August 7, 2019
Want to know the secrets to a successful expansion? For Dan Esch of Esch Construction Supply based in St. Paul, Minnesota, a company’s mission is just as important as the advanced field work and the financial analysis.
“This business is all about service.” That’s a sentiment you’ll hear Dan repeat throughout our conversation. He’s positioned Esch within the concrete cutting niche as a key collaborator, the customer’s go-to source for products, service, and information.
“We go out and solve problems and ask contractors how we can help them. That deep knowledge of that niche is where you can really add value and that’s really where the fun of this business is.”
Service may be one of Dan’s guiding principles but he’d never intended to make his mark in distribution. He studied finance in college with designs on becoming a commercial lender. An internship with his uncle’s diamond blade business changed all that - from day one on the job. “I literally fell in love with construction and I knew right away [that] this was my home and I wanted to stay here and figure out how to make a living in it.”
Seeing an opportunity to scale and grow, he and his wife bought Esch from his uncle in 1998. “We bought this diamond blade business that was being run out of a garage and moved it into a small warehouse and hired a couple of really successful sales reps and got our start.”
In 2005, at the encouragement of manufacturer’s reps, Esch established its first brick-and-mortar location as a way to provide additional support to their clientele. It would take another decade before the company opened its second location. Once he decided to do so, however, it only took six months to open the Waukesha, WI branch.
Dan credits two things for Esch’s success in Waukesha in 2015 and Denver, CO in 2018: his decision to together a leadership team and the book Traction: Get A Grip On Your Business by Gino Wickman. Having a leadership team in place gave Dan the time and resources to focus on expansion. Traction provided practical information and exercises that he and the team used to outline the company’s goals and define their core values.
Service means different things from location to location. But what stays the same is Dan’s commitment to people - from helping his staff succeed to finding client solutions tailored to each branch. “As a customer myself...you don’t get that experience that often or not often enough,” he says. “When you do, it’s special and you feel good.”
Listen in to find out how low unemployment is affecting Dan’s future recruitment plans and why the company’s successful rapid fulfillment service is a bit of a dual-edged sword.
Thank you to our sponsor INxSQL, software built for distribution.
Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.
Edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.