Wharton / LMC Advanced Business Acumen

Wharton / LMC Advanced Business Acumen by Steve Thielman


As you’ve read Nick’s notes, a lot to absorb.  I’ll be breaking down this information in bites to reinforce the comprehension.  Do not mistake this as a ‘what we did in Philly’ as much as real education for all of us to share/use/discuss.



The dealers attending spanned from the west coast to the east coast.  Supplying Clint Eastwood’s house, regularly leveling a $4 million dollar home to put up $10 miilion dollar home on Cape Cod, Jewish communities building sukkahs (look it up), supplying $20 million in engineered lumber to one client, 80 LLCs connected to one lumber company, wood gutter actually exists (Boston gutter), growth over 10% considered crazy talk, culture perceived as a case study vs reality, supplying 40 story apartments (1 bedroom $4000.00/month, seriously), timberframed direct ship barn packages with six figure profits,  payment on account with multiple sacks of cash….the stories outside of the classroom provided a lot of perspective to how/where we stand, what to learn from and what to strive for in profitability.


Thanks to our ownership for the vision of development and the Drexel group for making these educational opportunities possible.



How the Best Get Better:


The pros that say I made mistakes all the time are the best.   Reflect on your SELF, embrace the truths.


Cal Ripken:  100 games to correct his swing.  100 times to truly develop a change into natural habit.


JFDI:  Ulitmatley nothing happens unless we act upon the decisions to improve.





I’m in marketing or delivery, why do I need to know?


  1. Knowledge permits participation in resource allocation.  Where do we spend.
  2. Professional welfare tied to financial performance.  What we earn.
  3. Help de-politicize strategic decision making.  Smart spending.


ROA:  Return on Assets (2 drivers)


  1. Profitability.  How much we earh on each sale.
  2. Efficiency:  How much we earn based on our resources (equipmet, people, processes).


Opportunity Cost:  What is it?  Think in terms of quotes and no sales to show for the work.  This is opportunity cost.


I’ll leave this installment with a case study discussed.   Ask Nick, Paul or myself what the actual outcome was…answer will also be provided in a future blog.


Negotiation Test:


Roosevelt’s campaign manager produced a pamphlet with a copyrighted photograph on its cover.  3 million copies of the pamphlet had been produced.  It had to be used and there was no time to re-do it.  The cost of using the photograph was $1.00 per pamphlet.  The campaign was short on funds.  The photographer, a man named Moffet, was hard up for money and hard to reason with.  As the campaign manager,  what did you negotiate?


Nick Whitty, Paul Reis, and Steve Thielman last week took an intense leadership training, management building material focused course at Wharton University in Pennsylvania.  It’s one of the top business schools in the country.

Here is Nick’s recap to me.  You can feel his energy and passion in the e-mail!  In the coming posts, Steve and Paul will recap for us what they learned and what we can now learn from them!



From: nick whitty [mailto:nick.whitty@drexelteam.com]
Sent: Monday, January 23, 2017 9:08 PM
To: Joel Fleischman
Subject: Wharton Re-cap


Thanks for the opportunity.  Life changing at the very least.  Now just have to make it stick.


*****Skip all the way to the bottom for the paragraph version recap*****


– Goal setting

-Find time and space to reflect

-Bring others with you (easiest way is to involve the team and get them excited with you)

-Take an outsider point of view on your efforts

-Create a road map, with milestones

-Share your vision “our tongues are our rudders”

-Plan for small victories and small changes


– Close the saying-doing gap (They really came out with live bullet’s calling bullshit on anyone who was there to coast)




Take small steps

Alter the environment

Realistic optimism


– “People make decisions not on the facts, but their interpretation of the facts


– 3 way’s of engaging

-Influence, Focus most attention here.  Build relationships and rapport with people

-Persuasion, Must be based on reasons.  Portray on their terms, not on ours

– Negotiation, Everything is give and take. Based on Trades

– Every outcome of engaging is based on the depth of the social network


– 4 C’s

– Consider the Conversation with the other person

– Connect, work to remove the 5 barriers

– Communicate, keep it simple. To the point and hear the feedback

– Commit, end every conversation with the next step.  (Action plans, deadlines)



-Problem, A short concise statement that defines the problem your idea solves.  KEEP IT SIMPLE

– Cause, An explanation of the cause of this problem or need

– Answer, Your solution or answer for the situation

– Net Benefits, A summary of why your answer is the best available, all options considered


– “Low Trust = High Transaction Costs”

-Would be a fun exercise to dive into with sales guys.  Would need to define transaction costs.  Could base it on margins?  Need to think about this          one.  But a cool statement none-the-less.


– ATO (Asset Turnover)

-Sales/Avg. Total Assets

Not looking to get too deep with this but Sales $ per delivery truck would be a cool #.  I can get this and then see if there’s industry average to                                   shoot for?  Wilbanks question?


– Finance Day

-Got my ass kicked on this one.  Whole bunch of calculations and formula’s. Yikes.

-Key Take Always – Day’s receivable is crucial for cash flow, Thank god we take our discounts, Cooking the books = Unemployment line and Jail time.

– Net Present Value, I wouldn’t know what to do with it if I was told what ours is but would be curious to see if Julie dove into this after last year?

– Microsoft makes a shit pile of $$$.  Instructor shared the financial statements.  Wow.


-Negotiation Day, This one was dynamite.  Instant offense here.

– Communicate the way other people want to be talked to, not how I want to talk.

– Prepare for meetings more than just on the way there.  Task the team to do this separate of us as leaders but go through it before the meeting

– 4-steps

1) Prepare, 70% of negotiations are won and lost here.  Should probably do more of this

2)  Probe, Make it positive and productive – Understand the other persons point of view

3)  Start the give and take, back and forth. “Dave if you can commit to 1 week lead time we can hold that price”

4)  Close – Spend enough time and be clear.  Make sure the other person understands.  No handshakes and dash.


-“Negotiation is a liquid, not a solid” – Eye opener.

-“Make your ask in their terms, speak to a higher interest”

– Tricks don’t work.  Be yourself or you’ll lose the relationship eventually anyway

– Credibility is the most important single asset of a good negotiator.  Tell the truth, but do it slowly.

-Best way to prepare is to Role Play


*****Side note: The path we’re going with State of Happiness needs to continue to be more stories.  These instructors were literally speaking a foreign language to most people in the class, but they told stories that tied what they were saying together to keep us engaged.  90% stories creates the best and most engaging presentation. *****


-Recognize the other person’s negotiating style

Competitor, Collaborator, Compromiser, Avoider, Accommodator.


-Who should open a meeting?

-Whomever thinks they have the most information.  Gives you the ability to steer the meeting.  (AKA, it’s better to be a dumbass in silence than to open your mouth and prove it)


– Use the negotiation preparation checklist. Quick bullet points to help think more clearly.




-Exit interviews.  Curious to see historical thoughts on this?  Caitlin question.


-Use more behavioral questions at interviews.

“Tell me about a time when you were…”


“Where you want to get to should never change, how you get there is where you should pivot”

-JFDI (Just F’n Do It) – Good and Bad.  Slow this process down at times


-Test and Learn

-Every experiment needs a budget.  But don’t do with the mindset of, “What will this add to the bottom line?”


– Customer attitudes are changing

-If we can help connect the dots on the labor shortage, we can position ourselves for world domination.  Are we being left in the dust by not looking        into this?  Is XXX onto something with installed sales?  Dudes from North Carolina have kept and landed big business but offering the service.  Their            words not mine, “We’ve kept our local economies going and boosted them by doing installed sales.” – Is this because their local markets are hurting?          Little guys without the cashflow to pull out of the downturn?


– Are we truly customer centric anymore?

