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On Distribution Talk, we dive into the stories, struggles and solutions from interesting characters who have chosen to make a career in the distribution industry. My goal is to entertain, educate and inspire you through these brief conversations.  Thank you for visiting.  If you like what you hear, come visit us often. -Jason

Feb 17, 2021

"It's very hard to get them to go along with it, to try the new idea, the new way of doing it. Now, once they try it, generally, they'll say, gosh, this is good!" -Gordon Graham

After years of using Gordon Graham’s methodology to power The Distribution Team, Jason finally sits down for a one-on-one with the man who revolutionized an industry. 

Known for his integrity and easy-to-understand logic, Gordon is the undisputed dean of distribution inventory management, having written the book on the subject in the late 80s. This conversation is as much a treat for fans of Gordon’s work for those who’re unfamiliar with his revolutionary approach. 

It seems ridiculous now, in an age of specialized systems, but, back in the dark ages of inventory management software packages, distributors struggled to make standard manufacturing programs work within their own verticals. You can thank Gordon for solving the issue. 

“One of the things that I developed was the way to handle the line-buying problem.” He drew on his previous trials-and-errors to write a common-sense approach entitled Distribution Inventory Management For The 1990s.

Gordon’s appeal spread with the book’s publication. Software companies that incorporated his methodology received his endorsement, a gold standard that distributors sought when installing or upgrading their management systems. Those that didn’t receive Gordon’s seal of approval got angry and tried to get even. Gordon refused to cave to the economic blackmail. As a result, he’s still the trusted voice of authority and reason three decades later. 

Gordon saw the value in simplification. “That was one of the reasons I never did care much for the real high math approaches to inventory control,” he says, “because, not that they don't get good answers, it's just that the people using the system generally will not understand how that computer got an answer.” 

Still, as broadly appealing as his ideas were, and as much as he wanted to share them, Gordon knew when to bow out. “I had to admit that a lot of my stuff didn't work everywhere. And one of the things I had to be real careful was not trying to force it into where it didn't go.” That speaks to Gordon’s integrity and ability to remain humble enough to learn from his encounters with new systems or formats.

Now 87, Gordon trades conference speaking war stories with Jason and remains keenly aware of how important it is to live life by your word and aligned with your faith.


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Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.   

This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.

Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: INxSQL Distribution Software, integrated distribution ERP software designed for the wholesale and distribution industry.