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THE WHOLESALER® — MARCH 2011•


VIEWPOINT Lessons to learn from childhood books


BY MARY JO MARTIN Editorial director


A


Facebook friend of mine recently posted a great line from Winnie the Pooh that I had long ago forgotten:


“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re


braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think”— Christopher Robin to Pooh.


When I read it, the first thing that came to mind


was that it is not only incredible advice for children, but for all of us — and it’s applicable to everything we do. We’d all be much better off if we truly embraced those very simple words of encouragement. Unfortunately, the world around us tends to usurp the fairy tales we grow


up reading, and we lose our bright-eyed optimism somewhere along the way. I think the key is finding a healthy balance. Of course we can’t look at the world through rose-colored glasses, and we obviously have to deal with the challenges that threaten to block our path, but that is exactly when we should turn to our inner confidence and know — really know — that we will be OK. Despite our best efforts, there are difficult times that are so overwhelming


that they rock us to our very core. And in those darkest of days, our innermost strength and beliefs are what will see us through to the light again. My friends, we have all been through those days — together — in the last


few years. The U.S. economy has been one of the worst since the Great De- pression, and across the globe we’ve witnessed so much disarray including natural disasters, war, political strife and more. But if this issue of The Wholesaler — and what I’ve been hearing from


readers and advertisers at recent industry events — are any indication, things are starting to really look up. First, please indulge me as I share the news that everyone at TMB Publish-


ing is extraordinarily proud of: This March issue of The Wholesaler is our biggest issue ever! Especially in light of the struggles we’ve all experienced during these past few years, we could not be more thrilled with this incredible achievement. Of course, this would not be possible without all of you. So we extend a humble thank you to our advertisers for putting their faith and their marketing investment in us. And to our readers for their loyalty and continued support, which encourages us to bring you the highest quality and timely ed- itorial material in each and every issue. We view this as a true sign of the con- fidence that is returning to our industry. You can also get an indication of the confidence that many companies have


in the near-term business climate by reading through the editorial material we’ve assembled for this issue. You’ll see the tremendous investments that manufacturers and wholesalers are making in their businesses — especially in green building. They are banking on the fact that green is the direction of the future, and these more costly, but much more efficient, products and sys- tems will be a high priority for consumers. I’ve been traveling quite a bit lately, and have enjoyed talking with so many


of you about business conditions and what you believe is ahead for our indus- try in the near term. While some regions are certainly further into the recovery process than others, overall the mood is upbeat yet realistic. Suffice it to say that we all realize there likely won’t be another free-wheeling period of excess like we saw just before the recession. But, there is recovery — and there will be a “new normal” that will allow companies to once again experience growth and prosperity. Last month, I attended the Omni Spring Conference, and its affiliated Lux-


ury Products Group Meeting, in Scottsdale. In addressing the membership at the opening of the conference, Omni president Bob Hoff relayed a lot of op- timism. I wanted to share with you some highlights from his comments: “The bubble years were great while they lasted, the housing market was


great while it lasted. But we’re all retooling and looking at how to approach the new economic climate. We’ve got a lot to look forward to, and it starts right here at this meeting.” ... “We saw a lot of optimism in our recent business conditions survey. In fact, 51% of our respondents reported an increase in sales, 29% are looking


at increasing inventories this year, and 57% believe their sales will increase this year.” ... “It looks like we are getting back on track at a nice, even pace. Some regions


are improving at a little slower pace than others, but overall we are moving forward.” ... “Our attendance total at this conference is about the same as last year at


960, but I can tell you that we actually have more member and vendor per- sonnel, and fewer spouses. In fact, 97% of our total number of member com- panies are in attendance.” ... “As for our Luxury Products Group, participation and support are going to


be key. Last year, LPG members tallied about three times sales forecast, and we expect that is going to continue to grow in years to come.” ... “Our top three goals for LPG are to add sales and grow exponentially faster


by increasing membership and participation; develop a participation policy that rewards our members who support the group; and expand the vendor base in a way that is acceptable to the entire membership.” ... “We are also looking to really educate members on better showroom oper-


ations, decisions and purchasing. We want them to grow their bottom line and be more profitable. But we also want to provide networking value so members can communicate with each other. We are looking at bringing in speakers and even online educational programs that help train showroom pros to be the best in their field and gain greater marketshare for their business.”


In closing this column, I thought about a poem I heard some years ago. I


think it perfectly sums up how we ought to be conducting our lives — and our businesses. I wanted to share it with you here:


All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum


Most of what I really need To know about how to live And what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top Of the graduate school mountain,


But there in the sandpile at Sunday school. These are the things I learned:


Share everything. Play fair.


Don't hit people.


Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don't take things that aren't yours.


Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush.


Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balanced life — Learn some and think some


And draw and paint and sing and dance And play and work everyday some. Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out into the world, Watch out for traffic,


Hold hands and stick together. Be aware of wonder.


It’s awfully easy to lose sight of some of these things when we’re in a cut-


throat business environment, dealing with competition and trying to keep our businesses — and our lives — on track. But sometimes, the smallest lessons are the ones that provide the brighest beacon to guide our way.


n


Mary Jo Martin is editorial director of THeWHOLeSALer. She can be reached at 972-315-9803 or editor@thewholesaler.com.


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