Embassy Group recently celebrated its 25th anniversary at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo., by mixing an informative general session for its shareholders with a grand gala later that evening.

The first day of the cooperative’s general session included a timely discussion on the upcoming federal changes to overtime regulations, which will affect small-business owners such as PHCP-PVF distributors.

Embassy brought in attorney Nora Kersten Walsh from the Chicago-based law firm Schiff Hardin to speak on the subject. Schiff Hardin has been Embassy’s attorney for its entire existence. Kersten Walsh spent about an hour detailing the new overtime regulations that are slated to go into effect Dec. 1 (raising the minimum overtime exempt threshold from $455 a week to $913 per week for employees) and answered many questions from Embassy shareholders on the topic.

Kersten Walsh had some advice to employers in terms of communicating the changes to affected employees. “Assure your people that this does not affect their standing in the company,” she said. “This is not a demotion. You have to do this because the federal rules require you to do it. Train your people about the law.”

For more details on the new overtime regulations, read ASA Director of Government Affairs Dan Hilton’s column at www.supplyht.com.

Attendees then heard from former Navy Captain Mike Abrashoff, former commander of the USS Benfold. Abrashoff, whose book “It’s Your Ship,” is a New York Times Business Bestseller, provided a bounty of leadership anecdotes from his time aboard Benfold.

“Would you want your sons or daughters to come to work for your company?” he asked. “If the answer is yes, then you should be proud of your company. Create a culture where you want your sons and daughters to come to work at a place where they will be safe, they will get something out of it and they have the opportunity to take care of their families.”

Abrashoff was known as an innovator and risk-taker during the time he transformed Benfold into one of the Navy’s top ships. He encouraged Embassy owners to do the same.

“Think about where the rust might be in your organization,” he said. “You may have walked past it for 20 years. Stop obsessing over the things you can’t influence and start obsessing over the things you can and then realize that things will be OK.”

Abrashoff spoke about the change of command ceremony for the captain who preceded him where it was revealed crew members mockingly cheered his departure. “Do you want to leave to tears or jeers?” he asked. “Think about your change of command ceremony. Think about what your leadership story is. Create a level of trust with your people. Let them know you care about them and they will have your back. That kind of leadership doesn’t cost a dime.”

Attendees also heard from representatives of InSinkErator and Charlotte Pipe, two Embassy suppliers that sponsored the evening dinner celebration at picturesque Cheyenne Lodge. In addition to a bountiful food and refreshments spread and unlimited networking and socializing time, the evening included the opportunity to get a photo taken with a bald eagle and to view and pet several wolves.

“We could see early on that we were involved with something that was going to be successful,” said Charlotte Pipe Chairman and CEO Frank Dowd, who noted Charlotte’s relationship with Embassy dates back to the group’s 1991 start.”

InSinkErator Senior Vice President of Global Sales Rob Grim added: “Embassy is a phenomenal group. We’ve built some great relationships in this group and look forward to many more years here.”


This article was originally titled “Silver anniversary” in the September 2016 print edition of Supply House Times.