CatchTheSpirit v2

Rich Jenkins: From company truck driver to company president

For Rich Jenkins, president of Indianapolis Winnelson Company, it’s all about work ethic, the desire to succeed and doing whatever it takes to get the job done. Those are the building blocks for being successful in the WinWholesale organization whether you’re a truck driver or company president, according to Rich.

Nothing is impossible

“It’s about how bad you want to succeed. I believe nothing is impossible in the WinWholesale organization if you work hard and do whatever it takes to get the job done,” Rich says.

Rich should know. In 1990 he left Bill Spears Plumbing and Heating as a licensed plumber and took a job at Indianapolis Winnelson as a truck driver. Through hard work he progressed to warehouseman, inside sales at the counter, accounts payable/receivable, and then to the number two person in charge of the company after the president.

In 1995 WinWholesale’s Spirit of Opportunity presented the chance of a lifetime for Rich. The company president at that time left, and Rich had the opportunity to become president of Indianapolis Winnelson. He took the plunge and has never regretted the decision or looked back.

Being a company president the first couple of years is not easy and the hours can be long, Rich advised, but the rewards also can be great.

WinWholesale provides support to local companies

It helps knowing that a president is not alone in running the company. WinWholesale provides each of the more than 470 local companies across the United States support services such as payroll, accounting, inventory management, group buying and fleet management. That frees up the local president and other employees to concentrate on the local market, customer relationships, selling and serving accounts. Each company also has a board of directors with members who are seasoned in the wholesaling industry and are advisors to the president.

“So many people in WinWholesale have been in your position as a president and want to help you succeed. It’s always been amazing to me how people will drop everything to help you out if you have a problem,” Rich said.

For Rich, a big part of having a successful company is treating people right – employees, customers and vendors. “I’ve always said I would treat people the way I wanted to be treated. We’re all in this together,” he said. Apparently Indianapolis Winnelson employees are treated well since, on average, the 14 employees have been with the company eight years.

Winnelson gets it done for customers – whatever it takes

Rich believes Indianapolis Winnelson also treats its customers well. “We offer our customers a ton of things our competitors don’t,” Rich explained. “We help them with job blueprints and quotes, and I have an open door policy. Customers can see me in person or talk to me on the phone right away – not days away. I don’t think we can be out served by the competition. One way or the other our customers know we’re going to get it done for them – whatever it is and whatever it takes.”

Rich’s employees know the boss means it when he says he’ll do what’s necessary to make the company succeed and grow, including any job in the company. “I may have the title of president, but I have no problem doing any job here, whether it’s working in the warehouse, unloading a truck, making a delivery, selling at the counter, or pushing a broom. I wouldn’t ask any of my employees to do anything I wouldn’t do,” Rich said.

At the end of the day – the Spirit of Opportunity

It’s been 18 years since Rich started with Indianapolis Winnelson, and he still looks forward to coming to work each day. “It’s a great feeling every morning to get up and come to work. I like making the decisions every day – the hiring, purchasing, following my own market and running the business the way I think it should be run,” he said.

Even so, there are the occasional business hiccups. Sometimes plans don’t come together they way they were supposed to, but Rich said that makes him “dig deeper.” Indianapolis Winnelson has a lot of competition in the plumbing wholesale area, so that means constant work to compete, including lots of employee training, keeping up with product information and conducting sales and other meetings. “We get the whole company involved,” Rich explained. “Not just my ideas, but other people, and I’ll ask, ‘What do you think we should do?’ Everyone loves our meetings because they feel so much a part of things.”

At the end of the day, in Rich’s book everything – where the company is and how he and his employees are doing within the company – all comes back to the Spirit of Opportunity.

If someone asked Rich if they should start their own Win company, he would encourage them. “I’d try to sell them on the opportunity,” he said. “They’d have to be willing to work hard and learn, but the opportunity is there. It just depends on how much they want to succeed. I can’t think of another organization I could have joined that would have put me where I am today,”