How a culture of improvement drives our success

Jan 14, 2021

We've been recognized as one of the top 50 distributors in the US! (and why we care)

“Vision is a destination – a fixed point to which we focus all effort. Strategy is a route – an adaptable path to get us where we want to go.”           

Simon Sinek

2020 was a hard year for a lot of companies. A lot of them are still struggling, if they even made it. Not all did. 

Companies and employees faced so much unexpected change in 2020: having a distributed workforce, people being out of work, not having the humor, the human interaction, the connection. People not feeling tied to their tribe, not visiting around the water cooler.  

Now culture has become the big buzz word. Everyone is talking about it, because they saw how much not having a strong company culture hurt when 2020 turned the world upside-down. 

Our own strategy to combat all the obstacles COVID-19 put in our way was to commit even more to our own culture. It’s what allowed us to actually grow during a pandemic, hiring new staff members and surpassing our 2019 revenue. It’s what powered our team to do things like: 

  • Partner with 347 suppliers 
  • Serve 1,440 customers in 46 states (+ Japan & China) 
  • Process 25,990 total orders 
  • Process 4,904 Promo & Apparel orders 
  • Run 34 eCommerce sites, with 3,945 orders placed online 

And it's why we’re the only Top 50 distributor in the Pacific Northwest. 

For years we’ve consistently made the list of the 50 top distributors of print and promotional items in two major peer groups for our industry – Print + Promo, and PSDA (Print Services & Distribution Association). But there's one thing we didn’t notice until Matt, the young blood in our marketing team, looked with fresh eyes and pointed it out: 

We’re the only Pacific Northwest company on the list, and one of only a small handful in the Western US.

Let’s back up a minute and talk about what that means. 

First, a little background: This is an industry ranking across the United States, and we're asked to participate in it each year because of our longevity in the industry. We're well-known for delivering what we say we're going to do. And we're also well known for being progressive and always trying to do better. 

Part of the ranking is simple math. You submit your overall revenue and then your revenue broken down by product categories. They look at the percent that you did last year versus this year. Did you increase? And then it's a matter of math, whether you end up in the top 50.  

Who you compete against matters.

What’s more exciting than the recognition itself is who we’re competing against - who else is part of these organizations. The members are in a category of companies in the United States that see themselves as progressive. They see themselves as helping customers and they see themselves as constantly trying to improve what they're doing, internally and externally.  

That's exactly the kind of group we want to compete in. It’s a competition of worthy rivals, and it makes us better. If we were always looking at rivals that we could easily outpace, it wouldn't make us stretch. It wouldn't make us improve. And it wouldn't make us keep taking a good, hard look at our processes and our deliverables.  

Competing in a group like that sets the bar high. It makes us want to improve, makes us want to keep doing better, constantly pushes us to make sure we’re living our core values.  

It's nice to get an accolade or a nice, shiny crystal. But as our CEO, Tressa McLaughlin says, 

“It's great that we're the only Pacific Northwest distributor, but the significance is how we got there. We got there by delivering programs and products and services to our customers that were meaningful, that helped them be efficient, drove awareness, drove their culture, and got them results, so that they keep coming back to us, trusting that we can help them.”

And that's the key: We're willing to put ourselves in a competition to improve ourselves, and the way we do that is to take great feedback from our customers. Are we doing well? Are we truly helping? Are we making you more efficient?  

If we aren't willing to listen to feedback and improve, we don't become a trusted advisor, a trusted partner, which is what we want to be for our customers. 

We're proud that we keep showing up in the Top 50 Distributors list because of what it says about how we do business and how we’re viewed by our customers and peers. Not only that, it shows that we’re walking the walk. It demonstrates how a culture of improvement drives success.  

If you’re interested in some new ideas about ways to drive your own company culture toward better employee engagement, customer loyalty, and results, join our Connected Community!

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