Jonathan Kennedy and Eric Ziedrich, respective representatives of the 2016 Pro Dealer of the Year and Independent Pro Dealer of the Year awards, took to the podium during the ProDealer Industry Summit in Charleston, S.C., and hit all the right notes.
Here are the five easy steps to their podium prowess, and a guide for anyone in a similar position:
1. Thank everyone
This means the sponsor, Weyerhaeuser, organizers at the NLBMDA and HBSDealer; co-workers who make it happen back home; and families for their support. Check, check, check, check and check.
2. Exercise humility
Ziedrich, president of three-unit Healdsburg Lumber Company, referred to the first contact with the award organizers. Was somebody putting him on, he thought?
“I thought, ‘We’re good, but we’re not great,’” Ziedrich said from the podium. “But upon reflection, I think the one thing in our heart is that we’re never satisfied with what we are or what we do, we’re always striving to better our performance for the industry.”
3. Share an amusing story
Kennedy is a 19-year company veteran, president and general manager of 34-unit T.H. Rogers Lumber Co., based in Oklahoma. He’s the great grandson of T.H. Rogers himself. But he wasn’t always enamored of the LBM industry.
“I grew up not knowing what I wanted to do, but I knew I didn’t want to work for the lumberyard,” he shared. “They put me to work in the warehouse when I was 15. And I was playing baseball, and the deal was if I made the all star team, I would have to travel and I could quit six weeks early. I was running down foul balls, I was diving head first into first base, and I made the team. And I was very happy about that.”
4. Offer heartfelt advice
Ziedrich explained the difference between ego-centric growth — striving to the biggest — and customer-centric growth: “So everything we do today is customer-centric growth. Before we make any decisions, we strive to weigh in if its better for our customer or not. And if it’s not better for our customer than we hunker down and steady the ship, and we don’t move ahead unless our existing customers are rewarded by the decisions that we make.
“So, that’s worked for 145 years, we’re probably going to keep doing it.”
5. Celebrate the industry
Kennedy switched from banking to building materials. How’s this for a comparison: “I’ve been with our company in this industry for 19 years, and I’m still called the new guy. Like a lot of you, we have employees who have been around for 20, 30 and 40 years. It’s just a unique group of people. They are hard working and they’re honest and they have great attitudes. And I can tell you, coming out of banking, it’s not like that everywhere.”
All that’s left is to say is, “good night.”