As I sit down to write my closing article as IMARK chairman, I am struck by two divergent thoughts. It would be easy to assume, halfway through 2021, that society is more splintered and polarized than at any time in recent history. News media and social media both supply plenty of examples of turmoil and division on an hourly basis. But when I actually look at my own experiences, it becomes clear to me that the core relationships, both personal and in business, that I’ve valued over the years, are strong, reliable and thriving. I am by nature a glass half-full thinker. And my early mentorship in business was through people who valued the ideals of integrity, patience and hard work. I came to see working relationships as a web woven over time that became stronger as one navigated the inevitable ups and downs. Agreements were sealed with a handshake and on the basis of one’s good reputation. We are operating in vastly more complex times today, but I truly believe the principles of success are consistent and still apply.
My experience as an IMARK member for 17 years and board chairman for four has given me a much greater appreciation for the power of unity. IMARK gives us a unique framework to build upon the strength of our diverse membership and broad base of suppliers. It is also a framework that we can use to build the connection and loyalty we develop between our customers and our employees. There’s nothing like running a business during a global pandemic to test one’s depth as a company, the loyalty and patience of your customers and the reliability of the word of your suppliers. With worldwide shortages, supply chain disruption and general unpredictability, it was so valuable to me to be able to reach out to trusted associates for help developing a track forward. And the majority of those people I have met through IMARK. It gave me the ability to return to my employees and customers with assurances and quality information.
I was humbled by the consistency of availability of those to whom I reached out and buoyed by the attitude of, “We’re in this together!” It reaffirmed my belief in the power of personal connections.
While COVID was and still continues to be a major consideration, it is only one of the warp-speed changes we are seeing in our industry. And while the principles of success may stay constant, the mechanics of success are ever-changing. It is quite literally not possible to proceed with “business as usual.” Operating from a digital platform, once an option, is now a given. Zoom meetings and remote work were propelled forward by necessity and are here to stay. With great innovation in all product lines comes an even greater demand for training and knowledge. The power of unity makes this feasible for companies of all sizes to integrate these tools quickly and affordably. IMARK will only become a more valuable resource in the future.
IMARK is a member-owned and governed cooperative enterprise, not only in name but truly in spirit. The talented folks I’ve had the pleasure of serving with while on the board have broadened my understanding of our industry, impressed me with their dedication and inspired me to continue my pursuit of excellence in business. It has been a pleasure to serve with Bob Smith, whose vision so successfully led to the expansion into new verticals. His early confidence in me and the example he set are deeply appreciated and remembered. We, as a company, are well positioned for sustainable success as Jerry Knight moves us forward with his integrity and experience. My congratulations to Wes Smith, president of Mayer Electric, who will step into position as chairman. I am excited to see his direction as a forward thinker who understands the value of investment in the future of our organization.