January 11, 2023
Many stories featured on Distribution Talk share a similar through-line: guests who grew up immersed in the family business. Sure, variations to that narrative exist, but family ties often play a role. Robert Mayhew’s story may be devoid of blood relatives, but his success is a case study for younger folks eager to create meaningful careers. As president of Mayhew Marketing Group, he’s created a rep agency with a footprint that spans the entire Southwest. Jason chatted with Robert about his enthusiasm for entry-level jobs, introducing the next wave of innovators to wholesale distribution’s entrepreneurial opportunities, and the mentors who guided him to where he is today.
“Part of the distribution world, from what I've seen, and particularly in the channel that [MMG] is in,” says Robert, “is, it's some of the purest forms of entrepreneurship.” This praise is from the “elder Millennial” innovator who made pizzas to pay for college before backing into a warehouse job with a STAFDA distributorship. That ground floor offered Robert a solid foundation. “At that time, I was about 20 years old, and I saw that, man, there's a good business here. I wouldn't say I was too bright,” he laughs, “but I was intelligent enough to realize this was a lucrative business.”
Robert steadily advanced in his career before finding his niche in sales.“I got recruited by a large manufacturer's rep based out of Southern California and was tasked with building the Las Vegas market out. From there, I just flourished in the rep world.” In 2014, he opened MMG, which features a tightly focused roster of top suppliers. Today, the agency is a major player in the Southwest market. “It feels great, and it feels rewarding,” says Robert, adding, “not just from a monetary standpoint, but from a pursuit of excellence.”
While MMG’s success is phenomenal, selling distribution as an exciting, viable career option continues to be challenging. Robert’s advice? Go to where the kids are (TikTok, Instagram) and celebrate the profession. “I love to brag about our industry. I love to talk about the power of wholesale distribution and it's the people.”
In other words, tell a better industry story. The best part is, with distribution, it’s all true.
“[Distribution] is such a pure form of entrepreneurship in this country, and it teaches you so much from top to bottom that by the time you get through that, you almost feel like, man, I could apply this in any channel!”
“Nobody ever believes me. I'm not after this for money. There's a lot of things that I could do [and] there's easier ways to make a buck. For me, I believe in it. I believe in the model, and I'm in it for the pursuit of excellence.”
“The most common thing I'll get is, ‘Oh, well, you're just a middleman.’ And I go, well, you know, depending on the day, it's either Elon or Bezos. Jeff Bezos is a broker. Amazon's a broker. You know, one of the richest guys in the world, he's a broker.”
“I try to get rid of that middleman term. I prefer broker. And a lot of things are brokered, including everyone's stock portfolios.”
“Your knowledge, your experience, your whole story, it has a value because you've put effort into it. And isn't that the best security blanket? Isn't that the best safety net is that you have value, and you can provide it to someone, and everybody's looking for value.”
“If we wanna recruit talent, tell the story better.”
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