Featured photo: From left, NAW CEO Eric Hoplin, MDM CEO Tom Gale, Specialty Building Products CEO Jeff McLendon and Benco Dental Managing Director Chuck Cohen pose for a photo after Gale was presented with NAW’s Distributors Deliver Award Jan. 31 at NAW’s Executive Summit in Washington, D.C. (NAW Photo)
While the dust has yet to settle on the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors’ Jan. 18 acquisition of Modern Distribution Management, MDM’s longtime steward was honored at the end of January with NAW’s top award.
At NAW’s Executive Summit, held Jan. 30-Feb. 1 in Washington, D.C., Tom Gale — MDM Chief Executive Officer and owner from 1992-2024 — was presented with the association’s third annual Distributors Deliver Award, which recognizes the efforts of wholesaler-distributors and individuals to benefit the industry and those within it.
Gale purchased MDM in 1992 and has since held roles of publisher, president and CEO, while also serving as a key editorial voice and face of the brand over his more than three decades with the distribution market research and media company.
“I’ve been NAW’s CEO for over three years now. Since I came from outside of distribution, I asked around to our members when I was trying to learn and get up to speed about the industry, and nine times out of 10, they said, ‘You need to read MDM, and you need to get to know Tom Gale,’” said Eric Hoplin, CEO of NAW. “We wanted to honor Tom out of our respect for him and his long, important career. It’s also the reason it was so important to bring MDM together with NAW so that we can have an even broader impact on the entire industry moving forward.”
Dan Schuberth, NAW’s Chief Revenue Officer, echoed Hoplin’s sentiment. He started at MRO supplies distributor McMaster-Carr in 2008, and early on there, he was assigned to the firm’s marketing department, which introduced him to MDM.
“The first publication that I started to read about the industry — sitting on the desk of every employee in that department — was MDM,” Schuberth said. “It became a daily digest of reading and information and content for me to wrap my arms around the distribution industry, and I know many people have enjoyed MDM content for years, if not decades. I’m certainly one of them, and it’s had a formative impact on my time in the distribution industry. To be able to honor Tom and his legacy is special.”
Under Gale’s leadership, MDM has helped countless distributors — from small independents to multinational market leaders — craft their business strategies for success via the firm’s diversified content offerings. In that time, MDM evolved from a publication focused on industrial and electrical distribution coverage to a multimedia-driven data and analytics organization serving the entire distribution landscape.
“I’m deeply honored,” Gale said in his award acceptance remarks. “Two years ago, I would have never thought I’d be up here and with MDM joining NAW, but I can’t think of a better future for MDM going forward for our team. I’m excited for the next couple of years here to help create that next level and for MDM to have the kind of oxygen for it to grow and continue providing a lot of value.”
Gale went on to recognize MDM founder Van Ness Philip, who started the company as a newsletter in 1967, as well as Rusty Duncan, who was MDM’s publisher for eight years in the 1990s and brought Gale on in 1992 while spearheading the company’s MDM Analytics division. Philip died in 1992, and Duncan followed in 2017.
“Those two people had the vision for what MDM could be and what we ultimately grew into,” Gale explained. “For me, it’s really been the ability to reach across a lot of different sectors of distribution to bring together the best ideas and incredible relationships I’ve been able to build since my first NAW meeting in 1993. That’s fueled a lot of what I’ve been able to do to create this large tent where a lot of ideas can come together to help leaders in this industry.”
Previous winners of the Distributors Deliver award were:
- 2022: Jade West – NAW’s former Chief Government Relations Officer.
- 2021: A collective group of NAW member distributors that donated a combined $1 million+ in PPE and other supplies to help with COVID-19 relief.