Jeff Braun
Listen on These

Calibrating a Change Management Strategy to the Pace of Your Organization With Jeff Braun, CEO of Primera Co-Op

Episode: 150

Successful change management is about knowing your audience and anticipating what they can accept and when. Whether you run a family-run distribution company or a member-owned cooperative in the professional turf, ornamental and specialty landscape vertical, that formula remains the same.

Jeff Braun, CEO of Primera Co-Op, thoroughly understands the critical moves his organization must take to excel. More importantly, he knows when to ease up before rolling out his plans. Jason chats with Jeff about his transition from major manufacturer to co-op, the pleasures and perils of taking on a new vertical, and the art of slowing down to accelerate innovation.

“The distribution model here [at Primera] versus the distribution model at DeWalt is very similar. We’re just selling different products to a different end user.” Don’t let Jeff’s casual assessment fool you; he’s far from a cut-and-paste CEO. He adopted a listen-first strategy upon arrival, which proved incredibly generative given that pandemic restrictions allowed him to meet virtually with every co-op and supplier member during the country’s initial lockdown.

Jeff’s experiences elsewhere gave him an advantage when assessing the co-op’s pain points. “Because I spent so much time on the manufacturing supplier side, I had a slightly different perspective than my predecessors of the opportunity.”

Jeff encountered a welcoming culture at Primera although a handful of members did take his arrival as their cue to opt-out. While painful, he didn’t allow the departures to derail his plans. Instead, he let the organization’s natural rhythm set the timeline. “It had to teach me to get out of the corporate environment where you operate with speed, to take a deep breath, and to say, let’s focus on a couple of things. How can we do those couple things well to build trust?”

Now that the initial operational changes have taken root, Jeff has shifted focus to fortifying Primera’s value proposition. “Our active members have grown six of the last seven years, outpacing market growth, which is phenomenal even with losing some members,” he says. “Now, we’re showing them here’s what we do better than anyone else. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?”


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“We’ve lost some members over the last year, which is painful as a cooperative ’cause we don’t buy and sell so we are tied to what each of our members do. But the beauty of it is, as that has happened, those who buy into what we’re doing buy in more.”

“We get asked all the time what’s the right number of members? What’s the right number of suppliers in a group? I don’t know. I’d rather have 20 that are super engaged than a hundred who aren’t.”

“If you did nothing else to take advantage of being a member of the cooperative other than talk to other members in the cooperative, the value takes care of itself. “






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 by The Creative Impostor Studios.

Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: INxSQL Distribution Software, an integrated distribution ERP software designed for the wholesale and distribution industry.

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