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
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.