-Has the pendulum swung too hard with some team members, vendors?

-Every decision has to be made with the idea of, will this help my customer?

-Margin, Margin, Margin. – We can’t do cool shit without making money.  50 sales people feeding 250, does everyone understand how important every single sale is?  Complacency is a scary thing.


– Customers don’t care about funnels

-It’s ok for inside guys to work across lines in certain scenario’s.

-Embrace this, let them run with it.  Make it easy for the customer and refine behind the scene’s.


– We need to figure out online banking.  At least need to be able to pay bill’s online.

-I don’t remember the last time I wrote a check for somewhere other than Drexel.

-We will lose business because of this.

-Needs to go to the forefront, not for us, but for our customers.


-Wharton endorses Ready, Fire, Aim.


Talent Management Day: What to do with Millenials


-Thought I’d want to barf the whole class, but the dude running it shot holes in the entire idea of millenial and basically called bullshit on anyone who wanted to argue.  Pretty cool


– Old dudes think they are perfect, need youth to keep us sharp.


– Social relations hold employees.

-“They may hate their job, and where they work, but if they love who they work with they will stay.”

-I almost came out of my f’n chair when he said this. I wanted to ask how many of these companies make it longer than 5 years.


-Create Stretch Assignment’s

-Put people out in front of their ski’s.

-Think we can do this better in Wrightstown, needs to be strategic though.


The whole day was pretty lame.  Too much focus on the numbers and not on the person.


Thursday: Customer Centricity


-This guy lost me pretty early on.  But I can sum up what he said over the course of 5 hours.


Find customers who are high margin and buy a lot of your stuff, find more like them, sell them a lot of stuff at a high margin.


-Big focus on CRM’s, need to track every sale, how did we get it, what trends can we spot.  Maybe a Doug/Andy thing, maybe.  Amazon was a client of this guys.


– Customer PNL’s. – LOVED THIS.  Going to try and set a small, easy to do template and test pilot with top 20 at W-town.  Will follow up with the results.  Are they really that profitable?


– Anybody can say what they are going to do, but the best know what they AREN’T going to do.  We can’t be everything, for everyone, every time.  And we have to be okay with that.

– C.A.S.E. is great when it’s quick hitters but we can’t get caught in the “At XXX we used to…, When I was with x we would…” – Well then why the hell             aren’t you still there and why are they out of business?  Laser focus on our goals and who we are.  We’re too big to be fragmented now.


– Customer experience will always win.  Strategy MUST be focused on this.  What can we do that our competition can’t easily replicate or do better than us?  Google vs. Microsoft, Southwest Airlines vs. Continental.  Put the blinders up and supply happiness like our lives depended on it.  Don’t get caught trying to be the competition’s better version, that’s a race to the price dungeon.


– We got into small groups and we were supposed to talk about what we do differently that our competition can’t easily replicate.  Interestingly enough Paul, Steve, and myself all spoke about culture and supplying happiness.



Alright to recap the week in a couple paragraphs will be tough.  Too many laugh’s, too much knowledge gained, too many interesting people met to do it justice with a few simple sentences.  The biggest thing I got out of the whole week is we all truly and honestly take for granted how fortunate we are to be on the Blue Bus.  I watched guys pace the hallway’s between class and worry about sales, truck’s breaking down, something on the fritz at their locations and my mind was blown with how much that must suck.  Our team is the best in the country, no doubt in my mind about that.  There may be specific people around the nation that can sell more, or maybe a yard or two that can spin more loads a day than we can, but there is nobody that has a better team than we do.  The things we’re doing for our customers, community and team members are so far ahead of the rest of the nation they don’t know how to even ask questions to figure it out.


Thank you again for the opportunity and I look forward to putting it all to use in the years to come  –


Nick Whitty




We had 2 people from Marian shadow our company for the week.   Here was her review.

Never take who you  and we are for granted.

Being happy is WORK.  I get that.  But it is so worth it!



