A Tribute to Stu Mechlin - Modern Distribution Management

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A Tribute to Stu Mechlin

Reflector of light, partner hero, rainmaker, relentlessness, passion: remembering an industry leader.

Reflector of light, partner hero, rainmaker, relentlessness, passion. These are a few things Stu Mechlin loved to talk about over the 20 years I have known him. He has been all these and much more. Well known in industrial supply markets, Stu died on Nov. 1, after more than seven years fighting cancer.

Stu Mechlin

Stu has been a good friend and generous contributor to the growth and success of MDM. He was one of the founding members of our editorial advisory board in 2006 and a contributing editor of many articles and blogs on strategy and marketing since the mid-1990s when he was still with Fel-Pro Chemical Products as director of marketing. He wrote articles on partnership skills, consultative selling and cultivating the customer relationship in industrial markets at a time when it was a mostly confrontational sales environment. He poked holes in conventional wisdom, not for the sake of doing so but to get better.

A mutual colleague shared that Stu was “old school.” Indeed he was in the best of ways. Stu came out of a powerful consumer marketing machine – McDonalds Corp. – and banking with a strong focus on value, training and execution. More than once he referred to himself as relentless, and he brought that powerful quality of total engagement to relationships and the organizations he served. What better lesson in marketing and life?

Stu was honored in 2011 when he retired with Affiliated Distributors’ Most Valuable Player Award. Through his 12 years as senior vice president for AD’s Industrial Division, he made it happen. He oversaw its growth, more than doubling membership, tripling revenues and increasing annual net distributions by nearly 500 percent. He was proud of hitting the numbers and then far surpassing expectations, no matter the arena.

Stu might boil that down to say he helped quite a few make money. That may be true, but of course it went far beyond that to his gifts in teaching – formally and informally. He helped many of us think differently and more strategically, his true passion. In the process he made significant contributions to the quality of the companies he worked with and the industry as a whole. He did the same in many deep and lasting friendships and continued work in the past few years as a member of several distribution company boards.

I have always admired Stu’s dedication to lifelong learning and his passion for so much in life – from cycling to roses. Before his MBA came degrees in history and political science, as well as horticulture/agriculture. I will deeply miss his energy, keen insight and constant smile.

Were Stu here in my office or on the phone with me today, he would tell me this is a great tribute, and then offer a small piece of advice to improve it, as he has done countless times to help me look better and increase the value of what I do for a living. Relentless about helping others.

Thank you, Stu.

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