Show cover of Distribution Talk

Distribution Talk

Dive into the stories, struggles, and solutions from business owners and thought leaders in the wholesale distribution market.

Tracks

Boosting Margins and Optimizing Inventory Control Via AI With Nelson Valderrama of Intuilize
Hollywood loves to cast artificial intelligence as the villain. In reality, AI is more likely to win best supporting character accolades from those in the c-suite, says Nelson Valderrama, founder of Intuilize, the AI-driven firm specializing in helping distributors use analytics to optimize pricing, purchasing, and inventory management.  Jason chats with Nelson about AI’s ability to sift through reams of data to unlock profitability, strengthen B2B relationships, and enhance employee productivity, not overtake humans. If only folks in senior distribution roles embraced the tech as readily as their Millennial and GenZ team members, says Nelson, they too would realize the transformative power of AI. Nelson has 25+ years of experience in Latin America and the United States, beginning his career with GE, then moving to GE Capital before seeking opportunities with smaller, more agile companies. All the while, he maintained his fondness for distributors.  “What I found out about all owners is that they have really good instincts. I'm not saying all the time it’s right, but typically it’s quite fine-tuned.” CONNECT WITH JASON LinkedIn CONNECT WITH NELSON LinkedIn *** For full show notes and services visit: https://www.distributionteam.com Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.  This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.  Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: INxSQL Distribution Software, integrated distribution ERP software designed for the wholesale and distribution industry
44:53 10/05/2022
Outsourcing Delivery, Increasing Profits With Matt Lafferty Of Curri
On-demand local delivery isn’t just for burgers or beer. Matt Lafferty turned a remodeling project a-ha! moment into Curri, a nationwide all-in-one logistics platform best described as the Uber of construction supplies. Jason chats with Curri’s energetic co-founder and CEO about the company’s serendipitous start, impressive growth, and cost-effective delivery solutions for building materials distributors.  Curri is a network of on-demand delivery drivers with appropriate vehicles (think: lift gates, flatbeds, bobtails) that could pick up and deliver materials wherever, whenever needed. Today, Curri operates in 49 states, making a delivery every 10 seconds. Each shipment comes with the same tech-driven features that the biggest names in e-commerce rely on, like live tracking and digital proof of delivery. Matt’s vision has proven so effective that many distributors have replaced in-house delivery fleets with Curri’s on-demand platform, saving hefty operating costs. “We have a lot of distributors that are literally selling off their trucks and just using Curri because they're making more sales. They're not taking on the risk and the insurance for moving supplies and materials.” CONNECT WITH JASON LinkedIn CONNECT WITH MATT LinkedIn *** Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals. This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.  For full show notes and services visit: https://www.distributionteam.com Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: Connected Peers, connecting key employees in distribution's leading organizations.
37:17 09/07/2022
Resisting Predictability, Embracing Entrepreneurship with Jeff Peterson of Geneva Supply AND Interstate Music
If entrepreneurs are known for marching to a different beat, then Jeff Peterson is an improvisational maestro. DT fans may remember Jason’s conversation with the CEO of Geneva Supply in episode 21, in which the two discussed growing and expanding that company’s footprint. And did he ever! Just as that business started to get predictable, Jeff stumbled upon his next entrepreneurial challenge: Interstate Music. The opportunity to turn around a 75-year-old music retailer proved irresistible, and Jeff went all in — even though the company languished in bankruptcy and the world paused for a pandemic. He applied his extensive e-com knowledge and a lifelong affinity for live music to a new entrepreneurial challenge and has never once regretted taking on that challenge. While the purchase agreement included Interstate Music Supply’s catalog of intellectual property, Jeff astutely excluded the company’s physical inventory and brick-and-mortar footprint: The revamp opened Interstate up to new avenues for attracting customers and building brand loyalty. “There's big competitors out there that have been doing e-commerce music for a long time and doing it really well,” he says. “However, they're not selling to Amazon, they're not helping a manufacturer sell on a different platform in a different way. So that’s our niche to them.”  CONNECT WITH JASON LinkedIn CONNECT WITH JEFF LinkedIn *** For full show notes and services visit: https://www.distributionteam.com Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.    This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.  Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: INxSQL Distribution Software, integrated distribution ERP software designed for the wholesale and distribution industry.
51:09 08/31/2022
Cultivating A Global Growth Mindset To Support HVACR Distributors with HARDI Mexico’s Guitze Messina
“I like to say that I was able to put the dot on the “I” of HARDI, which is international,” laughs Guitze Messina.  When HARDI, the premiere HVACR distribution association in North America, decided to expand its membership into Mexico, they tasked Guitze with the job. Jason chats with the dynamic executive director of HARDI Mexico about surpassing the organization’s boldest growth projections and fostering greater support for the two-step distribution model across Central America, South America, and Europe. In Guitze’s five years at the helm, the organization has made tremendous headway within the Mexican market (signing on 70 members) and prompting interest from other Latin American countries. Guitze’s commitment to the Mexican HVACR industry is evident in how he speaks of its future. “Besides being successful, we also want to pass on a legacy. We want the Mexican market to change.” But why stop there? Guitze and HARDI are poised to realize ambitious goals, bringing the tenets of networking, education, and business development to HVACR distributors worldwide. CONNECT WITH JASON LinkedIn CONNECT WITH GUITZE LinkedIn Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: Profit2, helping distributors charge the right price. *** For full show notes and services, visit: https://www.distributionteam.com Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.    This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.
