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This month, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Wholesaling 100 and review the listings, it's fascinating to watch the leadership changes and transitions through the family generations. Guided by the one beforehand, the next generation of leaders forge their vision and path for the company’s future — guided by the previous leadership yet fueled by their own ambition.
We wanted to hear from this next generation of distributor leaders — about their goals, visions, what drives them and where they go to replenish. We connected with Daniel and Jordan New, Mid-City Supply; Katie Poehling Seymour, First Supply Co.; Nick Porter, Porter Pipe & Supply; Koltin Stratiner, Puget Sound Pipe & Supply; and Seth Gordon, Thrifty Supply. Each has a unique story and vision, and yet so much in common.
Upon reviewing the lineup, it is safe to say that the individuals grew up either in the family business or had taken paths that helped them to be where they are today.
The conversations were recorded via Zoom in our series called “Generational Leadership.” Each is a thoughtful conversation on how and when they became involved in their family-owned and -operated businesses. We discuss employee empowerment, changes to the company roadmap, and how their leadership styles differ from those who previously led the charge.
Current leaders and up-and-coming leaders can learn from the road these individuals have and will continue to travel for our industry. You can watch the entire conversations and hear all the detail and tidbits on how they are forging their path — conversations will be found at www.phcppros.com.
They are packed with information, and many times you will hear me say, "I never even thought about that."
In the meantime, below is an encapsulation of our answerers to a few of my talking points (lightly edited) — yet the full conversations go into further detail. A special thank-you to a channel partner to so many, Legend Valve, who sponsored a portion of the events.
Koltin Stratiner, president of Puget Sound Pipe & Supply (www.pspipe.com), is the fourth generation at the helm of his Seattle-based PVF-focused company, celebrating more than 100 years in business. The company history is deep in service and takes great pride in its motto: Providing quality pipe, valves and fittings since 1917. Its core values are PIPE: People, Integrity, Partnerships and Excellence.
Koltin has worked within the company for more than 13 years. Now he leads the Puget Sound Pipe team to carry out its mission and values, and expand upon its reach. When asked what his vision and mission are and how he aligns them with the company's, his answer was quite simple: "Quality is at the core of everything we do and is the main focus for every decision we make.”
He adds: “We don’t pretend that we're going to be the lowest cost upfront; it's never part of the discussion. We combine all our best ideas, the people we have, and their best focuses and move those into our partnership. At the end of the day, customers are getting the best possible service, and we are coming up with ideas that save them time and money. Every decision we make as a company is how do we better serve our partners and employees.”
At the time of our interview, Katie Poehling-Seymour was president of First Supply (www.firstsupply.com), a family-owned and -operated wholesale distributor that Midwestern contractors rely on for plumbing, HVAC, municipal, waterworks, well and septic, PVF, and industrial supplies. In early June, Poehling-Seymour was promoted to CEO of the business, making her the fifth generation at the helm. The company was incorporated in 1897.
When asked about the company mission and values, Poehling-Seymour stated: “The mission of First Supply is to provide our customers with quality products and services in a timely, accurate, cost-effective manner, while generating a fair return to our shareholders. For our kitchen, bath & lighting stores division, our mission is to delight our customers with a project and product experience that exceeds their expectations by providing professional service, inspirational design, and the latest, most innovative products.”
“It’s all about servicing the customer,” she adds. “To that comes our guiding principles, which are ingrained in our business: people, performance, relationships; those are the core of what we do — and our people being at our foundation.”
I asked how her mission and core values align with the company's. "A few years ago, Joe [Poehling, then- CEO] and Todd Restel [CFO and family member] and I sat down to review our strategic plan for the next five years. We thought about what our family's mission is, what our family's guiding principles are, how that will relate with the business. and who do we want to show up as?
