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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

Nov 6, 2019

“You can’t chase every single need, but when there’s a consistency from one contractor or one customer to the other, that becomes an opportunity. And if there’s a trust that you have built, the opportunity turns into profitability.” ~Jeff Peterson, Geneva Supply, Inc.

How does an affable guy who started out in the liquor industry become a leader in e-commerce strategy and fulfillment?

When you meet Jeff Peterson, CEO and co-founder of Geneva Supply, Inc. out of Delavan, WI, the answer is clear: How could he not?! 

 “I always wanted to own a sports bar…” And with that, Jeff’s deep into the story of his unorthodox route into distribution. Although the twists and turns are many, the common throughline is his undeniable skill at building relationships. 

After selling the bar, Jeff went searching for his next challenge when the opportunity found him. “One of the guys that I knew, I was helping manage his band and he was the Greenlee Textron rep for Wisconsin…”

That connection lead to a sales job with a family-owned tool distributorship and Jeff soon found himself driving to job sites in a company pickup truck selling items to contractors that he himself had no idea how to use. “Within six months, I ended up being the number two outside salesperson for this company.”  

Jeff’s ability to balance his inexperience with honesty in those early years made all the difference in his career. “I think the reason was because I went in there and asked a ton of questions and when they [contractors] asked me questions, I was honest with them. When I didn’t have an answer, I followed up with them.”

It’s a simple but crucial effort he credits with his success. “You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room...but you’ve got to be the smartest person knowing they need an answer.”

He became so adept at finding answers that the family-owned distributorship he helped grow had no choice but to fire him and his future business partner. Once again, however, the relationships he nurtured while working for someone else came through to form the foundation for what is now Geneva Supply. 

These days, Jeff’s still the guy finding answers and providing strategies for his clients e-commerce distribution challenges. Geneva has flourished as a one-stop shop for building brand strategy and supply chain infrastructure.

“I was just telling our team this morning...Geneva Supply is a marketing company that does logistics.” The company’s gearing up to expand beyond the coasts, giving Jeff more opportunities to cultivate relationships internationally. 

Listen in to find out how Jeff got Geneva Supply up and running in a day (there’s an airplane hanger involved!) and what’s next for e-commerce.


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.

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Connect with Jeff on LinkedIn.