May 25, 2022
Welcome back for part 2 with the Bader boys, Jason’s in-depth look at his family’s distribution business with patriarch and founder of Acme Construction Supply Co, Inc., Dick Bader, and younger brother Jordan, the company’s current president and CEO. As they wrap up their visit, Dick and Jordan reveal the fundamental principles that have supported Acme’s thriving culture and growth initiatives. They also share their motivations for and the rewards of trade organization participation.
Anyone involved in a family business knows that it's often a thin line between circus and success. One of the factors keeping the C-suite from devolving into a three-ring spectacle is an owner or leader who surrounds themselves with folks who can augment the skills or talents that they lack. Once the people are in place, a critical next step is for the owner or leader to yield control. “Dad created a great example of getting good people to fill in the skills that we don't have,” Jordan acknowledged that doing so afforded Dick a personal life because he didn’t have to worry about Acme while he was away.
When Jordan purchased the company in 2008, he began thinking about how to fill company roles vacated by retirement with his own team of next-generation leaders. First, he turned to folks outside his industry who might help Acme expand. Then he promoted star talent from within. Now Jordan’s broadening his industry’s appeal beyond its typically male-dominated workforce, fostering an environment where women and the LGBTQIA+ community feel welcomed. While the continued evolution of Acme’s culture is vital to him personally, he says what matters most is that these shifts result from his employees' influence.
Service is in the Bader bones. Dick, Jordan, and Jason have all participated in multiple trade organizations, and each one admits to receiving much more from groups like STAFDA and Evergreen than they could ever give. “You share what really works, and you hide what doesn't work,” Dick jokes. All kidding aside, however, he says, “You're gaining an education that you couldn't get any other way.”
Jordan agrees. “Those organizations, as they evolve and struggle through this changing environment, they have continued to help build the foundation of what is Acme. I'm certainly grateful for the leaders that started those organizations, because I don't know that we would be anywhere near the company that we are today without them.”
“I’m lazy. I don't want to do any more than one job.” - Dick Bader
“It's an ego-driven thing, I'll have to admit, to be involved in industry organizations. But the takeaway from them is that you're talking to the top 10% of the people in the field, and you can't help but take away some real knowledge, even by accident; just little pearls come out as you're communicating with these folks.” - Dick Bader
“The building of the team was critical. Ultimately, it does get back to I don't have to work as hard because of the team that I have and that, again, that philosophy really started with dad.” - Jordan Bader
“I would be remiss if I didn't say that some of the scaling up is due to luck and being in the right spot. We’ve got to find ways to stay relevant to our customers because our customers are growing, too.” - Jordan Bader
“I'm a big believer in you make the decision, and then you make it the right decision.” - Jordan Bader
“We can't put enough effort into recruitment, retention, and culture.” - Jordan Bader
“There's a portion of responsibility there too, that, hey, we've enjoyed a lot of benefit from these industries and giving back to them is pretty critical.” - 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.