The torch-passing process officially is underway for the WIT & Co. buying group.
At WIT’s 2017 Fall Networking Meeting at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah, Brandy Reed was introduced as the group’s executive vice president/COO candidate to replace the retiring Charlie Moorhead.
Moorhead, an industry veteran, will retire in March around the time of the group’s annual Distributor/Vendor Conference in Dallas and will help with Reed’s transition into the EVP/COO position, while remaining available for consulting. Reed’s current title is vice president-executive director.
Current WIT President Brian Cobble of G.W. Berkheimer Co., labeled Reed’s hiring “a unanimous and enthusiastic selection.”
“What attracted me to WIT is the transparency of the organization,” Reed told Supply House Times in Salt Lake City. “It always has been important to me to work for a company that has very high-standing legal, moral and ethical backgrounds and ideals. I was impressed with how candid and honest the owners are with each other. It’s a very straightforward group that wasn’t trying to hide anything. Any concerns I had they explained right away. They made me feel very comfortable. They are willing to work together to try and find a common ground or find a resolution to a certain issue they are facing.”
Reed worked for the last 12 1/2 years at Vizient, one of the largest member-driven health-care and process-improvement companies in the country, responsible for more than $100 billion in member annual purchase volume and provides services for more than one-third of the nation’s hospitals and 97% of the nation’s academic medical centers.
During her career at Vizient, Reed held a variety of positions, including a two-year stint where she actively managed supply-chain programs with more than $3 billion in supplier sales. She also was responsible for developing and implementing standardization and process-improvement programs between suppliers and customers across multiple regions within the company.
“I managed and directed a pay-for-performance rebate-type program and am hoping to marry some of my knowledge from that rebate program into how WIT operates,” Reed said.
Reed noted during her last two years at Vizient she handled contract administration and group eligibility, while launching a national enrollment tool where members are able to sign up for specific contracts or tier contracts.
“I’m hoping to marry the rebate part, as well as the technology part and bring some other best practices into the plumbing and HVAC areas,”
At Vizient, Reed had dealings with both distributors and vendors. “The basis for the medical business I worked at is to negotiate contracts between medical-supply companies and hospitals and try to improve the economic and clinical performance of those hospitals.”
Reed, a graduate of the Mays Business School at Texas A&M, said owners and vendor partners shouldn’t be shocked if she asks a lot of questions. “Generally, I’m a curious person,” she said. “I do like to ask a lot of questions. If I’m not familiar with how something works, I like to dive in and learn about it. I’m very big on process improvements. If I see something that doesn’t seem to make sense or see it working in a different way, I can bring my knowledge from the medical industry into the plumbing and HVAC arena.”
Right out of Texas A&M, Reed worked in copier-machines sales and also performed audit and compliance work for a securities firm. “I was cold-calling people 100% of the time with the copier sales position,” she says. “It was not an easy job, but what I did find valuable was it got me out in front of people and I was able to meet a wide-variety of people.”
In recent years, WIT has taken big steps forward on the technology front to best help its owners and vendor partners succeed, something Reed plans on continuing.
“You cannot underestimate how big the technology piece is,” she said. “Someone once told me it’s not the big that eat the small, it’s the fast that eat the slow. If we are able to launch and employ technology that makes us that much better than our competition, then that puts us in an even better place in the marketplace.”
Reed referenced WIT’s acronym, which stands for “We Invest Together.” “It’s the power of the group coming together and wanting to move forward and strengthen their businesses and the industry,” she said.
She also lauded the efforts of Moorhead in helping her settle into her new position. “Charlie has been a great sounding board,” she said. “He’s introducing me to a lot of people and has given me essentially a data dump of information from his years in the industry. He’s been like a mentor and coach, which I greatly appreciate.”
In terms of goals for the future, Reed is focusing on the short-term. “It would be pretty premature to state very specific goals,” she said. “I do have a 90-day plan centered around things I would like to do around the office. It’s really more focused on getting out and meeting people in the industry and getting to know the WIT staff.”
Fall Networking Meeting notes
Also during the Fall Networking Meeting, WIT welcomed new member North Shore Plumbing Supply out of Flushing, N.Y. North Shore is a third-generation family-owned distributor with 25 employees.
Additionally, a special technology roundtable presentation was held during the group’s general session. The roundtable was moderated by WIT consultant Mike Workman and featured a panel that included Brad Bolton (Cregger Co.), Tom Jones (service provider LBMX), Bill Maxwell (M&L Supply) and WIT technology guru and Director of IT Kevin Roquemore.
Among the topics discussed included using cellphones as a prime technology avenue in a business. “We have to leverage that technology and bring the customer to the business,” Bolton said. “It’s the greatest tool in the bag because everybody has one.”
Maxwell stressed the importance of embracing e-commerce technology and its proper deployment. “If we can’t get the customer to what they are looking for in less than three clicks, we have failed,” he says. “We don’t want the customers to stop calling, but we want them to have access to information after 5 p.m. These small-to-medium guys utilize technology. They don’t work
7 a.m. to 5 p.m. They are doing their paperwork and ordering supplies at night. These are the components that will bring you closer to the customer. And when you do that, they will rely on you even more. It’s about providing more information for customers to utilize.”
WIT owners and guests also had the opportunity to tour member distributor Standard Plumbing Supply’s massive complex in Sandy, Utah, prior to adjourning up to the Park City area and the Olympic Village for an evening of networking and entertainment.
WIT’s 2018 Distributor/Vendor Conference takes place March 6-8 at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas. That meeting shifts to the Gaylord Texan Hotel in nearby Grapevine starting in 2019 (Feb. 26-28). The 2018 Fall Networking Meeting is Sept. 4-6 in Boston.
This article was originally titled “Dawn of a new era” in the November 2017 print edition of Supply House Times.