Rel­a­tive val­ues

Dis­tri­bu­tion is a tough busi­ness, so when you launch into the dis­tri­bu­tion sec­tor you need a point of dif­fer­ence. At A&W Hol­lier their fam­ily val­ues make them a unique propo­si­tion. Busi­ness First speaks with gen­eral man­ager Rod­ney Cas­se­tari and owner Arth

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Arthur Essey, a man who be­lieves that you do the best you can do, be­lieves that A&W Hol­lier is a baby in the dis­tri­bu­tion in­dus­try. The com­pany is 25 years old and Arthur has been in dis­tri­bu­tion since 1973, how­ever in­fant or not, this is a busi­ness that has been op­er­at­ing on decades of cus­tomer value, led by Arthur and his wife Wanda.

Arthur started in the whole­sale in­dus­try in 1983 with his broth­ers, by 1988 he had founded A&W Whole­salers with Wanda and three years later this highly suc­cess­ful hus­band and wife team pur­chased Hol­lier con­fec­tionery, cre­at­ing A & W Hol­lier.

To­day they are a ma­jor player in whole­sale dis­tri­bu­tion with a sub­stan­tial fleet, a team of ap­prox­i­mately 250 peo­ple and thou­sands of prod­ucts. Through this growth they have not lost sight of the fam­ily val­ues that brought them suc­cess and it is these val­ues that drive their per­sonal ser­vice.

As an in­ter­est­ing aside, Rod­ney has shared those fam­ily val­ues for years.

“I knew Rod­ney per­son­ally as he was friends with my son and I knew he was very in­tel­li­gent, very ca­pa­ble,” Arthur says. “From day one he’s shown the ap­ti­tude to be a leader and he’s grabbed the reigns. I take the credit for this be­cause I brought him along and into this in­dus­try and it’s been very re­ward­ing. From a one-man show, so to speak, he’s turned the busi­ness into one with a lot more di­rec­tion. And that’s re­ally given the com­pany longevity. He is close enough to be­ing fam­ily to de­velop the busi­ness into ar­eas where it gave the com­pany longevity and also gave us fore­sight.”

Rod­ney, who has worked in sev­eral fam­ily busi­nesses in­clud­ing his fa­ther’s, be­lieves that the care a fam­ily busi­ness has for its staff and clients is its great­est as­set. And this trans­lates to ser­vice. While Rod­ney has brought in sys­tems and pro­cesses to fa­cil­i­tate growth, ser­vice is key.

For in­stance at Hol­lier there is a 24hour turn­around on all or­ders placed, per­sonal ser­vice is guar­an­teed by the sales team and tele­phone sup­port is of­fered by team mem­bers who un­der­stand par­tic­u­lar busi­nesses.

More specif­i­cally their vi­sion is to be ac­knowl­edged by their cus­tomers, em­ploy­ees and sup­pli­ers as the premier dis­tri­bu­tion com­pany in their mar­ket­place.

It is this vi­sion that surely at­tracted the more ma­ture and iconic Dick­sons into a re­cent merger. Dick­sons has over 150 years in dis­tri­bu­tion and is also a fam­ily-owned en­tity. Its di­rec­tors Richard and An­drew Lloyd are the fourth gen­er­a­tion of Lloyds to work in the busi­ness.

“I think that the busi­nesses had very sim­i­lar val­ues, but we also brought con­trast­ing skills and I think com­ple­men­tary skills to cre­ate a suc­cess­ful mar­riage,” Rod­ney says. “We both have ar­eas of strength and it was great that they acutely com­ple­mented each other and added value to the busi­ness over­all. The long term ben­e­fits are na­tional pro­cure­ment, sys­tem in­te­gra­tion, one pur­chas­ing depart­ment, an aligned sales force and what we pride our­selves on: a greater ser­vice level. This merger will help us de­liver a uni­fied or uni­form ser­vice level across the coun­try.”

So you get a sense that Hol­lier is a busi­ness above and be­yond dis­tri­bu­tion; val­ues and ser­vice make suc­cess­ful dis­tri­bu­tion pos­si­ble. And suc­cess­ful dis­tri­bu­tion equates to growth.

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