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For the past seven weeks, I’ve had the honor to host a weekly program, MDM LIVE, that has been an ongoing discussion with distribution leaders on the impacts the coronavirus epidemic is having on their teams, operations, customers and suppliers. These calls have been incredibly inspiring. To me it feels like they are part of a conversation and a process for how each of us is creating what the future of distribution will look like, and how companies adapt quickly to redefine how they can help customers across every sector of our economy ramp up as quickly as possible.
Each conversation has been a mix of management strategy, responsiveness to unprecedented market conditions, protective measures for the health of employees and incredibly difficult triage to ensure the future of the company. We all are looking for ideas, triangulation of data, insights into what’s working for others, and insights to build the next playbook that will make each of our companies leaner, more productive and successful far into the “next normal.”
Some safety and JanSan products distributors we’ve interviewed have shared incredible stories of the ways they are serving frontline workers and managing supply shortages; others have seen their customers all but shut down. Many have taken aggressive and difficult measures to furlough team members to stay viable. What we all share in common is that none of us have experienced this level of isolation, economic deceleration and disruption to the “normal” ways of operating a business.
This is not a story you will see in the mainstream media. It’s not a “gotcha” story to attract eyeballs, such as the one that CNBC produced a few weeks ago on Grainger’s government contract for DuPont Tyvek suits. (There are deeper issues in the way government procurement policy has impacted smaller distributors, but an MDM report for another time). But it is an essential story about the incredible unseen and hidden value that independent distribution channels provide to create the most flexible economy in the world.
And that’s why I’m optimistic that over the next several months distribution will play such a critical role in getting our economy off its back and to fully functioning capacity as quickly as possible.
It’s also why I’m committed for our team to keep researching and highlighting over the next several months why North America’s distributors, through which 30% of annual U.S. GDP flows, is the reason why the U.S. economy will recover as quickly as it does.
We intentionally built this May 10 issue of MDM Premium to provide three key reports for distribution leaders to rethink how and where their teams can create opportunities to build a stronger and more adaptive company going forward. I’m so thankful during this time to have relationships with so many thought leaders across distribution who are thinking forward for the best short- and long-term moves to make to build deeper value in the future.
I wish you the best as you navigate these incredibly challenging times. Please contact me at [email protected] with your ideas on how MDM can help you in these coming months.