May 18, 2022
Milestones are a part of the distribution business and, as it turns out, podcasting. What better way to celebrate Distribution Talk’s 100th episode than with a combo of sorts––equal parts company case study and oral history. Jason corrals family patriarch and founder of Acme Construction Supply Co, Inc., Dick Bader, and little brother Jordan, current president and CEO, for an insider’s look at the family business. Like all epic tales, this one comes complete with plot twists, sibling rivalry (of the genial kind), and a cliffhanger.
“I'll admit, the first time I saw you speak right after you left Acme, I was pretty sure we were saving a seat for you back at Acme,” Jordan jokes. When Jason exited the family business over a decade ago for the “greener pastures” of consulting, he eventually cleared a path for Jordan to lead Acme. Both Bader boys have their father to thank for their successes, having watched Dick navigate the often choppy waters of entrepreneurship.
As is the case with most folks who work in distribution either for a while (Jason) or forever (Dick and Jordan), the business chose them, not the other way around. “I really didn't have much thought about distribution actually. When I came out of school, I got a job in what I thought was going to be the real red hot career path,” Dick says. Ah, those best-laid plans in red-hot industries…
Dick’s early trajectory followed a jagged but steady incline as it moved through several iterations in hardware, then roofing supplies, an industry he helped to revolutionize. When the economy took a significant downturn, Dick found himself up against looming debt and a limited income, a teachable moment in creative resilience that the 10-year-old version of Jordan still remembers and credits as informing his leadership style.
Dick weighed hefty considerations as he brought both of his sons into Acme. Legacy. Boundaries. Balance. No matter how thoughtful an entry or succession plan, there will be stumbles along the way. And successes more profound than any bottom lines. “Dad, as you brought us into the business, you showed continuity, and you showed this stability for our employees that, you know, I still have,” says Jordan.
Stay tuned for part two!
“I thought, well, this is distribution, but I don't think I want any part of it. One little mistake, and you're out of business; you are broke.” - Dick Bader
“It started our real philosophy of take away their pain. In other words, educate whoever is doing the selling to converse enough with your customer to know what's their pain.” - Dick Bader
“When somebody comes in and offers you more than you ever dreamed of, that's the time you should step back and take a deep breath.” - Dick Bader
“It is family and the relationship you have with your employees that really make a business successful.” - Dick Bader
“I do remember dad sitting Jason and I down at the dinner table––I believe I was ten years old, just the perfect time to talk about business––and dad said, ‘I think we're filing bankruptcy.’” - Jordan Bader
“Being in a family business is difficult. And when you talk to your boss, which is your dad and your brother, which, you know, had seniority over me, I said things to you guys that I would never have said to my boss that I wasn't related to or another coworker.” - Jordan Bader
“Dad, as you brought us into the business, you showed continuity, and you showed this stability for our employees that, you know, I still have, and celebrate some of our employees with 40 plus years of experience with Acme.” - Jordan Bader
“It's amazing to bring in a new employee and introduce them to somebody who worked for my dad.” - Jordan Bader
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.