Vallen Distribution’s Joyce Lansdale credits numerous mentors along the way that helped propel her to her current position of vice president of corporate accounts. Now, Lansdale is all about giving back to help both younger women and men foster their careers at Vallen.
Vallen Distribution has 3,400 employees in 120 operating locations across the United States. Hagemeyer North America and IDG merged in 2014 to form Vallen Distribution in 2016. The company is a subsidiary of Sonepar, which is a large, family-owned business based in Paris, France.
Lansdale has been an employee of Vallen/Hagemeyer for more than 20 years and has been in her current role for the past six. She was nominated for Modern Distribution Management’s Women in Distribution Awards by her boss at Vallen, Will Lutz, who is senior vice president at Hagemeyer North America.
“She has a proven track recorded of negotiating win/win partnerships on a national scale with our customers and supplier partners,” says Lutz in his nomination form. “Joyce has always been an industry leader as she currently sits on the Board of ISA.”
Lansdale says Vallen, which is an industrial and MRO distributor, has long been an advocate of women in the industry, but dating back to her early days at Hagemeyer in the 2000s she remembers being the only woman at a meeting.
“I remember one gentleman once saying to me, ‘So what are you doing here? What do you do for the organization?’ I’m like, ‘Well, I do the same thing that you do,’” Lansdale says.
“It never really dawned on me that it was that big of a deal. But when I look back at it now, it is kind of was a big deal that I was the only girl in the room. I was able to do that with the support of others.”
Among other mentors, Lansdale credits Chris Union, who was a senior leader of sales at Hagemeyer North America during the beginning of her career at that company, and Bob Cordingley, from when she worked at Georgia Pacific.
A network of support
“Chuck Delph, the president at Vallen, is really a huge advocate of women in the industry,” Lansdale says. “He played a pivotal part in the creation of VICKIE, which is the women’s organization that we created at Vallen.”
VICKIE, which is an acronym for “Voices Inspiring Change, Knowledge, Innovation and Empowerment,” is Vallen’s employee resource group that was designed to recruit strong, diverse candidates from both inside and outside of the business with the eventual goal of giving them a boost up to leadership positions within the company.
Prior to the launch of VICKIE last year, Lansdale was a member of the Industrial Supply Association’s successful Women Industrial Supply Executives (W.I.S.E.) program that was founded by General Industrial Tool & Supply CEO Kathleen Durbin in 2011.
In 2019, Lansdale says Delph tasked her to create a similar organization within Vallen that promoted some of the same goals as W.I.S.E. Lansdale chatted with Durbin and Tammy Livers, SVP of sales enablement and customer experience for Sonepar USA, about how to create what would become VICKIE while also collaborating internally with Vallen counterparts Kim Garrett, VP financial shared service center, and Sonia Timmons, VP financial planning and analysis.
“Together, we mapped out what we wanted, what our mission was, what we wanted to accomplish,” Lansdale says. “And it wasn’t just that we wanted to have—I call it tea and cupcakes or wine and cheese—happy hours for ladies. We really wanted to be able to create a network where women could get together virtually or face-to-face to learn from each other share and their stories.
“As VICKIE was being created, we realized that there are a lot of younger women who want to excel in the industry, but they don’t really understand what they need to do in order to get there.”
VICKIE is open to both women and men as a means for taking a guided first step onto a career ladder that could ultimately result in leadership roles at Vallen. Lansdale said Vallen is on its second generation of VICKIE as some of the early participants are now starting to take on leadership roles.
“The industry is graying as a lot of our senior associates, regardless of the work category that they operate in, are retiring over the course of the next five to 10 years,” Lansdale says. “Because of people aging out, we need to attract more younger individuals into the channel. Creating diversity, creating more inclusion in terms of not just gender but all of the other categories of diversity is an excellent focus for not just Vallen and not just ISA but the entire distribution channel.”
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