Industrial Supply Association CEO Brendan Breen sowed this seed of inspiration when he took the stage to kick off the ISA’s Fall Summit:
“We all have the opportunity to be part of something greater.”
His sentiment reverberated throughout the summit, setting a tone of unity, growth and purpose among the nearly 230 attendees. We were all brought together by a single mission – to learn, connect and elevate not only ourselves but also our peers, our organizations and the entire industry.
People were there, not just for the standard industry discussion, they were there because they crave purpose. They want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They want to make an impact and know their work matters. They know that when they help their people grow, the company grows, as well.
This yearning came through the content that was curated on stage with each speaker, focused on personal, professional and organization development. And it was electrified in the moments of collaboration that happened at receptions and in pickleball matches.
True to Brendan’s words, ISA’s Fall Summit reached “beyond the job.” Such transformative experiences don’t just happen; they are meticulously crafted. A heartfelt salute to the ISA team for their tireless efforts. They promised a summit that would offer insights, skills and connections. They over-delivered.
ISA members and their volunteer committees are a Force for Good. It’s more than a mantra. It’s a way of life, a conscious choice of seeing the best in ourselves and the world around us.
It’s why it was an honor to encapsulate this journey of enlightenment and empowerment in my closing keynote, “Unleashing Possibilities as a Force for Good.”
I had just 60 minutes on that stage. In that brief time, I viewed that my only job was to be present for each individual sitting in that room. To help people see something in themselves they may have missed in the hustle and bustle of the everyday. To remind them of the nobility of the work. To help them become better versions of themselves.
Sure, I can draw on the experiences I had through the Future of Distribution research or my consulting work. But what speaks most to me is my time on the road, visiting dozens of distributors, meeting their people and hearing their stories.
The truth is, the We Supply America tour has been the catalyst for my own shifting outlook. A belief that doubles down on the notion that independent distributors are a Force for Good, a force that does more than drive bottom-line results but also elevates their people.
So, I spoke of Matt, a 27-year-old branch manager who left a billion-dollar company for a place that valued people over profit. Or Chico, who felt trapped in his job with “no light at the end of the tunnel” and unable to provide for his family until he came to his current company. Now, he feels that he has the opportunity to grow beyond his wildest dreams. I spoke of Brandon, a service technician who spends all day with a wrench in his hand, repairing transmissions so farmers have the combines needed to harvest the food that feeds America.
“We’re doing things that help human beings every single day. We’re moving society forward.”
Each We Supply America stop was a treasure trove of stories, many of triumph and some of tragedy. But each, a documentary of what drives the human spirit. A case study of leadership, of purpose.
Instead of facts and figures, I shared not the clichéd stories of overcoming adversity. The authentic stories of forklift operators and warehouse associates, going beyond the racks of products, being there for one another and helping one another unleash their full potential.
And what I found in that room were leaders – young and old – that embrace this Force for Good. Motivated to grow their people, grow their business and grow their impact.
I was deeply humbled to learn from one of ISA’s LinkedIn posts that my message hit the mark.
Even more humbled to hear Brendan tell the roomful of attendees:
“He’s tapping into something that’s really special. For me personally, he makes me feel passionate about the industry I serve. He makes me feel passionate about my job every day. I think you will all walk with that same feeling.”
After wrapping up my presentation, I walked to the back of the room as Brendan took the stage. I was met by a gentleman, suitcase in hand, who offered me a handshake and said, “Thank you, we needed that.”
What I didn’t get a chance to say as he hurried on to catch his flight, was that I needed it, too. This industry is the backbone of this country, and I am just as inspired by what you do every day.
Dirk Beveridge is the founder of UnleashWD, Executive Producer at We Supply America, President of the Beveridge Consulting Group, and Champion for the noble calling of distribution for over 37 years. He often speaks at company and association meetings to share his one-of-a-kind perspective on leadership, the future of wholesale distribution and how distributors are a Force for Good. Learn more about Dirk by visiting WeSupplyAmerica.net.