41:12 08/10/2022
Fostering Innovation Through Transparency with John Cain of Wiseway Supply
Privately held distributors often stifle growth by confining information to the C-suite. John Cain, president of Wiseway Supply, a plumbing and electrical supplier based out of the Greater Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky area, is passionate about sharing intelligence with folks inside his organization and out. Jason chats with John about transparency as a precursor to innovation, the value of external perspectives, and punching above the company’s weight class.  John can thank his outside experience for Wiseway’s success. After college, he opted for a stint with Proctor & Gamble rather than a job in the family biz. That opportunity informed his willingness to consider perspectives beyond Wiseway’s walls. For example, while the company is proud of its track record for promoting from within, outside hires are essential. Their DNA sparks creativity that ignites the entire organization.  Everyone within Wiseway contributes to the game plan; nothing is hidden. John: “[Branch managers] get the whole P and L. They see everything from top to bottom instead of the blind being asked to blindly lead the company.” CONNECT WITH JASON LinkedIn CONNECT WITH JOHN LinkedIn *** Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.    This episode was edited & mixed by *** For full show notes and services visit: https://www.distributionteam.com Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.    This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.    https://www.distributionteam.com Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: INxSQL Distribution Software, integrated distribution ERP software designed for the wholesale and distribution industry. *** For full show notes and services visit: https://www.distributionteam.com
33:52 07/06/2022
Look Beyond Your Business Itinerary To Roads Less Traveled
When was the last time curiosity got the better of you on a business trip? In this rare solo episode, Jason explores roads less traveled. Literally. The world has reopened. Airports are busier than ever. Calling on clients is what business travel is all about, but is there room in your schedule for unexpected experiences?  It doesn’t take much (if any) planning to get off the beaten path for a few hours, as Jason discovered on a recent trip to Salt Lake City. When a wonky gap in the schedule left him with some time to kill, he had two choices: head to his hotel room or let a Google Map suggestion lead him in a completely serendipitous direction. The following day, when Jason mentioned the excursion to his client, she shared with him a website (and podcast) that lists many such hidden gems: Atlas Obscura. For those unfamiliar with Atlas Obscura, think of it as a virtual concierge with suggestions for weird and wonderful experiences worldwide.  There’s probably a business metaphor connected to Jason’s pedal-to-the-metal experience out on the Flats. Instead, he’s content to keep the lesson literal for now. “You know, this little Google Map suggestion totally opened my eyes, and it reminded me that there are some really cool things in the world.”  Make time for wonder on your next business trip. MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE Atlas Obscura Bonneville Salt Flats Bonneville Speedway The Palmer House *** Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: Connected Peers, connecting key employees in distribution's leading organizations. For full show notes and services visit: http://www.distributionteam.com Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.    This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.
19:33 06/29/2022
How Master Wholesalers Drive Channel Optimization and Increase Distributor Profits with Larry Davis of AgoNow, LLC
The last few years have tested even the strongest links in our supply chains. Increasingly, master wholesalers have stepped in to reinforce weakened networks, acting as inventory buffers and partners in category optimization. Larry Davis, CEO and founder of AgoNow LLC, chats with Jason about his role as an industrial master wholesaler and channel solutions provider.  Master distribution was born out of market inefficiencies, giving distributors access to extensive inventories without needing to meet the high minimums set by many brands and manufacturers. Master distributors take on the risks associated with those transactions, so distributors are free to order only what they need.  “This market is in the middle of a major shift that's going to change the face of it dramatically, and it's going to require all of us to pivot multiple times,” says Larry, adding that gone are the days of if you have it in stock, customers will come calling. He cites Amazon as an example of a highly efficient ecosystem that should act as a wake-up call.  Master wholesalers like AgoNow are driving innovation, shortening lead times, managing multiple manufacturer relationships, and advising distributors with market knowledge so they can adapt more quickly to customer trends. CONNECT WITH JASON LinkedIn CONNECT WITH LARRY LinkedIn Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: HMI Performance Incentives, providing innovative, data-driven B2B incentive solutions. *** For full show notes and services visit: http://www.distributionteam.com Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.    This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios. 
41:35 06/08/2022
The Local-Global Advantages of Government Contracts with Rick Lamb of Frank’s Supply
Government contracts aren’t for the faint of heart. Rick Lamb, marketing manager with Frank’s Supply in Albuquerque, NM, understands the arduous truth of that statement better than most. Jason chats with Rick about the complexities inherent to General Services Administration (GSA) certification and why it might make sense for other suppliers to jump through those hoops. When Frank’s found itself in a position to bid for its first government contract in 1996 for Los Alamos National Lab, Rick found himself in the thick of it. “We had never even attempted something like that,” he says, but two Frank’s employees who knew just enough about GSAs to convince the company to put together a bid.  Nine months later, Frank’s phone rang. “It was Christmas Eve, 1996. We get a call from the head of purchasing at Los Alamos, and they go, ‘Be ready to start the contract April 1st.’” Frank’s first scramble was on.  While the bid timeline has shortened somewhat since the mid-90s, other aspects, like authentication and security clearance, have grown increasingly rigorous. Vendors must detail every level of the contract’s implementation, from the level of support to chain of responsibility to security clearances and  quality assurance programs, But is the GSA route profitable?  CONNECT WITH JASON LinkedIn CONNECT WITH RICK LinkedIn Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: INxSQL Distribution Software, integrated distribution ERP software designed for the wholesale and distribution industry. *** For full show notes and services visit: http://www.distributionteam.com Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.    This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios. 
41:04 06/01/2022
Recruitment, Retention, and Culture: Building from a Strong Foundation with Dick and Jordan Bader, Acme Construction Supply
Welcome back for part 2 with the Bader boys, Jason’s in-depth look at his family’s distribution business with patriarch and founder of Acme Construction Supply Co, Inc., Dick Bader, and younger brother Jordan, the company’s current president and CEO. As they wrap up their visit,  Dick and Jordan reveal the fundamental principles that have supported Acme’s thriving culture and growth initiatives. They also share their motivations for and the rewards of trade organization participation. Anyone involved in a family business knows that it's often a thin line between circus and success. One of the factors keeping the C-suite from devolving into a three-ring spectacle is an owner or leader who surrounds themselves with folks who can augment the skills or talents that they lack. Once the people are in place, a critical next step is for the owner or leader to yield control.  When Jordan purchased the company in 2008, he began thinking about how to fill company roles vacated by retirement with his own team of next-generation leaders. First, he turned to folks outside his industry who might help Acme expand. Then he promoted star talent from within. Now Jordan’s broadening his industry’s appeal beyond its typically male-dominated workforce, fostering an environment where women and the LGBTQIA+ community feel welcomed. While the continued evolution of Acme’s culture is vital to him personally, he says what matters most is that these shifts result from his employees' influence. MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE DT100: Celebrating 100 Episodes! Legacy and Leadership with Dick and Jordan Bader of Acme Construction Supply DT096: Amplifying Company Culture to Attract and Retain Top Talent with Bill Condron, The Granite Group Young Presidents’ Organization STAFDA Evergreen Marketing Group CONNECT WITH JASON LinkedIn CONNECT WITH JORDAN LinkedIn Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: Moblico, helping businesses do more business on mobile devices. *** For full show notes and services visit: http://www.distributionteam.com Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.    This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios. 
