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NAW’s Powerful “Time and Value” Proposition

Chairman's Column - April 2014

Dan M. Blaylock
NAW 2014 Chairman of the Board
President, Adams-Burch, Inc.

At the NAW Executive Summit this past January, I had the opportunity to share my thoughts about the value of belonging to NAW with the large number of wholesaler-distributors who participated. I feel strongly about those comments so I want to share them also with wholesale distribution leaders who weren’t able to join us in Washington, DC.

The group in that large ballroom represented an unmatched collection of intellectual capital. The genius of the annual NAW Executive Summit is it gives each of us the opportunity to network with experienced distribution executives at discussion roundtables, receptions, and dinners over the course of a few days. That opportunity alone compels most of us to return to the NAW Executive Summit year after year. Despite how valuable that networking opportunity is, when you look at the totality of NAW, you realize the NAW Executive Summit is only the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

For example, NAW’s Government Relations team is incredibly effective at giving our industry a powerful voice in the legislative process. I recognize that some of us in distribution may feel either disconnected from or disinterested in national politics. However, the last five years clearly demonstrate that decisions made in Washington have a significant impact on the bottom-line results of every distributor. NAW’s Government Relations team provides our industry with a seat at the table that allows us to potentially minimize the damaging impact of ill-considered law making. Whether it’s trying to lower tax rates and preserve LIFO in tax reform, affordable changes to Obama Care, labor–management relations issues, and a host of others, NAW is proactively leading and participating in coalitions and advocating on behalf of our membership with federal legislators and regulators to help us manage our business as we see fit so that we can earn and retain profits. Each of our companies must aggressively leverage this extraordinary firepower by financially supporting NAW to the greatest extent possible. I believe the failure to do so is nothing less than an abdication of our leadership responsibilities.

In terms of industry intelligence, we can also benefit from the leading-edge research, trends, and strategic management studies that are produced by the NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence. The NAW Institute has for years identified the brightest lights in academia and the consulting community and focused its efforts on identifying and offering solutions for the various strategic management challenges that the distribution community faces. If you look back at the amazing portfolio of books and white papers that the NAW Institute has published over the last two decades, it is clear that NAW has significantly moved the needle within our industry in terms of improving both our strategic thinking and level of sophistication.

Then there is the NAW Service Corporation which leverages wholesaler-distributors’ aggregated spend in ways that allow us to pick and choose at our discretion from a menu of high-quality business programs at competitive rates.

The bottom line is that all of us as leaders in wholesale distribution are dealing with an extremely challenging business environment that is constantly throwing us unforeseen curveballs from unexpected directions at a much more accelerated rate than ever before.

Because of the immense challenges we face in running our businesses, it seems to me that Direct Membership in NAW is very much like a silver bullet for us, because NAW anticipates a lot of the issues that we as distribution leaders are facing and will face in the future. NAW dramatically simplifies the complexities created by an Internet-enabled, globalized, ultra-competitive marketplace. At the NAW Executive Summit and Billion Dollar Company and Large Company Roundtables, and via “ASK NAW, you can glean advice from industry veterans in other channels who have already faced and dealt with the same challenges that you are just beginning to see in your own channel.

My personal belief is that the time and money I have invested in NAW have provided my company with a greater ROI than I could ever have achieved elsewhere. If your firm has never become an NAW Direct Member, or if you have discontinued your Direct Membership, please do yourself and your business a huge favor and join NAW. If you already are a Direct Member, then please find a friend in your industry whom you like and respect and bring them to the NAW Executive Summit next January.

As wholesale distribution executives, the battle for our attention tends to be around “time” and “value,” and I can tell you that NAW provides us with so much value that making the time for NAW becomes a natural and deliberate step on our part. Why would you not support an organization through Direct Membership that provides you with all this value consistently during any given year and is always respectful of your time commitment and attention? In terms of keeping your company successful and sustainable for the long term, Direct Membership in NAW is one of the most intelligent and beneficial moves your company can make.