May 4, 2022
The past is always present at Industrial Supply Company, thanks to a treasure trove of historical documents dating back to 1915. While the Utah-based company’s 106-year heritage is impressive, Jessica Yurgaitis has no intention of dwelling in the dust of the organization’s bygone era, even if the history major in her loves posting those old handwritten letters and sales slips. Jason chats with this fourth-generation president about balancing respect for family legacy with a desire to launch the company into a thoroughly modern future.
Those who’ve worked in family businesses know the truth behind its “cushy” reputation. ”I grew up with my dad running our company. I was in the building. I attended association meetings with him. We entertained customers and vendors at our home,” Jessica says. “It's a lot of sleepless nights. It's a lot of personnel issues. You’re a Rabbi and a counselor and a priest and a coach and all those things––and you're also running a business.”
She wanted no part in Industrial; she wanted a Master’s in history instead. But advanced degrees cost money, so she went to work. “I was given an opportunity to either take a sales route or jump into our purchasing department. I chose the latter.” There, Jessica learned business basics: meeting with suppliers, building relationships, and executing marketing and co-branding strategies.
Moving through each department at Industrial taught Jessica how to strengthen relationships. “I feel like I have a wonderful network of people,” she says of her participation in associations like ISA. “I could pick up the phone anytime and call, and they'd be willing to give me time and help me work through an issue. And I do that all the time.”
She applies that same humility when the conversation turns to younger team members. Jessica has wisely surrounded herself with folks whose “digital native” skill sets complement her historical organizational knowledge. “ I don't have a business degree. I need all the business influence, and outside perspective I can get. So, it's very important for me, for the health of my position here, to continue to challenge myself, to grow and learn.”
Leveraging legacy, leaning into growth. Jessica’s got the balance right at Industrial Supply.
“I post these historical documents as a continuity of our brand. And, you know, sometimes we do that as a company. But, I like to do it because it's my family business and not necessarily because I'm trying to sell something.”
“We're hiring younger people who hopefully want to make Industrial Supply their home. And we have to convince them to make this a career for them because they tend to want to jump around a little bit.”
“I have such a wonderful team, and I trust them immensely. I will never know everything; none of us will. But I don't pretend that I'm the most knowledgeable in the industrial distribution space. I pretend that I can do anything because I've got a great team.”
“I'm thankful for the opportunities to serve, and I think sometimes we need to ask, and we need to volunteer our time instead of waiting to be asked.”
“You can't learn anything within the four walls of your business.”
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.
This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.
Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: INxSQL Distribution Software, integrated distribution ERP software designed for the wholesale and distribution industry.