Tom Hammel 2017-10-03 01:54:06
In addition to growing up in the family business, Michelle St. John, president and treasurer of Industrial Bolt and Supply (IBS) has also grown up in STAFDA. She is proud of the fact that she is actually a second-generation board member of the association, following in her father’s footsteps. She counts Morrie and Patsy Halvorsen among her early STAFDA acquaintances and vividly recalls how her father would return from STAFDA conventions with bags of goodies and stacks of notes to prioritize for action. “It’s easy for us as business owners to develop a model and then defend it instead of allowing it to be challenged,” she observes. “STAFDA offers us that opportunity to be challenged. You may be a second-generation distributor who’s got a really well oiled machine like my brother and I have, and the risk would be to just coast along and say, ‘See? We’re doing all the best practices STAFDA says we should be doing.’ But the challenge is to think ahead and recognize that STAFDA is always looking to next-generation ideas.” “One thing my dad did really well was to instill in us the idea that these ideas could change the profitability of our company. Industry gurus like Bruce Merrifield, Michael Marks and Tom Reilly challenged his thinking and his processes, and he would give their ideas a try. “Dad was always using the STAFDA libraries and we do, too. He would always say, ‘The best thing I ever did was listen to this series that I got from STAFDA — it changed how I think about my business.” Taking those ideas that STAFDA can bring to you and applying them to your business, making them work for you, is a really powerful idea, and I think that’s why people join associations to begin with.” Michelle and Derek also apply that pursuit of knowledge to their staff at IBS, too. Each year, IBS takes six to 10 employees to the STAFDA convention with orders to attend every educational session and hit the show floor running to hunt for new products. To Michelle, attending and working the show with a sense of purpose is critical — as is the post-show follow-up. “We go to STAFDA to get an education about how we can market and brand and sell better, how we can lead our people better and how we can serve our customers better. Those are the silos of our business, and STAFDA offers a breadth of education in all of those areas. “The key is the willingness to apply what you learn at STAFDA. You can attend all you want, but if you’re not going to promote, invest in and apply what you learn, then it all becomes fruitless. But if you are consuming the programs and the support and the webinars and the educational opportunities that STAFDA provides in addition to the trade show, if you’re actively consuming those things and applying them to your business, then STAFDA can help you be even more successful.”
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