August 14, 2019
What have you done to secure your company’s future?
Beyond upgrades to your tech, your warehouse space, and your fleet, what investments have you made in your people? Michael Meier, VP and COO of Meier Supply Company, discusses how his own professional growth has translated into a passion for training company talent and clientele.
Michael laughs when he tells his origin story and it probably resonates for a lot of listeners. He spent his post-college years as an HVAC tech, happily turning wrenches for six years when... “My dad offered me a position at the company. I took the job - and a $2 an hour pay cut!” After six months, the then 26-year old Michael told his father he needed to get back out into the field and turned in his two week notice. A week later, his brother had convinced him to stay.
Since then, he’s been a champion of professional development. “I realize the importance of coaching this next generation, this wave of employees,” he says, pointing to his own challenges as the impetus for his drive to educate the future. “I originally struggled calling on customers and that wasn’t my specialty. I really had to learn to talk and to deal with people.”
He credits courses at Dale Carnegie and Toastmasters International with helping him strengthen his weaker skills. “I think, as a leader, understanding what your development areas are and you gotta work hard, you gotta have the passion for getting better.”
Getting better is a constant at Meier. Internally, there’s a methodical approach to recruiting (multiple assessments, layers of interviews). Michael admits that some of these initiatives may take several years to pay dividends. He believes the efforts ultimately strengthen the company.
“For me, it is all about people. And that’s an ongoing thing. It’s not like you do it once and your good. You have to continually make sure that you spend the right time to get the right people.” Once the right people are in play, they have access to a three-year development program that primes them to become Meier’s next leaders.
Externally, the company has created a series of training classes that focus on professional development at the customer level. Meier University offers product knowledge courses as well as sessions aimed at specific contractor pain-points like invoicing.
“You think about it,” Michael says, “the better we make our contactors, our customers, the better it’s going to be for us and, of course, for them.” That also means on-demand video tips, FAQs, and even 24/7 tech access. “It’s about what can we do to make the contractor more profitable.” In adopting a multi-pronged approach to customer service, Meier has created a loyal client base.
For Michael, big-goal initiatives begin with passion and are built on hard work and honest self-awareness. “Determine what your passion is and dive in completely,” Michael says,”and surround yourself with the very best people that you can learn from.” At Meier, he’s created a space for Millennial leaders to do just that.
Listen in to find out what Michael gained from his HARDI presidency and a few more tips for nurturing talent.
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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.