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In an industry defined by the quality of relationships, Allan Chartier defined what that means. For more than three decades, he set the standard through his conduct and relationships with customers, suppliers, vendors, friends, colleagues and competitors across several industries. That was not always easy ground to stand on in the roles he assumed, but he was a man of conviction, as anyone who experienced his powerful handshake quickly learned.
Chartier dedicated himself to building and preserving relationships for the good of the industry.
Chartier was president and CEO of Midwest Industrial Tools, Omaha, NE, a machine tool and industrial supplies distributor with operations in Denver, CO, and Salt Lake City, UT. He was still engaged in association and education work until his death in March at the age of 67.
Many who worked with Chartier in his volunteer leadership roles over more than 30 years feel he was in the right place at the right time, as he guided three trade associations through critical times. He is the only industry professional to serve as president and chairman of Central States Industrial Distribution Association (1988), Industrial Distribution Association (1993-1994) and the American Machine Tool Distributors Association (1998-1999).
He was chairman of the ISD network of Affiliated Distributors (1995-1997), and chairman of the ISA Education Foundation board of trustees (2011-2012). He served on supplier advisory boards and was active in his community.
A supporter of education, he served on advisory committees for the University of Nebraska-Omaha, Bellevue University and the University of Alabama-Birmingham. During his recent tenure with the ISA Education Foundation, he drove to Kearney, NE, to inform the winner of an ISA scholarship award from the Gary L. Buffington Memorial Scholarship, a person and program he held deep respect for. He spent time talking with the class about the industry.
There are countless stories of Chartier’s generosity to those just coming into the industry. I was one of those in 1992. He was a student of the opportunities and threats to the industry, changing customer needs, and a continuous learner always interested in the opinions of others.
Perhaps the greatest challenge of his leadership service came when he was president of IDA, at a time when there was a movement to disengage with the supplier organization it was connected to, the American Supply & Machinery Manufacturers Association. Relationships were torn and meetings sometimes explosive.
“Allan’s role, along with Dick McGrath of 3M, was enormous,” said long-time friend Lee Eagan, president of Oliver H. Van Horn Co., New Orleans, LA. “It was purely unselfish, filled with courage. With only the industry in mind and not the interests of a small minority of powerful people, I think his greatest legacy may have been how he saved an association from splitting up before its time.”
“You have heard the saying that the true mettle of a man is measured not by how he reacts in good times but how he reacts in tough times,” said Ralph Nappi, former executive of the American Machine Tool Distributors Association and friend to Chartier for 27 years. “Allan distinguished himself in tough times, and I was blessed to see that firsthand over the years. He was a rock for his family and for his business.”
“He was a genuine friend and supporter – a mentor, if you will – never too busy to listen, encourage, guide and/or be of assistance,” said Chuck Stockinger, president of Thomas Associates Inc. and long-time executive of the American Supply & Machinery Manufacturers Association and the Industrial Supply Manufacturers Association. “Allan always made a difference, wherever and whenever he was involved in anything!”
Mary Ritchie, director of membership services for the Industrial Supply Association and long-time staff member of IDA, became close friends with Chartier and his wife, Lynda, in the early 1990s when Chartier became president of the association. She shared a story that sums up in many ways the character of a man who was indeed in the right place at the right time.
At an annual convention of the IDA, Ritchie asked Chartier to accompany her to the airport to pick up one of the nation’s most sought-after business speakers to bring back to the hotel. At the airport, Ritchie introduced herself, and the speaker immediately handed Chartier his suitcase and briefcase to carry to the limo before Ritchie had a chance to introduce him as IDA’s president. Chartier said nothing all the way to the car.
Somehow that story seems fitting for a man who so well understood the concepts of service and leadership, and humbly gave so much of himself to his family, community and the industries he helped guide and shape in its ethics and relationships. He stepped up to carry the bags of an entire industry whenever called upon.