The 2014 North Central Wholesalers Association Convention featured a changing of the guard.
This year’s event at the Sheraton Suites in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, saw Scott Robertson (Alliance, Ohio-based Robertson Heating Supply) conclude his two-year term as NCWA president. He’ll be replaced by Howard Wolff, president of Medina, Ohio-based Wolff Brothers Supply.

Robertson noted NCWA had made key strides over the last few years with the addition of manufacturer-distributor meetings, enhancements to the annual golf outing (this year’s was held at Firestone Country Club) and an increase in attendance at the annual convention. This year’s event drew 165 attendees representing distributors, manufacturers and manufacturers reps. NCWA also offers a unique opportunity each year for its members to tour a fellow distributor’s facility. Recent tours included Wolff Brothers and Cincinnati-based Keidel Supply.

“Attendance at the convention has improved from 2012,” Robertson said. “One of my goals was to tweak the convention and add more value and get attendance up.”

Another initiative for Robertson was to work to increase NCWA membership. “A lot of associations and service clubs in general are not gaining members, he said. “We’ve bucked that trend. We’ve netted 14 new members to NCWA in the last two years. We have 60 different wholesale companies and that’s up from 53 two years ago.”

In addition to Wolff, new board members include Toby Morris (Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Etna Supply) and Mike Burton (Keidel Supply). They replace outgoing board members Gary Glanzman (Columbus, Ohio-based Eastway Supplies) and Jay Hults (Warren, Mich.-based Progressive Plumbing Supply). Glanzman and Hults were honored for their long-term board memberships.

Selling and corporate lifecycles

Earlier in the day, Peabody Supply’s Domenic Messina talked about his experience selling a distribution company. Messina was part of a group that sold the New England-based distributor to Hajoca Corp. in July of last year.

Messina talked about the various stages of the sales process, including the thought process behind selling the company and determining the company’s value. Messina, also the president of the Wholesale Association of New England (WANE), still works for Peabody, a division of Hajoca, as New England district manager.

Corporate LifeCycles founder Ian MacDougall then talked about the same subject as his company’s name — corporate lifecycles. MacDougall asked three key questions at the beginning of his two-part, well-received presentation: What does it take to be a good company? Why do most organizations fail to get to that stage of being a good company? And is it easier being the champion in your industry or remaining the champion?

The remainder of MacDougall’s presentation helped answer those questions. He noted companies have to get four important roles right: produce, administer, entrepreneur and integrate. He added that anytime any of those roles are not being performed, there will be mismanagement.

He also talked about various management and mismanagement styles, the lifecycle stages companies go through, as well as the causes of organizational aging (relative perceived market share, mental age of key people, organization structure and leadership).

“You are not going to be a great company unless you have the right team,” MacDougall told the group.

The 2015 NCWA Convention will be held June 2-3 at the Columbus, Ohio Marriott NW. The golf outing is scheduled for Tartan Fields Golf Club on June 2.