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Why My Company Is an NAW Direct Member

Chairman's Column - November 2011

Dennis Hatchell, Alex Lee Inc.
2011 NAW Chairman of the Board

Having been involved with NAW for more than eight years, I’ve found that networking and benchmarking through NAW with wholesale distribution companies in lines of trade other than my own to be probably the most important value of our company’s membership. I know many grocery/foodservice wholesalers, but NAW gives me the opportunity to get to know wholesaler-distributors in dozens of other lines of trade—from woodworking machinery and plastics to pools—that I’d otherwise never cross paths with, and I’ve found it to be extremely valuable! Though we’re all in different lines of trade within wholesale distribution, we’re really all in the same basic business and as such, we have much to learn from each other. One of the key attributes of NAW is that the more people are involved in this organization, the more valuable and powerful all of our individual experiences become.

I can also recommend from personal experience that NAW events, such as the NAW Executive Summit and the NAW Billion Dollar Company CEO Roundtable, are excellent opportunities for free-flowing networking and benchmarking with peers. Senior executives at these events are able to discuss challenges common to wholesale distribution with other noncompeting companies. From these meetings we take great ideas back to our companies for implementation and we begin to realize significant productivity improvements, cost reductions, and refined operations.

Besides networking, I think that if you ask most NAW direct members, they would say that NAW’s government relations advocacy program is the other reason they support NAW. Through its many government relations activities, NAW connects our industry with leading policy makers at the federal level whose decisions have a major impact on our companies. Our businesses need NAW’s direct lobbying, grassroots lobbying, and coalition leadership to advocate for us in Washington, DC.

Today, as our economy remains sluggish, my company’s direct membership in NAW is especially beneficial. That’s why I encourage other wholesaler-distributors to join NAW or, if your company is already an NAW member, to remain a member. So, whether you value the government relations aspect or the networking and benchmarking aspect of your membership in NAW, I hope you will tell your colleagues and peers to join or renew their NAW direct membership. Just knowing that NAW is our partner and is working on our behalf allows each of us to put our focus where it needs to be, on our companies, in these challenging times.