We truly believe a tree that is not growing is dying.

A tree doesn’t ever grow too fast that it dies.  It will slow the growth when there are struggles.  Growth is managed based on many factors, light, rain, ground conditions, disease and the competition in the forest.  Same for Drexel.  Same for you.  Some days all we can do is hold our roots and let the storm pass.  That’s enough sometimes.  Sometimes large growth is made.  We will not grow beyond our roots.   When the conditions are right, we take advantage and grow to our capacity.  If you feel your roots are lifting up out of the ground… please reach out to someone, if you don’t know where to start, reach out to me.


Today, this very day, you will run into someone with a load of packages.   You will run into someone that has a full burden.  They have too many groceries.  Those groceries will be emotional, or task driven.  What will you do?   Will you offer support?   A ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on?   Will you offer to help in any one way you uniquely can.  Perhaps you can offer to write up an order.  Make a delivery.  Take a walk in the yard with them.   Make a phone call.  Something well beyond your “job duties”.    Will you notice that person and will you offer to help?


If you treat a vendor like a friend, pretty soon they will treat you like a friend.   Same for a co-worker.   A spouse.  A customer.  Treat them like a friend, and soon enough they will treat you like friends.  And then you will be surrounded by friends.  Weird how simple that is and how that works.   Be the change you want to see in the world.



We have 260 full time people that call Drexel their home away from home, almost 300 with our part timers.  We have 52 people that call themselves sales people- flooring, cabinetry, commercial, and account managers.   That is less then 20%— or 2 out of 10 people are out everyday keeping the orders coming in for us to keep our careers going.


1. They bring in ALL the new business AND have the BEST relationships out there.

2. Without them there is no “us”.  Think of them as our “internal customers.”

3. They live on commission and will starve to death without business.

4. No salesperson has EVER been successful BEHIND A COMPUTER, ok maybe if you sell on ebay or something…  SAME FOR STORE LEADERS.  SAME FOR ME.  SAME FOR THOSE THAT WORK AT THE ZOO.  LET’S HELP THEM GET OUT OF THEIR DESKS.   GET THEM MOBILE.  COMPANIES and CERTAINLY SALESPEOPLE GO BROKE STARING AT COMPUTERS.  COMPANIES AND SALESPEOPLE THRIVE WHEN THEY GO AND SELL THE VISION OF THE COMPANY.  I know personally I have to shift my focus.  I ALWAYS have something to do on the computer… like write this blog…but Joel stop it.  Get out there.  Get in front of customers.  Weenie wagon and the WOWbulance** are starting soon… I will be at them.  Perfect!

5. #4 means we need to make their life easier- not enabling them to encourage bad habits- but supporting them by making sure their orders, their relationships solidify with our help.

6.  They take the phone calls when things go bad.  They meet the customer when she is jacked up and ready to kill us.  That’s breaking their promise they made with her- we will make you happier!  Breaking promises is never fun.

7.  Every day they fight for US.   We must FIGHT FOR THEM.  Fight your vendors, fight your team- DON’T SETTLE AND DON’T MAKE EXCUSES.  Not to be dramatic, but to HELP THEM.

8.  Everyone one of them faces a TON OF REJECTION.  Even on an each individual project.  How often do we sell EVERYTHING?   Foam, to locksets, to shingles, to siding, to windows, to doors, to lumber, to nails.  To counters, to cabinets, to cabinetry hardware.  To tile, carpet, and hardwood.  And all places in between?  Not often.  Meaning on every job, they almost always LOSE.  That’s tough.

9.   How often do jobs go perfect? Oh boy.  No problems, only solutions.  It’s why we need to help them stay totally optimistic.  The sun will come out tomorrow!

10.  It’s MUCH easier to sell on price, have the cheapest carpet install, the cheapest lumber package… but that isn’t selling, that’s prime order taking, and at LOW MARGINS TOO!   Anyone can be the cheapest, but those sales people, those companies don’t last long…someone is ALWAYS CHEAPER.  So they need to be out and about and share our vision.  You see when people buy a 2×4 from us, or a window, or a deck, they are buying our mission of sharing happiness, with them, with us, with the community.  Menards ain’t sharing no happiness!  For our salesman to do that they have to be out of the office, they can’t be putting out internal  fires.