“We made a couple of statements that I just loved. We talked about our new values: stewardship is the careful and responsible management of the important things entrusted to our care, which is our legacy, our employees' wellbeing, our customer's confidence, our suppliers' interest, and our community prosperity. Those were powerful statements, and I think that sums up so much when we think about generational evolution.
When asked about her personal mission and how it aligns with the company, she so eloquently stated: “To be genuinely authentic and have purposeful presence. I say that as someone who's taking on a new leadership role in our business, somebody who is a young mom, and as a younger person — all these things need to come together. It means just showing up. It means when you show up. be prepared; what you are doing is the most important thing happening at the moment.”
Nick Porter is CEO of Porter Pipe and Supply Co. (www.porterpipe.com), a family-owned and -operated wholesale supplier of commercial and industrial plumbing supplies, PVF, HVACR equipment and mechanical products. Headquartered in Addison, Ill., the company has served the metro Chicago area since 1976, focusing on being a go-to supplier for commercial plumbing, mechanical contracting, industrial repair and manufacturing needs. Having grown up in the company and spent more than 21 years with it, he is the third generation at the helm.
The company's mission is simple and direct: "Through faith in God, we are dedicated to superior service and honesty and integrity in all we do. A positive attitude and attention to detail will ensure complete customer satisfaction." It is coupled with its motto of "Partnership with Purpose."
When asked about how his mission aligns with the company, Porter became animated. “When you take on family leadership in a generational business, there's a ton of pressures and responsibility — but also a lot of opportunities. One of the things I fell in love with is bringing a purpose and vision to life. And people ask me all the time, 'What do you do for your family business?’ And I always say, ’I get the opportunity to provide vision and leadership.’
“My vision for the company is to be the best that we can be in every market that we choose to be in, and that guides the decisions we make. I believe in creating more opportunities for all our stakeholders: our team members, our manufacturing and vendor partners and our customer partners. Creating opportunity for our stakeholders drives what we’re doing. It’s about making more lives better.”
Seth Gordon, president of Thrifty Supply Co. (www.thriftysupply.com), and heads up the family-owned full-service heating and air-conditioning distributor based in Seattle. After more than six years with the firm, he was promoted in early 2020. Founded in 1951 by brothers Harold and Moe Gorlick, the company has grown over the years and today has 90 employees that take care of the company's 11 branches that serve the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Northern California. The company is close to his heart as he is married to the granddaughter of company founder.
The company's mission statement is to treat customers memorably every time. “The company’s core values were developed and refined by our Thrifty Family,” says Gordon. “We have a Continuous Improvement Contest, which is a big focus of ours. How can we find better ways of doing things, and what are our core values?
“We solicited from every employee their best ideas for what we can be doing differently or better as a company, as well as their favorite core value that they feel defines our company. What came out was a great list, and we built those into our core values: our integrity, our dependability, our commitment to customers, family appreciation, and then continuous improvement. It was fun to involve all our staff in the process of creating and defining our set of core values. Our culture is that of empowerment and getting used to soliciting feedback.”
Brothers Dan and Jordan New are the third generation working within their family-owned and -operated wholesale-distributor company, Mid-City Supply (www.mid-city.com). Based out of Elkhart, Ind., the company has nine locations throughout Michigan and Indiana, serving contractors and homeowners for their plumbing, HVAC, refrigeration, PVF and industrial product needs.
Mid-City Supply is rooted in well-trained associates with a partnership philosophy to deliver the best value-added services while maintaining competitive wholesale prices. This has served the company well over its 70-plus years in business.
At the time of our recording, Dan's role was vice president of administration, and he had worked within the company for 10 years. Jordan's role was vice president of operations, and he had worked in the company for almost seven years. Their roles changed in early July, as they stepped into the role of co-president, serving as the third generation at the helm.
The company motto and core values are simply stated but expertly delivered: “Our vision is to drive success of those associated with our organization. We care more about the human than the bottom line. Our core values — created by our associates and our father, Jeff — are honesty, integrity, responsibility, enrichment, flexibility, optimism, respect, safety, self-esteem, cooperation, customer-focused and enthusiasm.”
Ruth Mitchell: When you stepped into the leadership role (President/CEO), what was your first goal for innovation for employee growth/empowerment — and how long did it take to accomplish?
Koltin Stratiner (KS): My two brothers, cousin, and I sat down and asked, ‘What do we want to do, and what do we want to change?’ What stood out was getting more people involved and moving the stigma away from ownership versus employees. We created a leadership team that spans all levels of our organization and brings together a group of managers and individuals from accounting and finance, marketing, our HR manager, and the [Stratiner/Lewis] family.
Thirteen of us currently sit on the leadership team. The first thing we did was make our key people feel they had a say in the direction of the company, and not feel as if decisions were being made behind closed doors. They have really good ideas and we wanted to incorporate them.
We wanted them to feel they had a say in the long-term vision of the company and where we are going. If you give people a voice, and they feel heard, they're going to grow leaps and bounds ahead of what they would have been able to do without.
Katie Poehling Seymour (KPS): Under Joe’s [Poehling] leadership, we had a great succession plan, and it was important to him. It’s been important for me as well — we are 124 years old, and we're not going to get to another 124 years if we don't have a plan… that covers all levels of the organization. When I took the role as president, it started the deck of cards around succession planning, and we started moving more people into new positions and more promotions.
It started to gel — and formed a different leadership team. It brought up the succession of our entire company, which is exciting and important. We then empowered the leadership team to do what it needed to do to form their teams and get their pieces in place to ultimately deliver our objectives and long-term strategic goals.
Sidenote: Several years ago, Katie was instrumental in starting ASA’s Women in Industry program.
This year, the group awarded the Alice A. Martin Woman of the Year Award to Robyn Brookhart of Liberty Pumps. I asked Poehling about the group and how it translates into innovation at First Supply:
When I think about innovation in our industry, I think the diversity of voices and leadership diversity are part of it. I believe when thinking about innovation, it's people like Robin and me sitting in these seats of leadership who are different than had been in the past. When I was younger, women in our family were not in the business yet, but that changed quickly.
I believe women in leadership positions and serving all types of teams in our industry have an important place, but not because they are women. That's not why we should be here. It's because we're the right person for the role. And so, we need to sit in these seats, not because of what we are but because of who we are. And that's going to continue to be important as well.
Nick Porter (NP): I have found that in life, the reward is most often retroactive. I’ve largely been doing the job of the CEO position since January 2019, but was only officially presented with the title of CEO in April of 2021, having carried a COO role prior, and [having been asked this question in the past], I've often said, “Well, it's been the middle initial on my business card.” It is a job that I've been doing for a long time. People need to remember — I don't care if it's in business or a relationship outside of work, maybe it's in your church or your community — first you do and you show that you can, and then you are rewarded.
I'm fortunate to be in a position where no major changes needed to be made. I've had a wonderful relationship with some of my best friends in the world — who are my business partners, my father, my uncle, and my brothers and my cousins. When you're well-connected, you share a vision, and you're always in good dialogue, so not many drastic changes need to be made.
Seth Gordon (SG): Anytime you step into a different role, there is a lot to learn and understand what is expected. There is my view of what's expected, and there is the company's view of what's expected. How do I make sure that those expectations are met?
Learning and becoming the leader I want to be, and who the company needs me to be, are a never-finished process. It's the constant learning, adapting and finding new and better ways to lead. I was talking to someone recently describing family businesses, and they said, "It's a high risk, high reward.“ And then the family dynamic — navigating it can be tricky, mainly because there are many emotions and not seeing eye to eye necessarily. But it's fun to be working on it and in it!
Dan New (DN): I don't see a lot of immediate changes. As you mentioned, our role ]previous to promotion to co-president] has been on the executive team, and together with Jeff New [our father], we have been running the company for a handful of years now. We like the direction we're going. It's something we're constantly talking about and always looking at. We also like our ability to be nimble, so I don't see many immediate changes right away. But we will use our values and guidance and continue to go in the direction we think is right.
Jordan New (JN): I smile because one great thing about Dan and me is that we are yin and yang! If you ask Dan, we're not going to be changing much. If you ask me, we're probably going to be changing almost everything! He does a great job of pulling my reigns, and I do a good job of leading the leash. So together we are a good pair.
The things that we will be working on together are career paths for each position to empower associates in their careers. No doubt the newer generation and younger associates need more of a coach; they need a path to keep them engaged to stay on a path of success. We're working on simple things such as expectations: for each position, proper lines of communication, processes and procedures. When we were a smaller company, it was OK to be a little informal. But the bigger we get, the more structured we need to be.
RM: How have you changed the company’s roadmap? What influences your decision-making?
KS: Digitization and streamlining processes — this is one of the first things we did. We realized we needed better data to make better decisions. And the idea that data is king is not necessarily new but has really taken shape over the last couple of years when you start looking at integrating computer systems to generate data. So, we started working with a Seattle-based company that worked on our business data side and provided information we can very quickly see daily to make better decisions. We then roll that data onto our employees at all levels of the organization.
With the data, we started putting together key performance indicators to track where we wanted to be. The leadership and strategy teams were putting goals together for those gaps and ensuring that we met them. It's really hard to say you're doing a good job or explain to people things are getting better in the areas where you guys keep saying that we need work unless you have a metric to show them. So, coming up with that data integration and that system side, and then moving forward on the full digitization of the company and streamlining those processes is what we have been working on.
KPS: I don't know if I changed the roadmap or if the world has changed the roadmap. The things we deal with every day, between supply chain issues, our customers needing just-in-time products and everything happening in the world make our roadmap every day.
I think about where we've come and where we're going. Our goal is to be the No. 1 independent distributor in each of the markets we serve for our vendor partners and each of our customers. And that hasn't changed. That's where we started 124 years ago, where we aspire to today, and what we'll continue to do in the future.
It will have some twists and turns as we think about new team members and innovations, what our facilities look like, and how are we incorporating efficient energy vehicles. All those things are going to look and feel a little bit differently. But ultimately, the roadmap is for us to be the leader in each of our markets for each of our vendors, to each of our customers.
SG: Thrifty has always been a great sales organization, very sales-focused, and my background is on the financial side — with 10 years of my career living in spreadsheets. I like the financial or the operational side of things. We have a great sales culture; how can we pair a great operational culture as well? That's one thing I've tried to focus on is utilizing my skill sets to see what's missing; then let's add to that.
In 2018, we acquired a wholesale company based out of Spokane, Wash., — it had an incredible culture, very similar to our own, with a loyal customer base and hardworking, dedicated employees. We viewed it as a great fit for ourselves in terms of adding locations and those employees into the Thrifty family. That was really my jumping-off point to the business — integrating the two companies and developing the roadmap going forward.
Last year I was able to put together a specific three-year plan for our roadmap: from a sales perspective, operations perspective, marketing perspective. I laid out a plan for every department, and every person, within the company — and specifically, how we were going to achieve those aggressive goals we've set.
How do you make it actionable and specific enough for each department so that everyone feels a part of what it is that we're doing and knows where we're going? That is a big job of leadership.
DN: It comes down to caring about people as family and wanting everyone to succeed. You mentioned in the opening about our partnership philosophy. What that means is we want our partners — our customers, our associates and our vendors — to be successful, that there's plenty of room in this industry for everyone to be successful. We are not successful unless they are. It is caring about family, faith, work, and people. It's about doing the right thing.
It means that a lot of times in our business, we make decisions that are in the best interest of our associates, our customers and vendors — over the company. We have to be profitable to stay in business; however, profit is not the only thing. We want our 130 employees and their families to have good lives.
JN: To say what we're enhancing or refining, I would say is the accountability side of that, right? We do have to hold people accountable; we have to set an expectation and then hold people accountable. I think that's the one thing in our culture that I would say is missing because Jeff did everything perfectly. But I think that's one evolution that we didn't make.
RM: What tools have you implemented to empower employees to propel them on their career paths?
KS: One of the biggest things is understanding our employees better and knowing what they need. We hired a new HR manager who started two years ago. The HR team has done an amazing job of revamping our annual review process and sitting down with the employees and discussing where they want to go — what is their trajectory, understanding what their favorite things are about their job, what their least favorite things are, and trying to put them on a path so they're doing more of the things that they like, and less of the things that they don't.
Having these conversations was the key first step in understanding where the employees wanted to go and giving them a growth path, and letting them understand what that path looks like within PSP. We then focus on the training aspect and put together a training program called the PSP Pathway to Excellence to get them where they want to be on the pathway.
KPS: I go back to our succession planning in terms of when we think about the longevity of our business — and the need to have a succession plan. The flip side is that it empowers our teams to say, “I want to sit in that seat, I want to be over there, I want to do something different. How do I get there?“
It opens up lines of communication, to say, well, maybe I need to take a class at the local community college to get different skills, or maybe I need to partner with a vendor such as Liberty Pumps to learn more about that area of business because I want to take a sales role in that area, or I want to move into customer service. They are all things that empower us to see the future but also to build it as well. I think that's the most important thing that we can do for our teams, to have that ability to raise our hand and say, this is where I want to be and provide a way of doing so.
NP: Companies that are growing are always going to have more opportunities for the people within them. So that is the purpose behind pursuing growth because it'd be very easy to keep Porter Pipe the size it is. We could probably increase the profitability by not investing in more growth and capital investment. But if you're committed to creating opportunity, then growth is going to happen. And if growth is happening, it becomes a loop so that it produces more opportunity.
And when a company is expanding, and the team members within it see that expansion, they see other places for them to move into, as long as leaders can keep their team focused on keeping the right people on the bus. Once you're on the bus, you need to be in the right seat. Just because you're in a seat today doesn't mean that you're automatically qualified to be in that seat five years from today.
As a company grows, individuals need to grow with the position or change needs to be made. That doesn't mean someone gets off the bus, it means maybe there's a different seat on it. When people see that you're putting the interests of both the person and the company first and foremost, and not just allowing something to carry on for the sake of carrying on — they know there's always more opportunity coming.
SG: Education — we have Thrifty University! HARDI has a tremendous educational component that has incredible business-related classes that cover everything from sales to branch management to reading a P & L — you name it. It's not just HVAC-specific, its diving more into the business aspect. We also incorporated blocks from Blue Hawk, which does a fantastic job with vendor training and product information. We are founding members of the group, and its product and vendor training is really good.
The university is available to all staff; eventually, we want to make the content available to our customers. When we can transfer knowledge and training to our employees, they carry it over to the customer. It’s about what we talked about — helping the customer be more successful. If they become involved, it makes our job and that of our customers easier.
In addition, I talked about our Continuous Improvement Contest, and an idea that came out of that was to develop a career development program, as well as an emerging leaders program.
We are always looking at how we can be creative in the ways our employees improve themselves and empower them to grow.
JN: Training is one thing that we do. Our employees can attend any ASA class [and others] they want; we will provide and pay for it. Also, we promoted an internal associate who was the smartest person we know who knows about our industry, and we've converted him into a Sherpa. He is the internal guide for our associates, and his job is to go to each branch and figure out what opportunities there are to learn and then provide those opportunities. So that's one; small, but a big thing.
And then the others have check-ins to figure out what they need and what they want, and we will provide anything, such as a women empowerment class for our director of first impressions who felt as if she didn't have the confidence that she needed.
Why do we do it? Because we want our team to become better; the whole pronoun of you and me equals us. So, if you get better, then we get better.
DN: From an employee’s onboarding meetings with Jordan, myself and others, we talk about the opportunities for advancement and our policy of always wanting to promote from within. We have a couple of associates who started in accounting and are now in showroom sales — and they are great at it! One is now a manager, so you can never really know where people's interests lay or what they'll be good at until you talk to them about it. Then help them get there.
JN: When someone's not successful, it typically it's not a discussion of “OK, let's get him out of here.“ It's OK, let's find another seat on the bus; their skill sets are different than what we're asking. So, let's find a place where their skill set can shine. That's how we are trying to lead this organization.
RM: What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
KS: Working closely with American Supply Association, which provides great training and peer networking. It gives the conversations and guidance of "Where are we going and what are we doing? What have we done well, and where can we improve?" We also have a partnership with Texas A & M University, which I've gone through, as well as many of our key leaders. It brings different people into the conversation, which helps in terms of leadership. I believe that peer networking is one of the best things you can do.
In addition, we have a moderator we use for our long-term strategy meetings who is also a very good leadership coach. We've worked closely with them on how we adapt and change our leadership styles to fit each situation. I think that's something important for us to understand — what is our default leadership style? What do we go to naturally? And how do we fight that natural instinct to lead that way when dealing with an employee who may not learn the best way by that type of leadership?
Having those conversations and training and doing it as a leadership group, we can call each other out. We can say, “Hey, why don't you try to invest time with this employee if what I’m doing is not working? Let's work together to try to bring two different leadership styles to this employee to get them to where they need to be.” That's been extremely helpful as well.
KPS: Family is so important. Having three young children under the age of three, my life has changed so much and so dramatically. If I'm worried about that, I can't be the leader I need to be in the office. And if I'm worried about what's in the office, I can't be the mom I need to be at home.
So, when I think about what I do outside the office? We walk a lot — activity is so important to me. I play a lot of tennis, which seems crazy as a mom of three kids. And I have a great support system that allows me to do that — I have time every week that I can spend with my girlfriend at women's tennis night, I can blow off some steam, and I'm out and about and in a place that I love.
In addition, being with my family as well. I have sisters and a brother, and we live all over the country. Pre-pandemic, I spent so much time traveling to get together — and we have missed out on that so much. We're excited to get back together and spend time together and bring our kids together. That's exciting and energizing for me. And it helps me to see all of them… they bring their expertise! It's really fun sometimes to talk about work. We're in very different work areas, but just sharing information on how their companies are doing and how they handle situations helps.
NP: I think every leader needs their own peer group or their own personal board of directors, and I've been fortunate to have some amazing mentors in my life. And I've always been intentional about who those mentors are and who I work to align myself with. What I've done in a lot of instances is I formally asked for that mentorship. I have written letters to people; I'm committing to providing value to them in the process of being mentored, and that's been beneficial.
I am a Vistage member, which I believe is the premier CEO leadership peer group that exists, it's been one of the best investments I've ever made in myself. It has paid significant dividends to our company. So, to all leaders out there, if you don't have a peer group that's structured and committed to making you a better leader, I would encourage you to seek one.
The final piece is when you're committed to sharing what you've learned, and you learn more in the process. So, talking and engaging with local universities will always help me walk away with something that I didn't walk in with every time. I get to be active in the industry — serving on the PVF board of Affiliated Distributors and serving on the ASAE boards helps me continue developing myself. When you're 20 years in your career, you don't have one year of experience 20 times over, you've genuinely got 20 years of experience. Each year you're learning something new and adding a different skill set to your toolbox.
SG: I think it’s critical to fill that gap — and keeping a balance is important. I make sure to be present with my wife and three boys and carve out the time. The workday is over or it's the weekend — and you're not checking email. It’s all about balance. It is super critical to me for our family being together, enjoying all those moments. If I'm doing that, and I have to, I’m taking care of myself.