From: Bartlett, Alyssa M [mailto:ambartlett98@marianuniversity.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, January 18, 2017 6:25 AM
To: Caitlin Stoll
Subject: Thank you


Drexel Team,


Thank you for taking time out of your own schedules to work with me this past week during my externship. By far this has been the best company I have ever seen. The externship turned out great! I loved hearing from all the different types of departments Drexel has. Throughout the externship, Drexel’s core value, Have Fun, really came to play. Whether it was always being offered donuts, or even fruit from Stacy’s desk. Watching the “fake” version of kick the ceiling, while trying to shadow Stacy. Everyone getting along and making jokes made the externship better than any ordinary job. Drexel was a great company to do my externship. Working as a TEAM makes a huge difference in the company, and even the community. Thank you for the great opportunity!


Please share with Team Members,



Alyssa Bartlett



Marian University

Double Major: Psychology & Expressive and Therapeutic Arts






What if Drexel wasn’t the biggest, wasn’t the smallest, wasn’t maybe even the best…









— – 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.






Just because you aren’t making progress as fast as you think you should doesn’t mean you’re not making progress… Keep Going!


People want the RESULT but want to abort the process: But it’s the process that prepares us for the RESULT!


God did not make anyone to be average. Most people will fail on that.  That is a human weakness.  You can improve.  You can get better.  You can be a leader no matter your position in life.  That is what makes God happy, to live out the life you were meant to.


A story of Kodak.  They had 90% market share world wide.  145,000 team members. In 2012 they declared bankruptcy.

They printed pictures.  They forgot their own motto “you press the button…we do the rest” – that should have translated as a picture made simply and ready to share – by ANY means. If they had kept to this they would probably have been the owners of Instagram… instead they focused on printing pictures and faded like an old picture.

We must stay hungry.

Kodak also paid their sales team on salary only once they had a ton of market share.  They were established accounts, no reason to do commissions anymore.  Xerox started up with heavy commissions, and opportunity to change the world.  Kodak quickly lost some of their best sales people…

The hungrier we stay the more we will eat.


Are we an EVOLUTIONARY company or a REVOLUTIONARY company?  I HEAR SO OFTEN…   That is what Stock did.  That is what we used to do.  That is what  I was told to do when I stared at “CBS” 10 years ago.  That is what “the old Drexel” did. That is what we used to do at the old company I worked for.  That is what we did on the farm.  Most of these “success stories” were done at businesses THAT ARE NOW OUT OF BUSINESS, OR DECADES AGO!   Are we tweaking something that ain’t broke, or are we REVOLUTIONARY?  JUST BECAUESE IT WORKS NOW, DOES NOT MEAN IT WILL WORK IN 2020!  DON’T LET THAT VOICE IN YOUR HEAD SAY, BUT…BUT…BUT… CHANGE THAT THINKING!




I see way too many internal conflicts, we obsess about them sometimes.  This guy, that girl.  Let’s work together.  Outside influences will try to take us out.  Why would we worry so on our internal team interpersonal conflicts?  Move on, get along.  Fight the competition not us.  Sales vs. ops.  Support vs. sales.  Leaders vs. other team members.  Installers vs sales.   So boring.  So been there done that.  Move on.  Be revolutionary.  These “conflicts” are mostly in your head, we are ONE TEAM, ONE MISSION.  FOCUS ON THAT.

Doing something mundane 100% complete and accurate with all your effort and with a smile on your face is WAY MORE IMPORTANT with little appreciation, because it was done in the shadows, is way cooler than one “awesome” project you worked on.  Enjoy the little tasks.


FACE TO FACE.  I get so many emails that require face to face conversations.  Get off our asses and talk to each other.  Human interaction is still how life works.  Handshakes and hugs are still awesome.  Technology is great, friggin awesome, but it doesn’t change a hug or a handshake.  Think of it this way… of the loved ones you lost… you want to give them a hug or a firm handshake and talk to them, or send them an email or like their status?


