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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

Jun 19, 2019

“Most business owners try to grow our way out of our problems. But the result is simply a bigger monster. You can't grow out in your profit problem. You need to fix the profit first, then you grow.” -Tully Brewer

In this episode, Jason and Tully Brewer, president of Littlejohn, Inc., chat about the profit first approach and planning for a healthy succession.

Littlejohn, Inc. began selling tank trailers in the 1930s but it wasn’t until the family firm opened its parts business in the late 80s that things really took off. Eventually, opportunities gave way to challenges and Tully admits to having had a myopic view when it came to finding solutions for his middling bottom-line. ”We try to grow our way out of problems, hinging salvation on the next big sale customer or investor.” He credits Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine by Mike Michalowicz for helping him refocus and post record profits. You need to fix the profit first,” Tully says, “Then you grow.”

To sustain that growth, Tully has cultivated a mindful, hands-off approach for developing the company’s next generation of leaders, which includes his son Zach, 31, and son-in-law Thomas, 29. He offers them guidance, support, and works through management books like Ego Is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday with them. For the most part, however, “they make decisions and move on,” he says. “It allows them to grow and develop and think strategically without me having to be there to tell them what to do.”


What would Tully do differently if he could go back to his early years at Little John, Inc? Listen in to find out.


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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.  

Edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.

Connect with Jason on LinkedIn.

Connect with Tully on LinkedIn.