Also, we are a big baseball family, and I just started coaching T-ball, and that fills the gap pretty quickly and is super fun. It's essential to keep a balance, be present, have fun, and then show up on the following day, refreshed.
DN: A big part of it is keeping a learning mindset in general, knowing that we don't know everything, or we know a lot less than everything. There is no limit to where we can learn the information…and keeping that open mind that you never know where you're going to learn that next lesson. For formalized programs, ASA's events, including its emerging leaders program and The Commonwealth Group meetings.
I belong to a local business networking group as well, trying to expand my horizons there. So, it's about knowing that you don't know everything and continuing to have that learning mindset and ask questions.
JN: I sit on a few boards to see how other organizations see different experiences. But like Dan said, the one thing I know is I know nothing, right? So, if I can continue to ask questions and continue to listen, the more I listen, the more I'll learn. We will also learn a lot through mistakes; we're going to make mistakes, there's no doubt. If you're not making mistakes, you're not trying. So, we will be making mistakes, and we have got to learn from those, too. Lastly, it's about being present with family and family time.
RM: In the past year, what's the smallest change that you have made that's had the biggest positive result?
KS: Talking less, listening more and getting better at asking open-ended questions. It goes back to leadership training. One of the things that we focus on is asking open-ended questions so that we can get a detailed answer, listen to the full response and act on it. I think that's the biggest thing we've done.
KSP: A little more than a year ago [at the start of the pandemic], before I was president, we put together a task force and started sending an email corporate-wide. First, every day, then a couple of days a week, and now once a week.
I believe that one email has changed how we communicate as a company, and it's changed how I've been able to communicate with some of our teams. I get emails back from people I didn't know as well before the pandemic, but now I hear from them and we learn more about each other. So, sending one email a week has changed how we thought about things and how we've talked about things in our company, and the dialogue and openness continue.
NP: One of the lessons I learned through a crazy year like the pandemic year 2020 was that sometimes you have to slow down and enjoy the scenery. My wife and I always take our kids to restaurants, and we have a busy social schedule. We love to take our kids everywhere with us — we are that parent couple who brings their kids to a steak house, and I don't care if they're a little bit louder than the other guests would prefer. They're coming with us wherever we go and spend time together.
That was enriching for me, as it was time that I did not spend as often before. Sometimes, just stop and enjoy the scenery and remember that man never made the things in life that matter most; they were created in God. So go outdoors, spend time with people you love, people who work for you. That's what life is about. And if you stop and enjoy that a little more, life is better. And you're more effective.
SG: Well, the most significant change we just went through was an ERP conversation, and I think everyone has been on edge for a long time. — and understandably, as people are working 60- or 70-hour weeks. But out of that is the smallest change — trying to focus on patience in the long term. Rather than give 150 percent every day, well, let's give 100 percent, and let's not try to blow this balloon to the point that it explodes. Just have more patience, and we'll get to it eventually — just on focus on the long term.
DN: I would say trying not to worry about the things that you can't control. I don't know if that's small enough for you. I guess it could be bigger, but it's helped me with all the COVID-19 things as well as all the other supply issues and everything else. It's control what you can and keep a positive attitude about it, and not let the other things bring you down.
JN: One thing with the pandemic is that we consciously buy more for four to six months instead of one to two months. That's helped us up to this point — right now, it's a little more difficult. In addition, we are allowing branches to create their own set culture —allowing them to listen to their markets and not create a set of standards that every branch must abide by.
What that evolved into was one of the things I think is a small change that helped us improve our services on the showroom side. We are by appointment-only now — and that change came out of COVID-19. We realized that the showroom associates could spend more time and energy with that one individual. When there is a walk-in, it takes time and attention away, and we changed that. And, when [a customer says I] need an appointment, it creates a higher perceived value [to me]. That is something that has worked well, and we're going to keep that moving forward.
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