32:12 05/25/2022
Celebrating 100 Episodes! Legacy and Leadership with Dick and Jordan Bader of Acme Construction Supply
Milestones are a part of the distribution business and, as it turns out, podcasting. What better way to celebrate Distribution Talk’s 100th episode than with a combo of sorts––equal parts company case study and oral history. Jason corrals family patriarch and founder of Acme Construction Supply Co, Inc., Dick Bader, and little brother Jordan, current president and CEO, for an insider’s look at the family business. Like all epic tales, this one comes complete with plot twists, sibling rivalry (of the genial kind), and a cliffhanger.  “I'll admit, the first time I saw you speak right after you left Acme, I was pretty sure we were saving a seat for you back at Acme,” Jordan jokes. When Jason exited the family business over a decade ago for the “greener pastures” of consulting, he eventually cleared a path for Jordan to lead Acme. Both Bader boys have their father to thank for their successes, having watched Dick navigate the often choppy waters of entrepreneurship.  Dick weighed hefty considerations as he brought both of his sons into Acme. Legacy. Boundaries. Balance. No matter how thoughtful an entry or succession plan, there will be stumbles along the way. And successes more profound than any bottom lines. “Dad, as you brought us into the business, you showed continuity, and you showed this stability for our employees that, you know, I still have,” says Jordan.   Stay tuned for part two! CONNECT WITH JASON LinkedIn CONNECT WITH JORDAN LinkedIn *** For full show notes and services visit: http://www.distributionteam.com Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.    This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.  Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: Profit2.
33:25 05/18/2022
Meet Next Gen Customers Where They Are Via Mobile Engagement With Pierre Barbeau of Moblico Solutions
Customer messaging has always been a numbers race––and distributors that use 21st-century strategies to connect with and convert their target markets occupy pole position. Pierre Barbeau, president and co-founder of Moblico Solutions, says it's never too late to implement a mobile engagement plan specific to your vertical. Jason caught up with Pierre to discuss adding value to inbound and outbound activities for independent distributors via mobile app communication. Pierre’s genius is in translating Moblico’s complex services into terms (and numbers) his clientele can relate to and utilize.  Moblico products like targeted broadcast messaging, custom app development, and automated notifications establish lines of communication and create new channels by which companies can gather intel. Sales data and survey responses, for example, can inform improvements to internal protocols, thus better serving the customer.  In-house productivity, too, can benefit from Moblico solutions. Think human resources activities and sales team endeavors.  Mobile notifications come in various forms (text messages, and push notifications to name a few) and are sent either manually or via automation. Moblico offers strategies that integrate its mobile messaging apps with a client’s existing ERP and E-commerce platforms for the smartest reach.  Regardless of how you may feel when a targeted ad or text crosses your path, studies show that younger professionals prefer mobile engagement over traditional forms of communication––and they’re your future customers. It’s beyond time to meet them where they live: on mobile. MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE Moblie Matters Podcast CONNECT WITH JASON LinkedIn CONNECT WITH PIERRE LinkedIn *** For full show notes and services visit: http://www.distributionteam.com Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.    This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.  Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: Connected Peers, connecting key employees in distribution's leading organizations.
38:00 05/11/2022
Leveraging Legacy and Continual Learning with Jessica Yurgaitis of Industrial Supply Company
The past is always present at Industrial Supply Company, thanks to a treasure trove of historical documents dating back to 1915. While the Utah-based company’s 106-year heritage is impressive, Jessica Yurgaitis has no intention of dwelling in the dust of the organization’s bygone era, even if the history major in her loves posting those old handwritten letters and sales slips. Jason chats with this fourth-generation president about balancing respect for family legacy with a desire to launch the company into a thoroughly modern future.  Initially, Jessica wanted no part in Industrial; she wanted a Master’s in history instead. But advanced degrees cost money, so she went to work. In purchasing, Jessica learned business basics: meeting with suppliers, building relationships, and executing marketing and co-branding strategies. Moving through each department at Industrial taught Jessica how to strengthen relationships. “I feel like I have a wonderful network of people,” she says of her participation in associations like ISA. “I could pick up the phone anytime and call, and they'd be willing to give me time and help me work through an issue. And I do that all the time.”  She applies that same humility when the conversation turns to younger team members. Jessica has wisely surrounded herself with folks whose “digital native” skill sets complement her historical organizational knowledge. Leveraging legacy, leaning into growth. Jessica’s got the balance right at Industrial Supply. CONNECT WITH JASON LinkedIn CONNECT WITH JESSICA LinkedIn *** For full show notes and services visit: http://www.distributionteam.com Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.    This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.  Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: INxSQL Distribution Software, integrated distribution ERP software designed for the wholesale and distribution industry.
40:16 05/04/2022
Maintaining Consistency and Camaraderie During a Transition in Ownership with Ben Whitlock Of Mobile Fixture
Continuity is an underappreciated aspect of ownership transition. Ben Whitlock, president of Mobile Fixture, a kitchen and restaurant supply wholesaler based in Mobile, AL, followed that game plan to the letter when he and three partners bought out the company's longtime owner.  Jason caught up with Ben to discuss drafting a protracted transition process into the buyout deal, maintaining organization-wide confidence throughout the pandemic, and succeeding in the crowded hospitality space. Ben and his three partners, all members of the senior leadership team since approximately 2017, entered into a sale agreement with Mobile's longtime second-generation owner Walne Donald five years ago. But rather than pushing Walne out immediately, they wrote him into their purchase agreement.  In addition to Walne staying on as majority owner, Ben and his partners were adamant about forgoing private equity. The team believed in the organization's inherent family philosophy and didn't want to tinker with it too much. That holistic approach to company culture served the organization well, especially during the pandemic. With no customers to sell to, Mobile closed its showroom and warehouses for several weeks to refresh and reorganize. That time together proved to be an excellent, if unplanned, team-building exercise. Now that the transition switch has finally flipped, Ben and the team are ready to tackle post-pandemic challenges like supply chain issues and inflation. CONNECT WITH JASON LinkedIn CONNECT WITH BEN LinkedIn *** For full show notes and services visit: http://www.distributionteam.com Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.    This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.  Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: HMI Performance Incentives, providing innovative, data-driven B2B incentive solutions.
