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Activity-Based Costing and Purpose-Driven Customer Engagement in the Safety industry with Dave White

Episode: 88

Companies in every vertical have become acquainted with safety distributors throughout the pandemic. But there’s more to this partnership than just PPE. Jason chats with Dave White, the purpose-driven co-owner of Quad City Safety in Davenport, IA, about back-to-basics accounting and why he favors educating customers at the expense of recording sales.

A lot of the world operates selfishly, Dave says, explaining why Quad City Safety gives away so much of its expertise through both a YouTube channel and a podcast . I think that through being unselfish, usually you’re rewarded for being [so]. It’s doubtful that anyone who’s had a conversation with Dave would accuse him of ulterior motives; he’s that passionate about sharing life-saving products and safety information. You gotta try to help as many people, even if they don’t buy from you, he says. By offering free multimedia educational resources, Dave’s moving the client/company relationship beyond mere transaction into a more purposeful engagement.

Of course, transactions keep the business viable enough to support those multimedia endeavors. That’s where Dave’s accounting background comes into play. Distribution companies are littered with emotional, sales-minded individuals who are sometimes swayed by bright, shiny decisions.

Accountant-minded folks like Dave aren’t so easily distracted. He leans on activity-based costing to make clear choices. Distribution is so transactional, he says, and there are millions of reports from which to pull data.

Still, with all the buzzword-filled articles being written, Dave proposes that the best way to run a successful business is to get back to accounting basics–and understand those basics. It’s also handy to keep a bottle of Maalox or one’s favorite adult beverage stored in the C-suite because there’s a good chance management won’t like what they see the first time they read it.

Dave and his Quad City Safety specialists continue to forge relationships through knowledge, regardless of how the numbers get crunched. They’re committed to reliable, relatable customer care, from updating folks on the latest safety standards to demonstrating wearable gear and site-specific equipment. It takes time to educate. It’s not a quick hit, says Dave. More often than not, those conversations result in a fall protection device ending up in the right place at the right time–and someone going home unharmed.


American Society of Safety Professionals

AD Safety Network




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: HMI Performance Incentives, providing innovative, data-driven B2B incentive solutions.


It’s been a very gratifying life; I’m blessed to be where I’m at, and did I necessarily pick the path to distribution to start with? No, I kind of ended up with it. But it’s been pretty neat, and there’s a lot of good people, and I can’t say enough about the opportunities that I’ve had.

The spirit of our business is we work every day to try to make sure that somebody goes home to the dinner table. And that’s it.

We’ve got a purpose for everything we’re doing. So it’s not going to be the cheapest, but your outcome is going to be the best if we work together.

I have passionate conversations with people that have never bought from me just because I’m passionate about what I do.

I challenge any independent or macro distributor to really make sure that they’re having some passion; there needs to be a little sizzle with the steak.

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