If you have attended any keynote speaker address in recent years you have probably heard some version of the phrase, “nobody likes change.”

Many industries are reluctant to change and I think you could argue that this is particularly true on the distribution side of mouldings and millwork. The sometimes “old-school mentality” is one that’s built on relationships and in-person selling and that is perhaps one area of the industry that was particularly hard hit when the world shut down, so to speak, during COVID-19. Many of the speakers who addressed attendees during the World Millwork Alliance Annual Conference (being held virtually) alluded to that fact.

And [DWM] editor Drew Vass told me that at last year’s in-person gathering they did more to allude to it by discussing how the industry needed to change in order to attract younger talent. So perhaps COVID forced their hand. In fact, that’s exactly what happened, according to one of the speakers in this year’s sessions.

Amy Post, national marketing manager at ODL, talked about Practical Tips for Taking your Old School Business Digital.

“For this industry, digital has forced their hand, and that is a positive from COVID,” she said. But she also talked about melding the two schools of thought together.

“The old-school catalog that we mail now sits at odl.com with videos and more. So this is taking what you have and making it better through an online experience,” Post said.

In other areas, however, sometimes a very real jump into online is necessary. For example, when COVID hit, and in-person selling came to a halt, some sales reps didn’t know, or want to, make the leap to online.

In a presentation titled, Navigating Through the Pandemic, Michael Marks, Indian River Consulting Group, recounted a story of some distributors saying their salespeople aren’t going to use Zoom to sell.

“They think that is their decision,” said Marks. “It’s not.”

He added, though, that sales transformation is one of the “biggest deals” right now as companies figure out how to implement remote selling.

I don’t envy those who have to figure all this out but I applaud them for jumping in and doing it. The few who don’t may not survive, and as Marks said, “It will come down to the companies [and people] who have their act together.”

I for one am very proud of this industry which has taken everything thrown at it. And, for someone who attends a lot of industry meetings, the sessions WMA put together this year are top notch—and you are the ones to benefit and learn from all this education.

I will leave you with another comment from Marks, who as you can tell had a lot of great info, “Chaos creates opportunity.”

So grab a hold of that and go thrive. I have faith in us!




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