11.  The better they are trained, educated, able to handle stress, stay positive, are energetic, and organized… the better DREXEL IS.  Simple.

12.  Thank you sales people!  May you live long and prosper– and always be selling!  To me, it’s my life… I love selling.


Quit selling “markets.”  “We need to sell to more remodelers.  We to target Waupaca.  We need to sell to more shinglers.  We need to sell to more designers.”  STOP IT!

No one in the building supply industry sells to a “market.”

They sell to people.  One person, one business, fulfill their needs.  Rifle approach.  Find a person, share our vision.  See if we can supply happiness to them, and if we can, let’s do that.  And go to the next person and help them.  And then the next and the next.

I’ve never seen ANYONE sell a market.  So let’s stop thinking and talking that way.

** What’s a WOWbulance?  This is a WOWbulance.



– Joel Fleischman.  Joel is Head Coach of the solution providers for Drexel Building Supply.  (drexelteam).   You can follow him on twitter:  @JoelmFleischman.   Our mission is to be a supplier of others happiness.  I hope this little post did just that.





To succeed your positive energy must be greater than all the negativity of others.

Your faith must be greater than all the doubt!


– Joel Fleischman.  Joel is Head Coach of the solution providers for Drexel Building Supply.  (drexelteam).   You can follow him on twitter:  @JoelmFleischman.   Our mission is to be a supplier of others happiness.  I hope this little post did just that.



Thank God it’s Monday.


There is a thing called “The Madonna of the Future” about an artist who devotes her life to a single painting.   When she died her friends and family couldn’t wait to see the painting… When they entered her art room where she spent her whole life,  it is discovered that her canvas is still blank.  She never finished because she never started…  In the act of making it perfect… she NEVER STARTED.

This blog today isn’t perfect.  But it is done.  It is posted.  It does exist.



These are one line quotes from a book I recently read “Wild Goose Chase” by Mark Batterson.  I hope you personally connect with one or several of these and use as motivation this week and your life is changed because of it.  Yep.  I have high goals.  Change.  The.  World.

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death.


Don’t let fear dictate your decisions. 

Fear is often disguised as laziness.  They are not laziness, they are just scared to start.

Don’t take the easy way out.

God didn’t make you to point out life’s problems.

Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution.

Stop repeating the past; create the future.

Create margins- balance- take time for just you.

Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can.

(Yes Beth, I thought of you!)


Don’t try to be who you are not.  Be yourself.

If nothing else, Drexel believes in you.  We hired you and we only hire rock stars.

Don’t make a living.  Make a reputation.  Make a life.


Quit making excuses.

Here’s the example and real life story.  I hope this person reads this.  When you see it in writing it’s almost comical.   It’s really sad and tragic though.  I hope they read this, realize I am talking to them and change!

I heard last week a salesman wants and needs:

Although that sales person had record sales and margins… they needed or they just wouldn’t be happy or successful (did I mention they already had record sales and margin going for them.)

  1. I need someone to help sell new accounts.  (Ideally Joel or Doug, because they are the best.)
  2. I need someone to do my administrative work.
  3. I need someone to train the team I work with.  They are busy and or not experienced enough.
  4. I need someone to do my estimates.
  5. I need someone to help at the job site on my larger jobs.
  6. I need someone to take on smaller jobs so I could focus on the larger ones.   These small jobs bog me down.
  7. I need Joel to fix this.  I told Joel all the problems and he has done nothing to fix it.

I PROMISE YOU THIS PERSON SAID ALL THIS AND WAS 100% SINCERE!   I also promise you this person is not the first one in the parking lot and is also not the last one to leave.  This person knows deep down what has to be done, yet will they do it…?  It really is one of the most frustrating and tough parts of my job, I have no idea how to help them.  I want to help.  All I could think of is writing this down and hoping they will say, it’s about me, I have to change after they seeing it in writing.     Team, when you come to me with these type of requests, I am not going to do anything.    I can’t fix you!  You have to fix you!

Quit playing defense.


And quit putting 8 foot ceilings on what God can do.




