GAWDA Annual: A Glimpse into the “Silver Tsunami of Change” as a Distributor | news
Over 915 verified GAWDA attendees heard that independent distributors will ride through the silver tsunami as one generation hands over the reins of a company to another generation, who then assume leadership rights.
“Most family businesses are going to go through that and be part of the silver tsunami,” he gushed.
In a room where many family-run businesses have gathered, exploring the silver tsunami and analyzing how best to transition a business from one generation to the next couldn’t be more timely.
Looking at the dealer market alone, Beveridge said the market is part of a $7 trillion economic engine that creates over six million jobs. “And they’re not just jobs,” he told the room. “They create meaning and purpose for each individual and serve key industries.”
Putting the importance of distributors into perspective, he said, “Independent distributors are the backbone of this country. Almost everything a consumer gets has been touched or handled in some way by a retailer.”
With that in mind, it’s clear that there are big shoes to fill when it comes to this Building a bridge for future leaders, the theme of this year’s GAWDA Convention.
However, Beveridge is no stranger to the sales space and in fact works with many in this space through We Supply America. An organization that now celebrates the novel generation’s mission, which is moving distribution into the future.
To achieve this, Beveridge set out to tell the stories of independent distributors who cared about their employees, customers and communities before, during and after the pandemic through We Supply America – and has worked with several GAWDA members in the process.
Beveridge again shared the stories of some of the distributors at GAWDA Annual 2022 and moderated a panel discussion with Norco Chairman James Kissler, Norco CEO Nicole Kissler, Earlbeck Gases and Technologies CEO Jim Earlbeck, and Earlbeck Gases Chief Operating Representative Alison Earlbeck and Technologies.
Both family-run US distributors, Earlbeck and Norco, each have a unique story to tell – and both were highlighted through a series of discussions and debates, while Beveridge delved deeply into a series of anecdotes from each panelist.
Nicole Kissler and Alison Earlbeck, both second-generation leaders in their family business, had a different story to tell about how they ended up in the industrial gas distribution field. For Alison Earlbeck it took time, for Nicole Kisser she knew from a young age that she wanted to be there.
Speaking of her experience, Alison Earlbeck said: “When I first got into the business 11 years ago, I wasn’t really convinced [going into the family business]. However, after much discussion about it, I realized that I had to find my purpose why I wanted to be a part of it. And I did.”
“My goal was for me to feel very protective and loyal to employees and customers. Once I found that goal, it was a lot easier for me. But my father sent me out with everyone in the company for a few days to get to know each individual role in the company better.”
“As part of that, I spent eight or nine hours a day with one of our drivers and he was brave enough to ask if I would stay [in the business]. I had never thought about it from an employee’s perspective before, but then he almost sold me for staying with the company. He said the staff wanted to think about it and know what’s next.”
“That’s when I realized it was a great honor to help these guys and help continue the family legacy.”
However, Nicole Kissler’s story was different. She always knew. Explaining this, she told the participants: “I had a different transition. I knew very, very early on that I wanted to be a part of Norco. I was very lucky to have this direction. My grandfather’s planning gave me this path to spend time in other businesses and then work my way up into Norco. It was an amazing experience but very different because I knew from the start that I wanted to be part of our amazing business.”
Regarding Alison Earlbeck’s important focus on people, Nicole Kissler emphasized that this is also an important factor for her. “People are the key and a company is the people. Our incredible team, the time and energy they put into the company and our customers is incredible and they make such an impact on our customers and they feel a sense of pride and purpose. The people piece is key,” she enthused.
It goes without saying that these two women will now be very important leaders in their company, but what about the other side of the story? What is it like to be a CEO or executive who will soon be passing your company on to the second generation? That’s exactly what Beveridge asked James Kissler and Jim Earlbeck.
Sharing his perspective, Jim Earlbeck explained, “There is an ending. I think it’s going to be difficult for some leaders to let go because it’s all they’ve known their entire lives. However, it wasn’t difficult for me. My job performance does not define my whole purpose in life. It’s easier to make the transition when you also know what you’re going to make the transition. You have to think about what gives you value and what stimulates you.”
“It’s about developing the mindset of saying, ‘Okay, this is the circle of life and I’m ready for it,’ and you can share your experiences with those who are rising in the industry. I also remember being in the second generation position, the position that Alison was in, and you’re thinking what happens next. I thought about it and knew it was time to move on.”
“It has become clear to me that Alison cannot be in the leaders seat while I am in the leaders seat. Furthermore, we owe it to our customers for the continuity of our business. We have to make sure we have a company that can last two, three or four generations and offer them the same reliable products and services that we offer today.”
James Kissler, taking a similar stance, said: “We’re all going to make ends meet, so we have to think about your own mortality. You have to build a team that you can trust. Nicole is increasing her role and building a solid team that understands that our culture is key. As you get older, you have to let others take the reins.”
“It’s inevitable. The circle of life. You have to see it that way, and when your time is up to run this company, you have to hand it over. I saw my father do it and I copied what he did.”
In addition to the above, this morning’s panel discussion also included other discussions about the silver tsunami and other changes within the industry. Other discussions and debates will continue to be explored gasworldwide coverage of the GAWDA Annual Convention 2022 in November gasWorld US Edition.
That evening, attendees of the event will gather on the USS Midway for the President’s farewell gala.