88 episodes

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

Distribution Talk Jason Bader, Distribution Team

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 16 Ratings

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

    Profitability, expansion, and beneficial ownership with an ESOP in the hose and fittings industry with Mike Mortensen

    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 min
    Revisiting Lincoln Smith on performance incentives, loyalty programs, and customer behavior

    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 min
    Revisiting Lisa Fiore on technology-driven innovation in the legacy landscape industry

    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 min
    Talbot Gee on association member engagement, government advocacy and workforce development at HARDI

    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 min
    Marc Beerman on understanding the finances and investing in talent

    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 min
    Benj Cohen of Proton AI on Leveraging Sales Data with AI Designed for the Distribution Industry

    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 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
16 Ratings

16 Ratings

Mcq0823 ,

excellent podcast

Great podcast to learn about what is going on in the business and even ways to optimize growth.

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