all of Amazon’s accomplishments and many contributions because you have certainly seized the business narrative for years now.
Your former boss, and founder of Amazon, used to be fond of saying: “Your margin is my opportunity.” That’s what good business people do. They look for opportunities.
And that’s what the 30,000 plus independent—many family-owned—distribution businesses across these United States of America have been doing over the last one hundred years and across two, three, and even four generations of leadership as they built America from the ground up.
And the opportunity these hardworking, risk-taking, entrepreneurial businesses seize with their margin is indeed inspiring. In fact, it’s noble.
The margin these good people create is deployed in untold ways:
- They create jobs in every city and town in this country—to the tune of six million jobs.
- They develop training programs to grow, support, and re-skill their staff, advancing them in their careers and enabling them to achieve their goals.
- They invest in their company cultures, fostering connections with their employees and creating environments of compassion and empathy that lift the human spirit.
- They invest in Internship programs to give students an extra edge as they enter the workforce.
- They donate to charitable funds, channeling support into their local community and enabling programs for children—funding the town’s little league jerseys and the referees on the soccer field—and for men and women in need—homes for battered women and homeless veterans.
- They cultivate their communities—many times, under the radar, the family owners of these businesses create family foundations to continually with heart, effort, and personal treasure make their local communities vibrant, competitive, and desired destinations, so that they remain exceptional places to live, work, and play.
But that’s not all. For decades before your founder and retired CEO moved across the country to start an online book store, it was these independent distributors that literally supplied America with everything required to build America. They have been—and are—the backbone of our country.
- Our electrical grid would not be electrified without these distributors
- Homebuilders wouldn’t be building without these distributors.
- Our first-world sanitary standards would not be first world without these distributors.
- And coming off the pandemic, it’s important to note that our healthcare workers would not have remained healthy themselves with the aid of medical and safety equipment without these distributors.
Every physical thing in our world has been touched by these distributors.
And their reach is endless. They have 415,000 locations throughout the roughly 20,000 cities, towns, and villages across this great land. There are 20 local distributors on average in every town across the country. That’s really remarkable when you think about it.
Those locations need employees. These independent businesses employ around six million professionals—warehouse associates and drivers for sure—but also data scientists, marketers, inside and outside sales, finance, operations, IT (I know this is near and dear to your heart), and every conceivable job and career opportunity young and old alike seek.
Their commitment to customers is absolutely awe-inspiring. While your former CEO brought one-click shopping to the world (thank you for that—it was and is a great innovation), these local businesses have been developing personal and business relationships that go considerably deeper than a click. They know each other beyond bits and bytes—1’s and 0’s. These distributors walk their customer’s floors, create joint business plans, and innovate and collaborate together to move this country forward. You know, Andy, they even go to the weddings of their customer’s children. And, they tell me the chicken ain’t too bad in these banquet halls!
Andy, it’s nice that Amazon added two new leadership principles days before Jeff stepped down. We applaud you for joining these multi-generational independent and local businesses in striving to be a great employer and embracing your broad responsibility. These are tenets that have been passed down for generations in these distribution businesses that built America.
Again, congratulations Andy. I know Amazon is in good hands, and I welcome you to join us in championing the noble calling of distribution.
With the greatest respect,
Executive Producer of We Supply America
PS: We would love to have you check out our We Supply America docuseries — sharing the inspirational stories of leaders and frontline employees in the distribution business that define the innovative spirit and purpose-driven cultures that Supply America.