38:24 04/27/2022
Amplifying Company Culture to Attract and Retain Top Talent with Bill Condron, The Granite Group
Want to know the secret to promoting a vibrant, growth-oriented company culture? Forget about the pingpong table in the breakroom. Bill Condron, CEO of Boston-based The Granite Group, says it starts with doing right by your associates and customers––even when no one’s watching.  Jason chats with Bill about his approach to bottom-up employee engagement, his company’s aggressive expansion strategy, and striking the balance between healthy growth and sound culture. Bill’s broader belief is that Granite’s enviable reputation as a service- and innovation-oriented supplier is shaped by the staffers who typically get relegated to the middle or bottom of org charts at other companies: pickers, branch managers, and truck drivers.  Maintaining Granite’s culture isn’t a hands-off endeavor. The company’s yearly calendar boasts quarterly meetings, branch dinners, and town halls.  The company has done an excellent job amplifying its culture to attract top talent, back-fill positions vacated by promotion and appeal to a demographic that this industry has traditionally ignored: women.  “It's not perceived [as] welcoming or open or a place where women can be successful. That's absolutely false,” says Bill.  Granite boasts a finance team led by women and women-led branches as well. “If you’re able to do that, you're going to up your success by a factor of many.” CONNECT WITH JASON LinkedIn CONNECT WITH BILL LinkedIn Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.    *** For full show notes and services visit: http://www.distributionteam.com Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.    This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.  http://www.distributionteam.com Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: Moblico, helping businesses do more business on mobile devices.
38:16 04/20/2022
Fostering Association Engagement With Molly Alton Mullins of SEVEN12 Management
Associations have long touted in-person events as a critical benefit of membership. However, in the wake of the pandemic, folks have grown more discerning about their time––and what they do with it. Molly Alton Mullins, CEO of SEVEN12 Management, helps these organizations amplify their impact through innovative engagement. Jason chats with Molly about how her company enhanced its value proposition during the live event hiatus, the dynamic interpersonal changes taking place as conferences resume, and inspiring long-term membership involvement. The Midwest in March isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time. Still, after two years of Zoom meetings, Molly couldn’t wait for the in-real-life conversation and collaboration at this year’s University of Distribution Innovation event. “It was great to get close to 600 distributors all together in a room, learning from each other, all different industries but essentially the same types of challenges, the same types of opportunities.” There’s no question that digital platforms helped most people maintain connections during the pandemic, but the community really thrives when that face-to-face happens in the same space. “On-site, the relationships that you make there, they're that much more intense,” Molly says.  Molly is well-versed at fostering environments in which interaction flourishes. She spent time in the political fundraising arena and government affairs, honing her strategic-minded, relationship-focused perspective. Since coming to SEVEN12 in 2016, she’s applied that approach to grow the company’s portfolio, expanding its menu of benefits and services and extending its expertise to verticals as diverse as distribution and mental health professionals. Regardless of industry, Molly says association members want the same thing from their experience: “They want the opportunities to do workshops and hear from their peers and learn facts and things like that.” Members also crave in-person exchanges. “They want to engage, and they want to touch and feel and laugh and love and do all those sorts of things because they don't ever want to lose it again.” As safety precautions lift and conferences ramp up, Molly says it’ll take more than the status quo to entice folks to sign up for association membership. “It's great to learn a great story, but people want more than that,” she says, especially if they’re attending a destination event. People rightly demand more meaningful interactions now, whether through workforce development, mentorship, or peer-to-peer connection. Molly and her team are poised to deliver on those expectations.  MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE University of Innovative Distribution CONNECT WITH JASON LinkedIn CONNECT WITH MOLLY LinkedIn *** For full show notes and services visit: http://www.distributionteam.com Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.    This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.  Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: Profit2.
34:22 04/13/2022
Creating a Culture of Innovation with Jameel Burkett, Burkett Restaurant Equipment And Supply
Visionary leaders chart a course to the C-suite with layovers in multiple departments, creating a culture of innovation throughout their organization along the way. Jason chats with Jameel Burkett, president and CEO of Burkett Restaurant Equipment & Supply in Toledo, OH, about supporting the pursuit of growth and learning, giving back to the industry through association advocacy, and revitalizing his family business amidst a global crisis. His passion for the food service supply industry is palpable, but he admits it wasn't always so. Like many next-generation owners, Jameel didn't think the family biz would satisfy his entrepreneurial aspirations. Twenty years later, he leads in an environment where the "intrapreneurial" spirit thrives. Jameel believes in the pursuit of growth and learning beyond Burkett. He returned to school in 2012 to complete his master's degree and further honed his leadership skills with Vistage executive coaching. It's his membership in FEDA, however, that has provided the most support, especially as the hospitality industry bore the brunt of COVID's many challenges. "I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for all the great people in our industry that took me under their wing when I was a young guy coming out of college, wanting to conquer the world." MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE The Hard Thing About Hard Things - by Ben Horowitz CONNECT WITH JASON LinkedIn CONNECT WITH JAMEEL LinkedIn *** For full show notes and services visit: http://www.distributionteam.com Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.    This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.  Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: INxSQL Distribution Software, integrated distribution ERP software designed for the wholesale and distribution industry.
33:15 04/06/2022
Building a Strong Organization Through Faith-Based Leadership with Troy Meachum, ACR Supply Co.
Troy Meachum of ACR Supply isn’t afraid to share his religious beliefs. While some might consider such transparency a recipe for disaster, ACR’s chief encouragement officer makes a case for sincere faith-based leadership. Jason chats with Troy about integrating his religious convictions into everyday operations and how those beliefs have impacted employee morale, customer satisfaction, and the company’s bottom line. In fact, ACR has grown its revenue from $3m in 1997 to over $33m this past year. Perhaps it comes down to geography. While many business owners north of the Mason-Dixon line keep their religious beliefs private, those headquartered in the American South tend to be more transparent about their faith––on company websites, at branch locations, and in conversation. ACR Supply, which makes its home in Raleigh, NC, proves the point. Faith, says Troy, is the foundation upon which his personal and professional success rests. There’s no compartmentalizing the two.  Troy lives his faith with intention, whether by engaging with fellow HARDI members or championing initiatives through ACR Cares, his company’s outreach organization.  “I'm 60 years old, actually 61 on Friday, and I'm really starting to hit my stride just from a ministry perspective,” he says, looking ahead and placing his faith squarely in the future. *** CONNECT WITH JASON LinkedIn CONNECT WITH TROY LinkedIn For full show notes and services visit: http://www.distributionteam.com Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.    This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.  Brought to you by The Distribution Team and Connected Peers.
