Memes and Perspectives

It is April 29th.  Each week as I write this letter the date just astounds me.  In fact, it makes me chuckle because I have started to believe what so many memes have stated – April 2020 has 200 days in it!  For the first time in a long time, it seems like we are starting to see the light and the end of the tunnel!  Across our territory, states and cities are noting that business will start to open up!  Not everything at once, but piece-by-piece we will start to flow and function.  Normally, we would be going all out this time of year – and while we’ve stayed busy in a new way, the stress has been much different than in years past.

It is an honor and privilege to me that I have been invited to participate as a member of seven different manufacturer rep (representative) councils.  This is a sign of the value the R/B Sales team (I truly do believe that I have working next to me the best inside / outside team in the market) drives for the manufacturer which, in turn, is a sign of the value our team drives for the distributors and end-users as well.  It would surprise no one that these rep council meetings have been held via video conference on a number of different platforms compared to the typical ‘face-to-face’ meetings of the past.  The more I participate in these calls, the more I feel blessed to be living in “fly over country.”  Certain regional markets have suffered in whole whereas other market sectors (like oil) have been devastated by the virus and by crashing prices.  All of it beyond our control.  Sitting in the video meetings and hearing people talk about sales falling off 50-75% at times makes me thankful to have only seen drops of 20-30% in whole (April sales).  What I once would consider as devastating  (20-30% losses) is now considered a blessing compared to the challenges others are facing.  Thank you – time and time again – for trusting us with what you need.  Now is certainly a time to revel in the steady resilience of the Midwest – a sign of the unyielding character of our people. 

I was sharing some correspondence last week with a friend of mine – a rep agent like me – who has a rather large geography.  He shared with me something that his father shared with him, and now I’m happy to share it with you, too.  Skip’s father, Allen Fields, joined the Block Agency in 1946 and became a partner in 1947.  Father and son discussed the virus and the economic impact it is having on our country.  This is what Skip said:

“I’m very fortunate to have my father who is 94 years-old and a WW II veteran.  I’d like to share his perspective on the COVID-19 crisis.

  • Stay loyal to your employees.
  • Don’t let fear make your decisions.
  • Remember, we live in the greatest country in the world.
  • Don’t worry, things will bounce back stronger than ever because that’s what we do in America.

Skip finished in his own reflection, “I’m not sure how long I’ll have my Dad.  But trust me, I’ll remember his words forever.”

I believe this opinion of what was important after WW II are the same values that helped Allen turn his agency into the powerhouse it has been for the last several decades. I have read these words five or six times over the last 10 days when accidentally coming across this email.  Each time I read it, I’m convinced that his comments are accurate to this day. We DO live in the greatest country in the world and it’s time we acted as such!  If we stay loyal to our employees and our customer base, then they will help us achieve and obtain more than just sales goals – but a greatness that surpasses business.

The attachment this week was written by an industry veteran who also happens to a personal mentor of mine.  Frank Hurtte actually gave me my second job in distribution when I was 18 months out of college.  Since that time, he’s been someone I could call and ask questions of if I needed some forward thinking. Frank Hurtte is the founder of River Heights Consulting, a business he started after he retired from a very successful career in the electrical distribution channel. Please join me and another 150,000 people Frank mentors through his blog and articles where he shares his thoughts and industry knowledge with all of us.   

As always, my personal thanks and appreciation for your ongoing business.  The entire R/B Sales team ready to help you in whatever manner possible.

Have a Great day!

Bill

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