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NAW Executive Summit Finds Distributors Feeling Optimistic

Feb. 8, 2013
Wholesale distributors from every business line, and by extension business owners and executives from all walks of life, have a responsibility to continue growing profits, for the good of the nation, said Alan Beaulieu at last week's NAW Executive Summit.
Wholesale distributors from every business line, and by extension business owners and executives from all walks of life, have a responsibility to continue growing profits, for the good of the nation. That was the core message delivered by economist Alan Beaulieu, president of ITR Economics, last week at the annual Executive Summit held by the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors (NAW), Washington, D.C.
Beaulieu brought a cautiously optimistic assessment of the overall economy, forecasting expansion through 2013, though cooling toward the end of the year and a small step back in 2014. He said executives should be investing in their businesses this year and locking in low interest rates before a rise in inflation pushes rates back up in a few years.  Beaulieu expects to see global economic recovery, especially continued demand from China, pushing copper prices upward as well.
The format of presentations throughout the summit meeting provided an effective mix of theory and practice as consultants and service providers gave their overviews of industry trends and operating practices, then turned the mic over to a high-profile distributor who had put those ideas to work. For example, Patrick “Lips” Houlahan, a former Marine Corps fighter pilot and “Top Gun” instructor, walked attendees through the ways his Afterburner Inc. consulting firm applies combat training practices to improve business execution. John Mansfield, vice president of business development for Graybar, St. Louis, followed with an account of how his team has applied Afterburner’s plan-brief-execute-debrief system to improve the level of sales presentations to key customers, which led to higher win rates on national accounts.
On the whole, the distribution executives at the meeting reported that business was fairly strong and they expected a good year. 
Next year’s NAW Executive Summit will be Jan. 28-30, 2014, again in Washington, D.C.