You want or need more?:

Here’s a 15 minute video on GRIT by Jon Gordon.


– Joel Fleischman.  Joel is Head Coach of the solution providers for Drexel Building Supply.  (drexelteam).   You can follow him on twitter:  @JoelmFleischman.   Our mission is to be a supplier of others happiness.  I hope this little post did just that.





How This Soccer Legend Relates to the ProSales 100 … and You

Keep Johan Cruyff’s advice in mind when you scan this year’s list, ProSales’ editor suggests

The fact that this month’s issue of ProSales is devoted to LBM’s giants–the soon-to-be-released 2016 version of ProSales 100–strikes me as an especially good time to enlist as a guest analyst Johan Cruyff, universally acknowledged as one of the five greatest soccer players of all time.

Unlike others atop that legends list, the recently departed Cruyff also was one of soccer’s best coaches. And he was one of the most quotable; this was a man whose head was as talented as his feet, and whose advice is asworthwhile in LBM as it was in soccer.

For instance, Cruyff believed that mastering soccer’s basic motor skills does little good unless you think about how to use those skills to maximum effect. “Technique is not being able to juggle a ball 1,000 times,” he said. “Anyone can do that by practicing. Then you can work in a circus. Technique is passing the ball with one touch, with the right speed, at the right foot of your teammate.”

That quote blends well with another that The New York Times liked so much it included it in Cruyff’s obituary in March: “Quality without results is pointless. Results without quality is boring.”   I LOVE THIS LINE.  QUALITY IS HOW WE TREAT OURSELVES AND OUR CUSTOMERS…AND RESULTS IS NET INCOME.  WE MUST HAVE BOTH. 

Keep those words in mind when you look through the 2016 edition of the ProSales 100 list. It shows that all the mega-mergers from last year—most notably Builders FirstSource with ProBuild, BMC with Stock, and Beacon Roofing with the Roofing Supply Group—mean the top 10 firms now account for 69.1% of the entire ProSales 100’s revenues (up from 61.3% in 2015) and 65% of all the facilities (up from 56%). Revenues for the top 10 rose 11.3% last year. For the other 90, it was 8%.

To the top 10, I say congratulations. You’re generating results, certainly on the top line and sometimes on the bottom line as well. But keep striving for quality, too. You have it within you to take LBM to the next level.

To those outside the top 10, be concerned but don’t despair. Big revenues are no guarantee of big profits, nor do they assure that the giant will win every time. As Cruyff put it: “Why shouldn’t you beat a richer club? I’ve never seen a bag of money score a goal.” The World Series champion Kansas City Royals can tell you what’s true in soccer applies to baseball. And in construction supply, I’ve seen a slew of companies with operations that don’t match big dealers in size but far exceed them in terms of generating results that profit their stores and their communities.

At the same time, I’m not going to subscribe to the small-is-beautiful mindset when I also see so many dealers struggle to generate even a 3% net profit. DREXEL IS JUST A HAIR ABOVE 3%… WE HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT NET INCOME IS KEY… BEING EFFICIENT (PAYROLL IS BY FAR OUR LARGEST COST, AND PRICE INTEGRITY IS OUR BEST OPPORTUNITY TO ENSURE A WORLD CLASS NET INCOME.  WHEN WE SELL SPECIALTY PRODUCTS IT TAKES A LARGE TEAM, WHICH MEANS WE NEED TO HAVE MARGIN.)  They might feel good about the quality they deliver, but Cruyff is right: Claiming you’re a high-quality operation might make you feel good when you see a big rival’s truck drive by, but without also producing results, you’re not really in the game.

Craig Webb is editor-in-chief of REMODELING and PROSALES. Follow him on Twitter at @craiglwebb or @RemodelingMag.




The Eden Train Wreck- A story of who and what Drexel was and is.

A  few weeks before July 4th, 1992 was a very busy time in our companies history.   Sales were booming and our team was growing and running on all cylinders… (sound familiar?)

Then the great train wreck of Eden, Wisconsin happened on June 24, 1992.

See this link to view some great pictures of this historic event.

It hit national news and was certainly the talk of the area.  Many “family field trips” were assembled to go see the pile of ruined steel.

