North Central Wholesalers Association 2019 convention’s experiment with a resort destination was a smash hit on a number of fronts.

Feedback was positive from attendees about the convention’s location at the historic Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. NCWA sent out a survey to attendees, gauging their interest in having the convention at a resort location in future years. Next year’s event returns to Columbus, Ohio.

More importantly, Greenbrier attendees were treated to a barrage of strong educational sessions headlined by Dr. Alan Zimmerman’s keynote workshop centered on the “Power of Partnership.”

“People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care,” Zimmerman told the audience during his three-hour talk.

Zimmerman listed three levels of respect: rudeness, apathy and warmth, with warmth being the obvious preferred choice in a customer-service setting. “Producers want their internal and external customers to feel special, so they treat them like special guests in their homes,” he explained. “Producers do whatever they can to figure out and meet the needs, wants and expectations of their internal and external customers.”

Zimmerman cited a 3M survey that reveals it takes seven positive comments to overcome one negative. “The No. 1 job complaint is if I do 100 things right I never hear about it, but if I do one thing wrong, they’re down my throat,” he said. “That’s the dumbest way to manage people.”

Zimmerman added enthusiasm in any setting has power. “Enthusiasm is contagious,” he noted. “People love to do business with those who love what they are doing. Someone said, ‘Enthusiasm reflects confidence, spreads good cheer, raises morale, inspires associates, arouses loyalty, and laughs at adversity. It’s beyond price.’”

Zimmerman then cited the famous Winston Churchill quote: “The pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

Other highlights from Zimmerman’s workshop included tips on how to ask brave questions (“Go deeper than normal chit chat and discover more information than informal conversation.”) and ways to recognize and impact productivity in a company, including the use of hand-written notes.

Earlier in the morning, NCWA’s Young Executives group held its annual breakfast and hosted another informative roundtable discussion, helmed by Oatey National Sales Manager Patrick Aquino, and New Century Sales’ Marc Machnak, the chair of the NCWA Young Executives Committee. This year’s roundtable centered on how young executives have helped their companies remain relevant.

During the roundtable panel discussion, the conversation turned to Amazon and its effect in the supply chain. While Amazon certainly is prevalent, participants in the roundtable gave a huge vote of confidence for wholesale distribution.

“Oatey continues to believe in the wholesale model and we want to partner with our distributor partners,” Aquino said.

Machnak added: “The manufacturers we rep still feel wholesale is the best way to go to market.”

However, Aquino stressed in today’s changing environment, companies must continue to evolve. “We’re getting out of our comfort zone,” he said. “For example, our QuickDrain product has opened up a lot of doors with showrooms and hospitality for us. We’ve challenged ourselves and our partners to get out of their comfort zones.”

Employee retention also was a topic of conversation during the breakfast meeting. “We focus on culture,” BWA South Partner Jen Morton told the group. “We are all about team-building and keeping a good work environment that people want to be part of.”

Aquino noted Oatey started its own young executives division internally that has grown from five to 100 people. “We’re not reinventing the wheel,” he said. “We keep it simple. There is no secret sauce. Listen to people and let their voices be heard. We see tremendous value in these types of things.”

Hajoca Midwest Regional Leader Kim Disandis wrapped up the event with a presentation on her journey in leadership.

NCWA’s 2019 president is Keidel Supply’s Mike Barton. Plumbers & Factory Supplies’ Chris Reynolds is the treasurer.