Packers are going to win the superbowl.  Nothing wrong with believing.  It feels gooood.


I have no idea if Trump will be a good president or not.  I don’t care either. I REALLY don’t care what the media is saying or celebrities.


The news is in the MAKING NEWS business not REPORTING NEWS business.  REMEMBER THAT!


I did some coaching with a team member Friday… he was so busy when a client was at the counter…these are the EXACT WORDS he said to that client (I wrote them down)

“whatcha need”

“I’ll check”

“I’ll look for you”

“No problem”

That was the entire transaction.  He had no idea he was doing it, but he was just going through the motions.  Trust me clients can tell.  Why do people love to talk to Albert?  He never goes through the motions with a client.  Ever.   Each talk with them is an experience.  That is what people crave… experiences.


If you made a goal for 2017.  You probably already failed.  It doesn’t mean the goal is over.  DON’T BE AVERAGE!  DON’T EVER GIVE UP GETTING BETTER.


The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.”


This was written over 2000 years ago!   Every generation thinks the new generation has major issues, this is as old as human kind.  I am so tired of hearing millenials don’t do this or that… b.s.  Each generation changes the world.


You don’t have to find God.   GOD IS NOT HIDING.  He is in YOU.   Look in, not out.



— – 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.



They come and go, like the sun rising and setting.    Many goals, are good intentions that were never created into a habit, and fall dead, to resurface again and again with no impact.

I’ve read 8% of the people that commit to a New Year’s Resolution are successful.  Maybe we are doing it wrong.

Many times goals are complicated.  I want to eat better, live healthier, or whatever.  And we have too many, here are my top 10 goals this week…

It’s why Jon Gordon’s ONE WORD really hit home for me.  Each year you pray, reflect, and discuss and finally land on YOUR ONE WORD for the year.  Last year for me was WISDOM.  Often I went back to it, and WISDOM really helped me focus on what I wanted to do this year.

This year mine is TEACH.

To me that means to not PREACH, but TEACH.   To let those around me find their answers, I just ask questions.  Also, with now over 20 years experience I do have a few things to share, so share I will!

Teaching means patience, slowing down, encouraging mistakes to those around me so they can learn and grow from them.  Allowing them to fail.   Building them up to succeed!

This works for me in my personal and professional life.

Excellent one words can impact your entire life.

I encourage all of you to do the One Word Challenge and share them with those close to you.

Here are a few I received from people at Drexel for 2017:


my 2017 word is…  ACTION

I’m confident that we have a good plan in place for 2017. now its time to put those plans into action. talk is cheap, ACTION required!


My one word goal for 2017 is STEP… one foot in front of the other, always forward, next step



Sometimes old ideas are discarded as being wrong or outright foolish, but maybe it just wasn’t the right time for that particular thing to work.  We need to be willing to “RETHINK” an idea and be willing to tweak it or look into it more closely to fit into what we are doing now.

Think about the Tesla motor company.  Electric cars were around in the early 1900’s, but the time and resources weren’t right for it at that time.  Now, the electric car is fast becoming a staple in the car industry.


Devoted!  To be totally devoted to the aspects of my life that make me better.

Being devoted to wife and my kids by always being the best me I can be. Devoted to my career and company that is devoted to me and my family’s livelihood. Devoted to team Drexel/Team Blue and all the people that make this company great and and are taking this company forward to greatness!


and one of my favorites:

DONE. something I picked up from Under Armour in Baltimore. When they do something they call it Done Done Done. Which believe it or not is different than just Done. Taking something from  and idea to finish to follow up, to making a part of their culture. 2017 will be  a year in which we will be changing our attitudes and mindsets on lots of different things. We cant just get stuff DONE, We need to get it DONE DONE DONE.



What will yours be?  Feel free to share as a comment below in this blog.

To learn more:


— – 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.