I received this e-mail this morning.  And I have been asked versions of this for as long as I have worked here.


 Joel, I know we are all in business to make money, but when I read what Steve wrote it sounds like he lied to our vendor to get a discount. I also know that core value number one is Ethics. Are we crossing a line by doing this? Not trying to ruffle feathers, just want to understand.  


So I thought I’d write a blog and give you my thoughts on this subject.  The topic is always up for opinion.  This is just mine.


Negotiating is not only ETHICAL but A KEY COMPONENT to ANY successful business.

We are ALWAYS SELLING AND ALWAYS NEGOTIATING.  That IS business.  No different then sports are measured in wins and losses.

In a perfect world of course every interaction would have everyone’s VERY BEST interest in mind and then bear a small profit for each person involved and equal shares of everything.  In sports, every team wins, we give out medals to all…

This ISN’T a perfect world.  There are winners…and losers… and everything in between.  Ultimately we find the best deal…and that is WORK.

Part of negotiation tactics ARE deception.  Bluffing.  Whatever term you want to use.  I don’t think most people would considering bluffing unethical, although perhaps some will.  Some people I assume would also consider 56 mph in a 55mph zone also a sin.  Or playing poker.  Or being sarcastic.  I am not one of those people.  I consider bluffing A KEY INGREDIENT in negotiation.  But be prepared to walk away if our bluff is called.  We CAN do that with integrity…. we can maintain integrity and be bold at the same time… see the bottom of the e-mail for some cool Bible quotes that use integrity and boldness for reference.

If you simply rely on “is this your best price” and the vendor says yes it is… you are quite naive, I’d go so far as to call you a fool… as this is not how negotiations work.    It is ok to ask for a deal.  It is ok to find a bargain.  It is also a trainable position,  and many of us here are trained specifically to negotiate.  We/I have read dozens of books and articles, learned from experience, trained together.  That doesn’t mean they are unethical or Un-Christian, it just means they are bargaining.

There are many techniques used, and if you want help with that please reach out to me or any of our merchants for training.

The livelihood, yes the actually reason WE STAY IN BUSINESS is because we NEGOTIATE.  You wouldn’t have a career here, we couldn’t give back to charities…we couldn’t CHANGE THE WORLD without negotiations.

Again, let’s not live in a fog where we believe people, especially billion dollar publicly traded companies that are giving us their best price on their first try…we know from experience they are not.

If we were negotiating to the point where people LOST MONEY with NO PROFIT, or if we held payment back because we were short material when we were not (a tactic used by Walmart as told to me by a Walmart vendor) or if we made up lies to not pay to our agreed to price… yes then ETHICALLY we would have large problems and that Drexel team member would most certainly be fired.

Now NEGOTIATING PRIOR TO A PURCHASE ORDER is the point where simply two partners are working to agree to a MUTUALLY AGREED TO PRICE.

REMEMBER WE NEGOTIATE WITH OUR VENDORS NOT AGAINST.  They give us a price, we ask them to reconsider for several reasons and they come back to us with a price.  We don’t, like the mafia, literally hold a gun to their head.  THEY AGREE to our mutually agreed to price.  That’s fair, ethical AND WORLD CLASS BUSINESS PRACTICES.

NOT negotiating because it makes YOU uncomfortable… is NOT doing your job.  We MUST negotiate to ensure our profits.  NO NEGOTIATING… LESS OR NO PROFITS.

Fearing an ethical problem negotiating would be like, calling it an ethical problem when a football team runs a trick play.  That is a bluff, that is deception, but that is certainly not UN ethical.

Negotiations are SUPPOSED to be messy, difficult, and uncomfortable.  But as Drexel or as me, Joel, when I shake your hand WE HAVE A DEAL.  Our word on a deal is gold.

It’s been said, “A fair deal leaves both sides unhappy.”  George R.R. Martin.

In many deals I feel this way.  I believe in that statement both sides must concede but yet win for a fair deal to happen.

I’ve negotiated thousands and thousands of deals in my life.  I believe those people I negotiated with found me tough but fair, and fun to work with even in the battles.  And afterwards we can celebrate and both move forward and have a beer together. That is at least the legacy I hope I leave.  I hope that is the legacy we leave in the industry —tough but fun and fair— Drexel.

Of course this is up for debate, and I am not God, a priest, nor a pastor…I’m just a regular dude.  This is just what I believe is true.