28:21 03/23/2022
Success And Social Responsibility In The Cannabis Industry with Joy Hudson, Nimble Distribution
Whether you call it pot, grass, marijuana or nothing at all, it's impossible to ignore the cannabis industry's rapid transition from undercover operation to legitimate vertical, one with more conflicting regulatory statutes and distribution challenges than possibly any other. Joy Hudson, founder and CEO of Nimble Distribution in Portland, OR, parlayed her success in the traditional medical supply arena into a thriving cannabis distributorship, all while balancing profits with social impact. Jason chats with Joy about professionalizing the industry, advocating for better legislative considerations, and lending direct support to communities devastated by harmful drug policies of the past. Joy's logistics and sales expertise proved a perfect fit for a business on the brink of stratospheric growth. She and her business partner Marissa Rodriguez have built Nimble, a for-profit company with major social impact credentials. Their innovative strategies include second-chance employment opportunities and reparations-focused initiatives. By marrying a professional ethos with holistic community awareness, Nimble is securing its place at the vanguard of cannabis distribution. MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE Weeds Oregon Retailers of Cannabis Association NuProject CONNECT WITH JASON LinkedIn CONNECT WITH JOY LinkedIn Nimble *** Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.    This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.  http://www.distributionteam.com Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: INxSQL Distribution Software, integrated distribution ERP software designed for the wholesale and distribution industry.
44:13 03/09/2022
Succession Strategies Beyond The C-Suite With Jim Daniels Of Mid-State Sales
Having trouble finding a candidate to take over once you've left the business for good? You needn't confine succession planning to family members or fellow C-suite occupants.  Jim Daniels, president and chief operating officer of Mid-State Sales in Columbus, OH, says the key to a successful strategy is to consider rising stars both in and outside your organization. Jason speaks with Jim about creating a succession roadmap for every key role and mentoring talent to take those positions forward. At Mid-State, Jim's following a similar blueprint to the one that brought him into leadership, providing an environment in which Mid-State's 80 employees spread across the company's four branches can excel. Attracting top talent means providing candidates with a clearly defined path forward.     And even top talent requires training. More specifically, mentoring. The difference, says Jim, is profound. In many ways, training is a one-way experience; this is how you do x-y-z. On the other hand, mentoring is a give-and-take exercise––and it's the key to successful succession planning.  Succession doesn't always mean ownership or presidency. A distributor can mentor talent to fill many roles within the company, paving the way for continued health and prosperity of the entire organization.  CONNECT WITH JASON LinkedIn CONNECT WITH JIM DANIELS Mid-State Sales *** For full show notes and services visit: http://www.distributionteam.com Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.    This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.  Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: HMI Performance Incentives, providing innovative, data-driven B2B incentive solutions.
38:20 03/02/2022
Beyond Buzzwords: Activating Your Company Culture with Diane Dye Hansen, What Works Consultants, Inc
Want to optimize talent, foster innovation, and inspire loyalty amongst your staff? Diane Dye Hansen, chief management consultant at What Works Consultants, Inc., says the secret begins and ends with your company culture. Too often, however, companies settle for buzzwords rather than developing a vision statement with input from all. Diane joins Jason to discuss cultivating a healthy, productive work environment using research and data-driven assessment tools. She also shares one exercise guaranteed to help organizations define authentic company culture for themselves.  Companies committed to recalibrating organizational integrity can begin by asking their employees to complete the following statement: The way we work around here is… The answers are often revelatory. From diagnosing internal struggles to highlighting opportunities for innovation, this simple ask can transform company culture for the better––and the future. Action-oriented, inclusive company culture goes further in securing and keeping quality employees than words emblazoned on a lobby wall. MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE The Predictive Index Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don't CONNECT WITH JASON LinkedIn CONNECT WITH DIANE What Works Consultants, Inc. *** For full show notes and services visit: http://www.distributionteam.com Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.    This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios. 
44:56 02/23/2022
Partnering with a Credit Union for Commercial Lending with Mark Ritter, Nu Direction Lending
If you haven’t considered a credit union as your next commercial lending partner, you're not considering all the options. Mark Ritter, CEO of Nu Direction Lending, specializes in bringing traditional business financing to the credit union market, keeping the focus and funds local. Jason chats with Mark about what makes the credit union relationship unique and how wholesale distributors can benefit by securing their lines of credit, real estate loans, or general financing with a community-based lender.    In addition to keeping money flowing locally, credit unions offer their clients direct access to lending decision-makers. That's a win-win for distributors as personal relationships buoy a company’s bottom line. Not a member? No problem! Over the last ten years, credit unions have greatly expanded their membership criteria, welcoming more personal banking and small business clients into the fold. Whether it's a line of credit, a real estate loan, or something in between, the opportunities for distribution businesses are endless.  When searching for fast, fair, and reliable funding, maybe it's time you took your business to a credit union––an organization that knows your company as well as your community.  CONNECT WITH JASON LinkedIn CONNECT WITH MARK MarkRitter.com *** For full show notes and services visit: http://www.distributionteam.com Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.    This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.  Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: INxSQL Distribution Software, integrated distribution ERP software designed for the wholesale and distribution industry.
30:39 02/16/2022
Activity-Based Costing and Purpose-Driven Customer Engagement in the Safety industry with Dave White
Companies in every vertical have become acquainted with safety distributors throughout the pandemic. But there’s more to this partnership than “just” PPE. Jason chats with Dave White, the purpose-driven co-owner of Quad City Safety in Davenport, IA, about back-to-basics accounting and why he favors educating customers at the expense of recording sales. “A lot of the world operates selfishly,” Dave says, explaining why Quad City Safety gives away so much of its expertise through both a YouTube channel and a podcast. “I think that through being unselfish, usually you're rewarded for being [so].” It’s doubtful that anyone who’s had a conversation with Dave would accuse him of ulterior motives; he’s that passionate about sharing life-saving products and safety information. Of course, transactions keep the business viable enough to support those multimedia endeavors. That’s where Dave’s accounting background comes into play. Distribution companies are littered with emotional, sales-minded individuals who are sometimes swayed by bright, shiny decisions.  Accountant-minded folks like Dave aren’t so easily distracted. Dave and his Quad City Safety specialists continue to forge relationships through knowledge, regardless of how the numbers get crunched. They're committed to reliable, relatable customer care, from updating folks on the latest safety standards to demonstrating wearable gear and site-specific equipment. More often than not, those conversations result in a fall protection device ending up in the right place at the right time––and someone going home unharmed. MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE American Society of Safety Professionals  AD Safety Network CONNECT WITH JASON LinkedIn *** For full show notes and services visit: http://www.distributionteam.com Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.    This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.  Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: HMI Performance Incentives, providing innovative, data-driven B2B incentive solutions.
