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Kevin Higginbotham on cooperatives, manufacturer partnerships, and Planning for Profit

Episode: 28

We’re focused on delivering what our members are asking us to do. And what our members are asking us to do is train their people and help develop relationships between themselves and the manufacturers. ~Kevin Higginbotham

Imagine running a company and having to answer to 58 bosses. As CEO of Evergreen Marketing Group, that’s Kevin Higgenbotham’s daily reality. I sat down with Kevin to find out how this cooperative of independent distributors works and what strategies Evergreen uses to promote long-term member success.

You get the feeling that Kevin’s heard this question before: Why would a contractor come to an Evergreen distributor member versus anybody else?

As someone who started with the Texas-based cooperative twenty-five years ago, he’s quick with the answer. Because of the quality of the people. So as you walk into an Evergreen location, a branch, the people behind the counter know what they’re talking about. That’s on-brand for the group.

Unlike other collectives, Evergreen’s focus isn’t on buying product; it’s motivated by a desire to foster professional growth amongst members. Their approach is all-encompassing. Training and education, business development, and manufacturer partnerships. Evergreen delivers with product knowledge sessions and their Planning For Profit program.

[Planning For Profit] gets the distributors at the local level and the manufacturers’ reps at the local and national levels together to honestly talk through, how do we work together to grow the business?

Does the program meet member expectations? Kevin says Evergreen’s data doesn’t lie. I’ve been able to demonstrate over time…hey, this is worth your time.’


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.

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Kevin shared a few tips from the Planning for Profit playbook.

The first is simple: Always do what you say you’re going to do — on both the distributor and the manufacturer side.

Second: Write everything down. Whatever that looks like to you — pen and paper or a notes app — just jot it down because you’re more likely to get it done.

His third tip is for manufacturers: Understand the nuances between clients. Even in a collective, customer A is not the same as customer B.

Lastly: Set aside time in October or November for a thorough year ahead planning session — then check in with your progress the first week of April. The worst thing to do is continue to execute a plan that’s not working and then to not know that it’s not working until the third quarter. Wise words whether you’re a large distributor or a small one.

Want an in depth look at how Evergreen’s model works? Listen in as Kevin and I break down the details and get dig deeper into Planning For Profit.

Bonus reading suggestion for your management bookshelf: Working At Cross Purposes by Mike Marks.

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