Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Looking back at our blessings

Looking back at the nearly 200 articles posted to this blog, most were designed to provide insight,

suggestions and training for distributors and their supply partners. Our mission has been, and continues to be, creating a catalyst for better ideas within the distributor channel. But, for just a couple of minutes, allow me to take a look back in time.

We are celebrating out 10th Anniversary
River Heights Consulting was formed ten years ago on November 13, 2005. After many years of consideration and sleepless nights, I decided to take my gathered knowledge and skills to launch out on my own. It was my long-time dream to consult in the distribution world.

When I first launched, I had no clients, no prospects of clients and very little idea as to how to find new clients. For a couple of days, I felt like Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk, somewhere deep within my consciousness I heard voices say, “Jack, you traded the cow for these three magic beans? How stupid of you…” But I was blessed. A few days following my resignation, I received an unsolicited call from Phil Allen of Grace Engineered Products who wanted to be my very first client. I am happy to report Grace is still a client. Blessings continue to flow.

During the first couple of years, it was tough connecting with new clients. The good news was that it was fairly easy to find organizations where I could provide really strong value.  They wanted to hire me!  The trouble was, they wanted to hire me as an employee, not a consultant.

It seemed as though every baby-boomer with any level of success “put out a shingle” and called themselves a consultant. At least until somebody offered them a job. My wife encouraged me to stay the course. Again, I was blessed. At some of my most discouraging times, a new client would join the River Heights Consulting family. The family grew and now at the end of ten years, we are maintaining that momentum. With each new client, I have learned something.  I have learned about their business, how to be better at my own business, and how to help others overcome obstacles and prosper.

Over the past 10 years, River Heights Consulting has:
• Interviewed over 1,000 distributor executives (we quit counting at 800 about five years ago). Each one of these folks generously shared the issues facing their businesses. In many instances, they talked openly of their successes and the pitfalls they experienced along the way.

• Interacted with some of the top thinkers in the wholesale distribution. The folks who run distributor associations really do have a handle on the issues facing wholesalers. They shared, they bounced around ideas and they generously assisted with research.

• Written five and a half books. Why the half book? Well, there are a few that are near complete but need either some final editing or a bit more research required to move them from mildly interesting to worthy of the readers' time.

• Authored over 400 articles. This has put me in touch with some world-class editors. They helped me improve my writing skills. Don't forget, I am an engineer by trade, so writing was never a strength. These people were patient with me, offering amazing tutorials.  Plus, they taught me to not be afraid of putting some of my personality into the work.  "Frank speak" is a real thing around here.

Since many people want to know, here is a list of the work we have performed.
Executive coaching. In spite of claims made by others, I don’t believe any one course can provide the background needed to be a top-level distribution executive. We work one-on-one with great people to help them be even better. We play devil’s advocate and challenge their decisions. We ask dumb questions and demand smart answers. We help them refine ideas.

Sales training. We do training on target-based selling, Value-metric selling and solutions selling. We often ride along with salespeople to provide them with a bit of coaching as well.

Speaking. We have been honored with the opportunity to speak to groups all over the world.

Distributor Advisory Councils. This is one of my personal favorite tasks. River Heights Consulting has conducted dozens of these meetings and helped suppliers build a better relationship with the wholesale partners.

Rep. Council Meetings. Sales Agencies, AKA Rep firms, are part of the landscape. They provide real value to the channel. One rep recently pointed out a notable fact. According to Forbes Magazine the average tenure of a rep in their market is 22 years versus just over two years for a salesperson working directly for the manufacturer.

Strategic Planning. Without a plan, it’s hard to grow. We’ve had a lot of fun helping all kinds of organizations refine their vision for the future.

Customer Focus Groups. The voice of the customer is powerful. Understanding why people buy from you is as important as any fancy sales strategy.

I could go on and on with this list. I know I have skipped over some important stuff. I suspect in another ten years the list will be even bigger and better. So allow me to close with the most important point.

We have been blessed with literally thousands of friends, people who have helped us succeed. We have been blessed with a modicum of success.

But it’s not about Frank Hurtte or the team here at River Heights Consulting.
Instead the real secret is all of you.

Thank you for your help and support since November 13th of 2005.  You have given me hope in the face of adversity and have kept me laughing with your distributor stories.  You have blessed me.

I hope to be a blessing to you and your company some day as well.  And with the next 10 years ahead, I thought I should share our new and improved logo:

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts!  Happy Thanksgiving!

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