31:29 02/09/2022
Profitability, expansion, and beneficial ownership with an ESOP in the hose and fittings industry with Mike Mortensen
Looking for a way to enhance company culture and boost revenue? Mike Mortensen, president and CEO of Alaska Rubber Group based in Anchorage, AK, has a proven solution: an employee stock ownership plan. Jason chats with Mike about his entry-level start in distribution, his company’s rapidly expanding physical and digital presence, and why owners of privately-held organizations should look to an ESOP when considering growth or exit strategies. For many independent distributors, the thought of turning company ownership over to employees is as intriguing as it is intimidating.  But ESOP options are endless; owners can choose the most suitable structure for their organization and their legacy. For Alaska Rubber, that meant pursuing a “beneficial ownership” model. “The trust owns the company, owns the inventory, the assets and everything like that. And as an employee and a participant in the plan, we own the right to the rise or fall of the share price.”  To say that the ESOP has panned out for Alaska Rubber is an understatement. While the model wasn’t an easy option for the company’s original selling party to buy into, the long-term benefits outweighed those initial doubts.  Besides increased revenue, transitioning to an ESOP has provided the company with advantages in areas of recruitment, acquisition, and innovation. The company recently completed a massive website upgrade, for example and while on-site cash sales remains top tier, Mike says the fully integrated B2B e-commerce platform has captured business well beyond the counter. Mike also credits forward-thinking tech companies like data partner Proton AI with Alaska Rubber’s success despite online pressure from behemoth pick-and-ship competitors. Mike’s good fortune in the distribution industry is one he’s paying forward. He views his participation in both NAHAD (The Association for Hose & Accessories Distribution) and IDCO (Industrial Distributors Co-op) as a way to contribute to the industry’s future.  MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE DT082: Benj Cohen of Proton AI on Leveraging Sales Data with AI Designed for the Distribution Industry Proton AI NAHAD - The Association for Hose & Accessories Distribution IDCO - Industrial Distributors Co-op CONNECT WITH MIKE MORTENSEN Alaska Rubber Group LinkedIn CONNECT WITH JASON LinkedIn *** For full show notes and services visit: http://www.distributionteam.com Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.    This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.  Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: INxSQL Distribution Software, integrated distribution ERP software designed for the wholesale and distribution industry.
40:36 01/12/2022
Revisiting Lincoln Smith on performance incentives, loyalty programs, and customer behavior
During this holiday season, we are taking the opportunity to re-release some of the most popular episodes of Distribution Talk. Jason recently caught up with Lincoln Smith, chief strategy officer at HMI Performance Incentives.  Although most people associate loyalty incentives with customer programs, now would be a great time to look at shoring up the relationship with internal associates. Distributors are not immune to the “great resignation” going on in North America and we hate to see associates jump ship for a couple of bucks per hour when we could design non-monetary performance rewards to keep them engaged.  Furthermore, Jason predicts that 2022 will be a great time to double down on increasing market share. If you have the inventory, you're in a great position. Loyalty incentives are just another arrow in your quiver. Lincoln has been a great resource to the Distribution Team’s clients over the last 18 months. Enjoy this conversation! *** With everything you’ve got going on, here’s a topic you might not have considered: loyalty programs. Business has been thrown quite a few curveballs over the recent months and Lincoln Smith says rewards packages could hit a home run for B2B pros looking to boost their profiles and bottom lines in the months and years ahead. Many distributors and wholesalers are being forced to meet challenges that were at the tail end of their do-to lists. HMI is stepping in with innovative solutions for any size business. The drastic world and business changes of late might warrant a tactical refresh and programs like those built by HMI become much more relevant as your business searches for an advantage in the business environment of the very near future.  *** Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.    This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.  http://www.distributionteam.com Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: HMI Performance Incentives, providing innovative, data-driven B2B incentive solutions.
34:41 12/29/2021
Revisiting Lisa Fiore on technology-driven innovation in the legacy landscape industry
During this holiday season, we are taking the opportunity to re-release some of the most popular episodes of Distribution Talk. The August 2020 interview with Lisa Fiore, co-founder and CEO of Landscape Hub, broke all download records for the show. People were intrigued with her ability to apply this digital marketplace to the highly fragmented legacy industry of landscapes. Since the interview, Landscape Hub has grown dramatically and they're continuing to add more robust search features for the end user. From a fingernails in the dirt family business to technology-driven service provider, this is a really cool innovation story.  Enjoy! *** Lisa Fiore left the family business behind to transform an industry. Jason and Lisa discuss the challenges that have shaped her management style and the tech she’s created to revolutionize a stodgy wholesale vertical. “Their version of the story is that I grabbed the business and took it from them. My version is they gave it to me,” Lisa laughs, recalling the series of events that ultimately lead to her taking over the family’s century-old landscape supply business in 2010 - at the height of the Great Recession.  Throughout that crisis, Lisa maintained an honest dialogue with her staff and her family about the painful adjustments to come. Fostering that level transparency taught her a great deal about the value of vulnerability, an attribute that has prepared her for the current pandemic. “We all have deep scars from the recession and I guarantee you we're all gonna have deep scars of living through this…[but] it's informed my instincts.”  Challenges should beget meaningful change. That’s a takeaway Lisa has run with throughout her career. After shoring up the family business, she left the company to realize her dream: the creation of an online marketplace connecting buyers and quality suppliers across the country.  But optimizing a fragmented ecosystem is not an easy task - or a quick one.  Imagine an industry in which the established common names for products change from region to region, where orders are often taken via pencil and pad. That’s what Landscape Hub is up against. Three years in, however, Lisa is as enthusiastic about her tech as she was the first time she pitched it to venture capitalists. “This is the future of the industry and I have to be a part of it and I have to see this thing through.”  Under her guidance, Lisa and her team will no doubt do just that. An entrepreneur at heart, she’s happiest laying the foundation for future innovations. “We are doing something that is genuinely going to change this industry. We don't know necessarily what role we'll play in terms of the finished product, but I guarantee you, what we're doing today will make a difference.” *** Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.    This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.  http://www.distributionteam.com Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: INxSQL Distribution Software, integrated distribution ERP software designed for the wholesale and distribution industry.
