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The wholesale distribution industry lost a champion two weeks ago, someone who had an impact not only on the specific industry association he served, but many distribution sectors, leaders and members throughout a career that spanned more than 30 years and countless relationships. John Buckley, executive vice president of the Industrial Supply Association, died suddenly of an apparent heart attack on Feb. 12 at the age of 66.
I count myself lucky – as did so many others – to work with him as a vendor and professional business colleague; to celebrate with him the simple, funny and fascinating things about life as a good friend; and to respect him for being a wonderful example of what a drive to serve, a generous spirit and a smile can accomplish.
John started working in association management for the National Paper Trade Association in the early 1980s. A natural networker long before the term existed, he served in member services roles that included retention and recruitment programs through research and economic benchmarking.
John was the very definition of a thirsty-for-knowledge lifelong learner as he continued to explore best ways to bring additional value and new market intelligence to the members he served.
He went on to become the association executive for NPTA and was one of the founders of the Paper and Plastics Education Research Foundation. He was also publisher of the award-winning magazine, Sales & Marketing News, published by NPTA. He deeply understood the power of education and communication, and he was a tireless promoter of how the combination of both can elevate companies and the careers of those who manage them.
John’s breadth of industry connections and depth of involvement included an ongoing participation in the NAW Association Executives Council, a networking group sponsored by the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors. He served on the Board of Directors of the NAW Distribution Research and Education Foundation, as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100. For many years he represented the U.S. at EUROPA and the Common Market Congress of the Paper Industry. He also served on the ISA Education Foundation Board of Trustees and the Advisory Board for the Industrial Careers Pathways organization.
John’s hearty laugh, the twinkle in his eye and his gift to connect ideas, people and a deep love for his family and life will be with me for a long time to come. John left us far too soon, but he left so much to so many I am able to focus on the friendship and fullness of life that he cherished and shared with such generosity.
Thank you, John.