As we have all come out of the pandemic, we are better together as an industry of 5.6 million people who create results, which collectively contribute $5.8 trillion annually to our GDP. As each of us have faced challenges not seen since in a long time, many playbooks are still being written. Many of our members are turning pages and heads with positive results and heartwarming stories of helping others.

Your NAW has faced many challenges over the last 16 months.  One of those has been the transition from a great leader in Dirk Van Dongen, who served the NAW as President and CEO for 41 years, to Eric Hoplin, NAW’s President and CEO since October 2020. This transition has been very successful! Our new president and CEO has already made a number of changes, such as upgrading our business systems and expanding our advocacy capabilities. Eric has reached out to many NAW members and association executives to listen to your specific challenges. If you have not yet spoken with Eric, I encourage you to do so. If you have only heard his enthusiasm and energy at the NAW Digital Summit in January, you will discover even more in a one-on-one (virtual) call with him.

Your association has done a tremendous job of connecting the selfless generosity of a number of NAW member companies to an effort that has contributed more than $500,000 in PPE and related supplies to the NAW/National Football League partnership. Over the last several months, NAW has partnered with the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks. NAW has coordinated with them on PPE supplies for their respective facilities, as mass vaccination sites. These efforts are nothing short of inspiring and are a true testament to the American spirit, entrepreneurship, and commitment in helping our fellow Americans. To those distributors who have been on the front lines of vaccination donations, thank you for helping our nation with COVID-19 vaccine distribution. To all distributors who never let up over the last year, thank you for all that you have done and are doing today to keep our economy going, businesses open, employees working, and our communities served.

To help move our country past the COVID-19 pandemic, NAW launched another partnership at the start of June with the National League of Cities to provide small and mid-size cities with needed supplies and PPE as they work to boost local vaccination rates, reopen city buildings and community centers, and protect teachers and students returning to classroom instruction. We are pleased to say that NAW has coordinated another $1,000,000 in PPE donations. So together with the NFL initiative, our industry came forward with more than $1.5 million in PPE donations.

The spotlight has shone brightly on our industry during the pandemic and now during the recovery.  One of the near-term efforts NAW is working towards is to better market the function and people of distribution!  Please continue to share your stories via social media using the hashtag #DistributorsDeliver so we can continue to elevate the visibility of our vital industry.

On other fronts during the pandemic and now as we emerge from it, NAW’s government relations team of Jade West, Blake Adami, and Seth Waugh have continued their tireless work for each of us through regular Critical Updates emails that provide not only COVID-19 guidance, but also legal perspectives from federal agencies. As our nation settles in with the new leadership in Washington, DC, lobbying for reasonable business taxation and regulation becomes more important than ever.

In the area of thought leadership during these unprecedented times, NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence Fellow Mark Dancer has captured many lessons and stories from across our industry that we can all learn something from in this just-released e-chapter: Distribution Leans In: Stories of Resiliency and Innovation During the COVID-19 Pandemic. I hope you will consider reading it.

There are more changes coming from your NAW in the coming months. As chairman, I thank every current member of this association and I encourage you to recommend just one new member to Dan Schuberth. The power of one can be tremendous.

Be well and healthy.

Mike Medart

NAW Chairman