36:08 12/22/2021
Talbot Gee on association member engagement, government advocacy and workforce development at HARDI
If a trade association is only as good as its leadership, then HARDI––the Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Distributors International Association––is very good indeed, thanks to the energetic and innovative direction of CEO Talbot Gee. Jason chats with Talbot about his formula for providing consistent, top-notch value to HARDI members. The equation includes plenty of workforce development, government advocacy, and gratitude for the biggest little industry most folks know nothing about. “You could be a supremely educated college graduate, or you could be someone who never once even considered or wanted to go to college. Maybe [you] barely got through high school.” Talbot confides, before revealing distribution’s best-kept secret: “You could end up being a multimillionaire in this industry if you got the right stuff and work hard at it.” He has the stories to prove his supposition, committed to video for the documentary Hot Commodity, a  behind-the-scenes look at young people finding success in the HVAC industry. It’s one of the many workforce initiatives that Talbot has been involved in, a concerted effort to build relationships with the next generation of decision-makers. In doing so, he’s securing the current and future health of the industry. Whether he’s promoting the HVAC industry, pushing the envelope of member offerings, or expanding his organization into Mexico, Talbot is laser-focused. HARDI’s membership appreciates his work, especially regarding the many congressional fly-ins he’s participated in on behalf of sector-specific issues. It’s a form of advocacy that Talbot has helped foster. “I know people get uncomfortable when you talk about the connection of money in politics,” he says, “but there's a reason that all exists. I'm not saying it's perfect, but it's not all bad.” One of HARDI’s strengths lies in its ability to drive member engagement, reaching out rather than waiting for membership to respond. Talbot says the organization continues to lean into and learn from those efforts. “That's kind of one of those dynamics of just how our business is so different now than the way it was before,” he says, referencing not only the period just before the pandemic but also HARDI’s overall evolution.  The organization has grown to three times the size since Talbot first arrived and has become a more consultative entity in the intervening years. That growth suits Talbot, who’s constantly tuned into creating mutually beneficial strategies and partnerships for the people he serves. “Man, when you solve a problem for them,” Talbot says, “it's like best friends for life. They're the absolute most gracious people you could ever meet.” Watch Hot Commodity, the documentary mentioned in this episode, for free. MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE Hot Commodity DT069: Steve Deist on career paths and recruitment strategies in wholesale distribution CONNECT WITH TALBOT GEE & HARDI HARDI LinkedIn CONNECT WITH JASON LinkedIn *** Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.    This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.  http://www.distributionteam.com Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: INxSQL Distribution Software, integrated distribution ERP software designed for the wholesale and distribution industry.
36:58 11/24/2021
Marc Beerman on understanding the finances and investing in talent
In order to compete in business, you need to be willing to change your ways. Jason talks about recruiting and retaining talent in the digital age with Marc Beerman, President and CEO of Beerman Precision in Beerman Precision is a New Orleans based rental, sales and service company focused on the industrial construction market. Marc learned the importance of understanding finances early on from his father, Ralph, who founded the company as a side hustle while working full time and raising a family. Quoting a lesson from his dad, Marc says, “Don’t let tax returns fool you. Sometimes you make money on paper, but you have no cash.” This insistence motivated Marc to go back to school after completing his engineering degree to get another degree… this time in finance. Marc came into the business in the early 1980s when the business was crashing due to the bottom dropping out of the oil industry. His solution was to stop buying inventory. “I said, ‘We need to be cash rich, inventory lean’… so that when things turn around we have enough capital to make it through.” And make it through, they did, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that they were able to start growing again.  Over his 3+ decades of leadership Marc has weathered storms (literally and figuratively) and has navigated changes in branches, technology, and more. Like many DT guests, he says one of the best business decisions he made was joining the board at STAFDA, eventually even serving as president. “You learn tremendous amounts from being around people who know a lot more than you.” One of the things that lights Marc up is seeing young people coming into STAFDA. He and Jason agree that they need even more young folks entering distribution as a career. Marc says the problem is that distribution isn’t a visible industry, rather it’s more behind the scenes. Jason quips, “We’re boxes in, boxes out!” The corner Marc is turning now is to focus more on e-commerce, an area where he sees some companies excelling and a lot who are lagging behind. He feels like this is an area where there is opportunity for smaller companies to play. The challenge is to recruit and retrain a different type of talent than what they have previously been accustomed to. Pitching your company to a potential candidate can be a bit of a role reversal. For Beerman, Marc is asking the critical question  “What makes us a valuable place for someone to make a career?” His solution is giving young candidates a career path, helping them see what the future may hold for them when they come to work for Beerman. He cites Evergreen Marketing Group as a valuable partner, providing members with financial incentives toward investing in training for their employees. He sees this as part of his pitch to attract talent, and says, “It's been a great win for many of our employees, but it also was a win, believe it or not, for some employees that didn't stay with us.” Ultimately, he says regardless of the risk, it’s worth the investment either way.  CONNECT WITH MARC Beerman Precision LinkedIn CONNECT WITH JASON LinkedIn *** Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.    This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.  http://www.distributionteam.com Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: HMI Performance Incentives, providing innovative, data-driven B2B incentive solutions.
40:31 11/17/2021
Benj Cohen of Proton AI on Leveraging Sales Data with AI Designed for the Distribution Industry
There’s no question that artificial intelligence is poised to revolutionize distribution, and incorporating this vital tool is a lot less daunting than it once seemed. Jason chats with Benj Cohen, founder and CEO of Proton AI, about extracting the gold that’s buried deep in our systems. From uncovering hidden sales opportunities to onboarding new reps quicker than ever before, AI’s ability to dig into data can help our legacy industry close more sales and meet future market challenges. “The median Proton AI customer sells 687,000 different skews,” says Benj. With all those items in play, it’s difficult for reps to figure out what customers need to buy now and anticipate what they’ll want to buy further down the sales stream. “We have a ton of data that we're not leveraging to solve this problem.” Enter Proton AI, the post-graduation project he set up to find a solution that would apply to the family’s dental distribution business and other verticals. Having grown up in and around distribution, Benj is sensitive to AI skeptics amongst salespeople and owners. “We're very far away, in my opinion, from AI taking over the world, especially taking over the world of distribution,” he says, allaying those fears by explaining how the tech supports growth. “What we do is ingest all of the customer data, product, data, transaction data, quote data, online browse data, truly everything we can get about what a distributor’s customers are doing.”  Those patterns, many of which are too sophisticated for the human brain to recognize efficiently, are analyzed to make reps smarter. “The challenge with traditional CRMs is that they are just taking from the rep but not giving.” Proton AI’s approach delivers sales opportunities and creates a unique partnership between reps and its technology––via a system that your company’s salesforce will actually want to use. “We're trying to be a helpful partner, to make their lives easier so they can spend more time with customers.” Benj is a tech CEO with distribution in his DNA; he views the playing field from every angle and devises solutions accordingly. “Distributors need to be ready to compete with this next generation of digital-first companies,” he advises, adding, “I don't think we should be beating ourselves up as a distributor saying, ‘Oh, geez! We're backwards. We don't think technically!’” Ultimately, it's about tools that, to this point, haven’t considered the industry’s business model.  Instead, they’ve simply overlaid their rigid systems onto distribution’s expansive terrain. “Distributors already have a ton of data at their disposal,” he says. Proton AI helps any size distributor analyze that information to their long-term advantage. CONNECT WITH BENJ & PROTON AI ProtonAI benj@proton.ai LinkedIn CONNECT WITH JASON LinkedIn *** Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.    This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.  http://www.distributionteam.com Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: INxSQL Distribution Software, integrated distribution ERP software designed for the wholesale and distribution industry.
