The 2020 Mid-Year Economic Update_long

A Tribute to Roy: Nearly 50 Years in Distribution

When one of my mentors in this industry emailed me in December to let me know that he had just left his office for the last time at the company he had been with for 48 years, it struck me how much impact he has had on so many people in this industry. Those who know him will appreciate that he included the exact minute of his departure, not because he couldn't wait to bust out, but because of the well-known attention to detail he brought to running and growing his business over several decades.
 
I first met Roy Otto, former owner of Machine Tool Supply in Eagan, MN, about 25 years ago, when he was the chair of a publications committee for the state's tooling and machining association. He has been a teacher without seeming like one to many people in this industry and beyond. He ...

When one of my mentors in this industry emailed me in December to let me know that he had just left his office for the last time at the company he had been with for 48 years, it struck me how much impact he has had on so many people in this industry. Those who know him will appreciate that he included the exact minute of his departure, not because he couldn’t wait to bust out, but because of the well-known attention to detail he brought to running and growing his business over several decades.
 
I first met Roy Otto, former owner of Machine Tool Supply in Eagan, MN, about 25 years ago, when he was the chair of a publications committee for the state’s tooling and machining association. He has been a teacher without seeming like one to many people in this industry and beyond. He has been extremely generous in sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm for the industry, and has been a strong role model for hundreds of employees, peers, suppliers and competitors.
 
I learned a lot about distribution and business management from Roy, including artful negotiation skills, problem resolution and the importance of a sense of humor -useful tools for any volunteer committee! Roy’s positive and methodical approach to any challenge at hand has also been inspirational to many. He taught me about the power of personal integrity and priorities, how to apply that in business and the value of building strong relationships that characterize the strength of so many successful distributors.
 
Roy started in the warehouse of the company in 1959, worked hard and moved into inside and outside sales. It was natural that he ended up with an equity stake. He eventually bought out various partners and expanded into Wisconsin, where he created a joint venture and also became involved in another machine tool business. Roy had a carefully planned exit strategy, sold his business a few years ago, and stayed on to assist the new ownership as part of a careful transition.
 
In a recent phone call, Roy remarked with the same level of enthusiasm he brings to every conversation how much change he has seen in his career in distribution -from very exclusive representation of manufacturers to the evolution of systems contracts to distributors becoming much more like independent agents for customers. And not surprisingly, Roy said the timing seemed right to walk out of the office for the last time to start the next phase of his life. Thanks, Roy, for what you’ve given to this industry, and for connecting so many people. Best of luck!

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