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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

Jan 12, 2022

Looking for a way to enhance company culture and boost revenue? Mike Mortensen, president and CEO of Alaska Rubber Group based in Anchorage, AK, has a proven solution: an employee stock ownership plan.

Jason chats with Mike about his entry-level start in distribution, his company’s rapidly expanding physical and digital presence, and why owners of privately-held organizations should look to an ESOP when considering growth or exit strategies.

For many independent distributors, the thought of turning company ownership over to employees is as intriguing as it is intimidating.  But ESOP options are endless; owners can choose the most suitable structure for their organization and their legacy. For Alaska Rubber, that meant pursuing a “beneficial ownership” model. “The trust owns the company, owns the inventory, the assets and everything like that. And as an employee and a participant in the plan, we own the right to the rise or fall of the share price.” 

To say that the ESOP has panned out for Alaska Rubber is an understatement. While the model wasn’t an easy option for the company’s original selling party to buy into, the long-term benefits outweighed those initial doubts. 

Besides increased revenue, transitioning to an ESOP has provided the company with advantages in areas of recruitment, acquisition, and innovation. The company recently completed a massive website upgrade, for example and while on-site cash sales remains top tier, Mike says the fully integrated B2B e-commerce platform has captured business well beyond the counter. Mike also credits forward-thinking tech companies like data partner Proton AI with Alaska Rubber’s success despite online pressure from behemoth pick-and-ship competitors.

Mike’s good fortune in the distribution industry is one he’s paying forward. He views his participation in both NAHAD (The Association for Hose & Accessories Distribution) and IDCO (Industrial Distributors Co-op) as a way to contribute to the industry’s future. 


DT082: Benj Cohen of Proton AI on Leveraging Sales Data with AI Designed for the Distribution Industry

Proton AI

NAHAD - The Association for Hose & Accessories Distribution

IDCO - Industrial Distributors Co-op


Alaska Rubber Group





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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.