33:58 11/10/2021
Cam Overacker & Tyler Yelland on highlighting industry trends & communicating company culture with Primco’s podcast, Know Where You Stand
When Tyler Yelland, vice president of sales and marketing at Primco, approached the company’s president, Cam Overacker, about starting a podcast, the pair quickly realized the show’s potential beyond sales. Jason chats with the Canada-based duo about telegraphing Primco’s company culture via Know Where You Stand (KWYS), their trendsetting podcast in the ordinarily conservative floor covering industry. From honest talk about podcasting’s ROI to its power as a vehicle for inspiring the next generation of distribution professionals, Cam, Tyler, and Jason share their experiences and insights with the pod-curious. There’s a simple explanation for how a Primco podcast came about: a marketing consultant proposed a blog. “I just wanted to do something more unique and something different [in] the market,” says Tyler. Ten episodes into recording KWYS, his instincts have proven sound. The show comes across exactly as intended––an informative chat among colleagues who just happen to be friends. “It doesn't feel like work. It's just like Cam and I having another meeting except, instead of talking KPIs, we're just talking about what we would normally talk about.”  “I had no idea what I was getting in for,” Cam jokes. All kidding aside, he quickly embraced a bigger picture mentality. “The transparency that the podcast gives us is, ‘trust us, this is really who we are, and this is what we're going to say.’” Cam and Tyler aren’t product reviewers; they’re industry advocates inviting manufacturers, retail partners, and, yes, even consumers behind the scenes. “For me, it's more about that one person that you turn to, maybe, being open to hearing more about the Primco story and our products... To me, that’s more important than any stat you can get,” Cam says. Still, KWYS has an impressive reach thus far, and it’s easy to understand why. With episode topics running the gamut from technology to shipping (a top-of-mind consideration given COVID import delays across every vertical), KWYS is a data-driven listen as well as an engaging access point for future business leaders. Tyler agrees. “There were so many times when I was younger and just thought I knew everything,” he says. “It would have been nice to be able to flip something like this on and just listen to it and get ideas and get those juices flowing.” When asked to share their number one podcasting tip, the Primco guys echo one of Jason’s own: “Call Andrea,” Cam says, a shoutout to Andrea Klunder, producer of both KWYS and DT. The response is also a nod to Cam’s overall business investment strategy. “When we look back on [Primco’s] failures over 74 years of business, it's the times when you can see that [we] didn't go all in.” MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE The Q and A Sales Podcast w/ Paul Reilly  V Strategies - Calgary Video & Production Surfaces: The International Surfaces Event NAFCD ​​ CONNECT WITH CAM LinkedIn CONNECT WITH TYLER LinkedIn CONNECT WITH JASON LinkedIn *** Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.    This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.  http://www.distributionteam.com Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: HMI Performance Incentives, providing innovative, data-driven B2B incentive solutions.
48:57 10/27/2021
David Stafford on navigating successful acquisitions and fostering employee loyalty among a majority Millennial workforce
Reports of massive employee turnover and dissatisfaction are everywhere––except at Stafford-Smith, Inc. Jason chats with David Stafford, third generation president and CEO of the Kalamazoo-based foodservice equipment distributor, about his company’s remarkable retention rate. With 19 locations across 11 states and an overwhelmingly Millennial workforce, Stafford-Smith’s culture of loyalty flourishes under David’s open-door policy, an office-wide environment of mutual respect, and a few well-timed pranks. “It's been a very good ride so far. We make money; we are very profitable. We work hard. [ ] I don't ask anybody ever to do anything I'm not willing to do myself or have not done.” Although David’s lead from the front style is a hallmark of successful privately-held distribution companies, it’s his repeated acknowledgement of team contributions that make him a standout in the industry. Competitive by nature, David applies lessons learned from his college football days to business, preferring a team approach to execution and a coach’s mindset to decision-making. “It takes a village, and so we all need to do this together,” he says, referring to the pandemic-related challenges of the last 18 months. “But again, we also have another edict: business is not a democracy. There comes a time where somebody has to be the head coach, general manager, and owner.” Access to the key decision maker lays the groundwork for job satisfaction and loyalty, regardless of an employee’s generational cohort. While many businesses are frantically trying to rework company culture issues exposed by the pandemic, Stafford-Smith is benefiting from well-established practices. “You see a lot of people having a hard time hiring people. Everybody came back to work for us,” David says with pride. Even the five employees (out of over 200) who wanted to retain wfh status were replaced within a week. Stafford-Smith’s enviable position as a top-tier employer is one of the reasons they’re also exceptionally successful at acquisitions. For companies interested in pursuing an acquisition or greenfield startup, figuring out the perfect formula can seem daunting. David relies on data and his gut. “The formula is, really, I have to feel with these people what's going on. I gotta feel it's the right decision.” Again, he goes back to the importance of everyone involved, not only the bottom line. “You gotta make sure you handle it right, that you treat the people right,” he says, ever mindful that the new employees will assimilate into Stafford-Smith’s well-established ecosystem.  Stafford-Smith’s gameplan for a post-COVID environment begins with the folks on the floor and ends on David’s doorstep––and his office is always open.   MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE Check out Jason’s recent interview with Dirk Beveridge. CONNECT WITH JASON LinkedIn *** Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.    This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.  http://www.distributionteam.com Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: INxSQL Distribution Software, integrated distribution ERP software designed for the wholesale and distribution industry.
45:41 09/22/2021