My dad had a few decisions to make.  As you can see in the pictures on the link there were a few cars of lumber on this train.

This lumber was not destined for us.  We did receive lumber by rail car on this very line, but this lumber was meant for someone else.   We had enough lumber already.

Our team at that time was less then 10 people.  Yet my dad saw that lumber and wondered if somehow there could be an opportunity.

As you can see it really made no sense, and at the minimal this deal would require some guts, some luck, a ton of communication and some all balls out work!

So… of course my dad passed on this opportunity, didn’t he…I mean a pile of steel with a few cars of lumber in between… who wants that headache?  But of course, there is no story if he passed up on this.

It was a few weeks before July 4th, contractors needed orders placed, there were loads to pull, and we needed a float for the parade.  Dad had no one to lean on to make this all come together.  Surely he passed.

Or not.

One phone call couldn’t hurt… So he called the railroad station, not once but several times.  He was persistent and finally got the right person on the phone.  This had to happen fast, like now, the rail had to get re-opened.  Turns out the lumber was 2×4, and not only that, it was top quality, in fact a few grades higher then what we sell.  These 2x4s were destined for a truss plant.

It wasn’t easy, but this lumber had to go and there were limited buyers.  Dad stuck to his low offer.  He still had no plan in place on how he would actually move the product.  We had no boom truck, no moffet, no semis.  And “almost” no workers.  We were already working 10 to 12 hours a day just helping the customers we already had.

Yet he continued and pursued.

In under 48 hours after he purchased the lumber, we had to have the material GONE.  Semis were rented, forklifts were moved, labor was found; we all agreed to work until dark after our 12 hour days and my dad’s childhood friend and a loyal contractor Steve Schrauth agreed to help.

My mom helped out and bought us burgers from Tuckers in Fond du lac every night.   These were some of the best burgers I’ve ever had.

We were “rockstars” in this little town (5 miles north of Campbellsport) as we pulled and prodded each 2×4 onto any truck we could find.  People came from miles to see the wreck and my dad worked the crowd as he new many of the people.  He was P.T. Barnum in his own little circus.  Many of the units had to be picked apart by hand.  The work was grueling.  It was hot and we only had one forklift, so often each board was hand loaded onto a truck.  One board at a time.  It was great exposure for our little lumberyard.  Scott Rosenthal, Ron Neitzel, Craig Johnson and myself all helped.  I believe we each got a cash bonus on top of our overtime pay.  It was hard work, and we worked until dark, but also very enjoyable.

On the sales side, we made very good money off of the train wreck 2x4s, and since they were truss grade, to this day the best framing lumber we have ever had.  I know we were proud and some of our customers too (surely Steve Schrauth) when some of this very lumber went into homes around the area that summer.

I do hope and pray that no matter how big we are, or how big we get, we could still pull this off.  At that time we didn’t have core values, but it did take a great deal of:

  1. winning attitude
  2. team work
  3. have fun
  4. communication

And of course the things we promote here… don’t be afraid to fail, work your ass off… and one of my favorites, READY, FIRE, AIM.  If my dad sat down with us and built a team to decide and just slowed it down and didn’t react quickly and took a big risk… surely this opportunity and part of our legacy would of passed.  It was an experience of a lifetime,  it just made sense for us, it’s who we are!

I hope we can all learn a lot from the train wreck of Eden in 1992*.

joel 1 joel 2 joel 3 joel 4 joel 5 joel 6 joel 7 joel 8 joel 9 joel 10 joel 11 joel 12 joel 13 joel 14 joel 15 Joel 16 Joel 17 Joel 18 Joel 19 Joel 20 Joel 21 Joel 22 trainjoel

Yep, that dude with hair? That’s me!

– Joel Fleischman.  Joel is Head Coach of the solution providers for Drexel Building Supply.  (drexelteam).   You can follow him on twitter:  @JoelmFleischman.   Our mission is to be a supplier of others happiness.  I hope this little post did just that.

*** The For River Valley train rail from Eden to West Bend did close in 2000, and was named the Eisenbahn walking trail.  Who named the trail?  Rumor has it, it was one of the guys hauling those 2x4s out of the Eden train wreck.


%d bloggers like this: