Could your team pass the litmus test? If you left your distribution business in their hands for four weeks, five, six, would the shop survive in your absence? Jamie Arguello has the real-life data to prove that her business wouldn’t simply survive; it would thrive.
We’re revisiting a conversation Jason had with the CEO of Grady’s Foodservice Equipment & Supplies in Pueblo, CO, as we emerged from the 2020 pandemic, and Jamie emerged from a personal health challenge. They chat about coming home to the family business, creating space for second chances, and the rewards of letting go so others can step up. It’s a timely reminder about how to navigate difficult times both as a leader and a human.
“So, I got involved with my family business basically by chance,” Jamie says, recounting the deal she made with her father in 2007 – to work at Grady’s until she’d paid him back for a real estate investment that had tanked along with the markets. Once that debt cleared, however, Jamie had found her professional home.
The wholesale distribution space provided her with everything she had sought elsewhere: competition, collaboration, and connection. “I have actually held every position in our company, and I’ve never been good enough at any of them to keep them for long,” she laughs. Instead, Jamie turned her keen eye toward the interrelation between every department under the Grady’s’ roof, connecting her employees through processes and systems and moving everyone forward together.
But all that superior macro vision couldn’t prepare Jamie for a pandemic and the health crisis that came next. Or could it? Amid the challenges that marked the summer of 2020, Jamie discovered she had breast cancer. The diagnosis swiftly shifted all of the company’s micro concerns onto her team. “I couldn’t do what I used to do, and for me, that was extremely hard.” But not without its rewards. It’s a testament to Jamie’s management style how well the Grady’s family flourished as she focused on her recovery. That time away also provided Jamie with a fresh perspective. “It’s so much easier to see [challenges] from a distance than it is to see in the day-to-day when you’re in it,” she says.
Meeting challenges and being of service is a hallmark of Jamie’s character. She’s an active member of FIDA, admitting that she initially got involved solely for the data. Now, she champions FIDA’s exceptional educational programs and access to talent.
Perhaps her most meaningful professional commitment is to those in need of a second chance. Grady’s, long known for making connections, offers employment opportunities to folks whose criminal record may prevent them from securing meaningful work. The program has turned out to be a win-win. “They’ve always provided me with more motivation than I could ever have provided them,” she says. Yet another reason why the Grady’s team receives the highest marks on that litmus test.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
“The only way to ever change your physical reality is to change your mindset.”
“Any type of stress or any trauma that we all go through, you can choose to move forward, or you can choose to recreate your past by living in that moment over and over and over again by the thoughts that you make.”
“You have to give them that control and give them that sense of ownership or you’ll never get there.”
“It was basically my report card. It was like, how well did you do to set up your entire team to lead them from behind when you can’t physically be there to step in?”
“The answers don’t always come from me; I am asking you for the answers, and I’m asking you to find those answers and to drive change yourself.”
“I am absolutely thrilled when somebody tells me, ‘I don’t think you’re right.’”
“That’s why I love our industry – because people, even though they are your competitors, they’re so willing to share, and they’re so willing to help people along.”
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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.