Maintain Your Integrity

“Debate your cause with your neighbor himself, and do not disclose a secret to another; lest he who hears it put you to shame, and your reputation be ruined” (Prov. 25:9-10).

“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you should answer everyone” (Col. 4:6).

“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it crushes the spirit” (Prov. 15:4).

Perhaps the greatest testimony during negotiations is to maintain your integrity.

Be Bold

“Be strong and of a good courage. Fear not, nor be afraid of them, for the Lord your God, it is He who goes with you. He will not fail you, nor forsake you” (Deut. 31:6).

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Josh. 1:9).

“For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and self-control” (2 Tim. 1:7).

When you know the Lord is directing your steps, it is good and right to stand firm and be bold. Non-Christians expect us to wimp out or cave in. After Pentecost, not one of the Lord’s apostles wimped out. Neither should we.


“I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”

– Andy Bernard (The Office)  


Team…. there is a good chance, right now as you sit in your office… that

Now is a time we will always remember.  For the rest of your lives we will remember these days…

our health

our friends

our business

our lives…

and we are living it right now.


Stop.  Take a deep breath.  Squeeze your love ones.  And say.. Thank you Lord.  Thank you for RIGHT.  NOW.  


— Peace and Grace,




Remember supplying happiness is: 1.  smiling and having fun and all that shit. that amazing stuff we do!

2.  we get to do that when we kind of kick ass on all that little stuff, like cleaning a bathroom, typing an order perfectly, getting our butts to jobsites, pulling perfect loads, wearing our seatbelts, catching a wrong item when receiving.

When you do your whats improving by 1% and chasing perfection (although you know you won’t reach it) and know your why… well… I think you have life figured out!

add 1 plus 2.  = BOOM. MISSION.

this video you probably saw.  i just watched…for the 500th time.  Got goosebumps.




OK, random things I learned last week.


Aaron Rodgers called out his young wide receivers, calling them “piss poor.”  I don’t know what “piss poor” actually means but I love the term.  Then this week he was asked if he was worried about if the guys were having a hard time with his criticism.  He said, “I hope our team isn’t that soft.”

I LOVED THAT.  I hope Drexel isn’t that SOFT EITHER.  If we got problems, let’s not be defensive, talk it out, and “put our big girl/boy pants on.”

Having hard conversations are easy when they come from the heart.


Salespeople!  Are you stressed? This is GOLD.  HUMOR ALWAYS HELPS!

Did you know… and wow I love this! Recently I was asked…. I assume Drexel was named Drexel because of St. Katherine Drexel.  I laughed.  I knew why they assumed that… but I realized maybe you don’t.

You see St. Katherine Drexel who lived in the late 1800s here in the United States (so you know she’s like a normal person, not a heavenly saint as you would assume)  was wealthy.  Her family traveled all over the country.  She saw the poor black people of the south and the poor native Americans in the West.  She felt very sorry for them.   So sorry she used her family’s wealth for a visit with the pope, as she was a woman of faith.  This is where things happened, that she certainly didn’t expect.

She went to the pope and stated her case.  “Sir, you should see what I’ve seen, it’s horrible.  I just wanted to have this meeting to let you know the Catholic Church should be helping these people.”  I assume she even often a bit of financial assistance to help any cause the Church would take up.

The pope though had other ideas… and often God works this way within us…

He simply turned to her and said.  “This is a GREAT IDEA,  Katherine Drexel, YOU should do this.”

The story goes… that was the end of the meeting.

…And so I assume she went away humbled.  It did “change her world” though.

She became a nun, started missionaries, Xavier University, and spent all of her wealth, all $20 million, to help these people.

Wow.  Drexel Building Supply Stuff indeed!


Best month EVER in July.   Matt, Gronk, asked me…how do we do it again…and keep doing it.


If we EACH do our JOB.  Trust each other.  It’s brilliant and simple.

Double check your acknowledgements, review your bids, be on site on first loads, double check your load before you leave.





Our contractors want us to BE ORGANIZED ON THEIR BEHALF.







Our Drexel journey is sure one hell of a ride.  We have recently been informed we are the NATIONAL PRO DEALER OF THE YEAR.  

Then we were like, hmmmm.. who do we bring to accept the award?  Downtown group, store leaders… yeah… that’s great, but how do we bring the whole team?   10…UNSUNG HEROES… that sounded just perfect.   They will come with me to accept the award.  Our people.  Our tribe.  Our way.   And we will celebrate like absolute rock stars.

Well how do we pick them?  How about if each team member can nominate one person and tell us WHY they picked them… Sincere appreciation.  Check.   Teamwork.  Check.  Love.  Check.  Caring.  Check.  Serving.  Check.  #sowedidit

105 nominations poured into my e-mail over the course of a week.  All departments nominating people from different departments.  Different stores nominated other people from other stores.  Like a tightly wound rope. Very.  Strong.  Raina got a vote for her passion to Blue Door.  All very inspiring!

Someday we will begin to share these with all of you.

Ok… so now the challenge was how do we pick 10?   I mean EVERY nomination deserved consideration!

Oh…and then it became EASY.  Each winning nomination got not 1, not 2, but 3 or more nominations.  Unreal!  Simple!

Now… we got to thinking.   These people CLEARLY mean a ton to what Drexel does.

You see, as Jon Gordon states,

A culture of greatness doesn’t happen by accident. It happens when a leader expects greatness and each person in the organization builds it, lives it, values it, reinforces it and fights for it.

These people






So this is our chance to REALLY thank them.  Chicago is gonna be great.  But what else can we do.

$5,000 payroll bonus?


$1,000 to their favorite charity?


Now how to tell them how to do it?

Let’s do a blog post and as we inform them uniquely the world will share in their happiness as we post how we did it and their reaction.

Stay tuned. I’m in no rush… so it might take a bit.

This blog will tell the story.

I’ll update this as we go.  If you have any ideas… how I can inform the HEROES… let me know!









Below the celebratory “pie in your face”…that didn’t quite make the video.  Dave VanDreese… our NEW Assistant Store Leader in Columbus.

Post Celebration, Pie in Your Face





FALL is almost here.  Hard to embrace the beauty of late summer, early fall … the end seems so near, yet is so far.  It’s like life I suppose embrace every day.


Why are YOU still doing ASAP AND DWI deliveries?



DWI… LITERALLY destroys our operations team.  “Hey, when this comes in hustle it out right away, they are HOT FOR IT.” Only TO HAVE  NO ONE ON JOBSITE WHEN WE GET THERE.

OR ASAP… which means nothing… ASAP TO ONE PERSON might be anytime this week, to the next person is in 15 minutes… determine a time.  Set expectations we can live up to!






BE AT A 8 ALL THE TIME!  10— you will burn up.  6 — crank it up!


Have you spent enough time with your team?  With your clients?  The answer is always no.  Do more of that.


I’m neither successful nor a failure.  I’m getting better.


Supplying Happiness is making things easier for those around you (team and clients).   Processes and procedures do this.  Do more of this.

Thinking bigger.  Beth reminded us a few weeks ago… where were you, where was this company 10 years ago… no go forward… 10 years from now… where will we be?  WHO KNOWS!  Never change WHO YOU ARE but change WHAT YOU DO!  We will be different, much!  EMBRACE CHANGE!


Learn.  Constantly.  About everything.  How else will you improve.


When you die people will talk about your family.  your career.  maybe your hobbies.  and your friends.  They won’t talk about how much time you were on your phone or how much TV you watched.  Remember that.


Do less.  I was at the Packer family thing Friday night.  I saw a few so unhappy kids and parents… dragging their kids around to “take it all” and “do everything”.  Go home.  Do nothing.  The memories are in the little things, not the big ones.  Do less to do more!  SAY NO.  On weekends don’t book it fill.  Leave the gaps.  Leave lots of gaps!


If you need help. Holler.  I see plenty of teams that still don’t work as one cohesive unit.  Just found out today.  Windows just started sharing bid work.  Game.  Changer.  Thank you.


CONTROL THE CONTROLLABLES.  Don’t try to get every sale.  They have to want to buy from us too, and we have to add something they need.  We have to align.  I used to force the sale, now I research the client.  Big difference!


This year we have gotten so much better… profit sharing looks extremely promising this year! … tracking very well.  All that stuff about the little things so true.  We are soooooooo close to 3 weeks paid vacation.  Do you all believe yet?  When we ALL do we WILL.


Did you really THANK a customer lately.   Don’t delay, it feels so gooood!


Every early fall my to do list to too long, days too short.  That’s ok, prioritize the good stuff will come up… the stuff you didn’t get too… that’s ok too… it probably wasn’t that important.


Many of you would be surprised I think how close and organized our downtown team is.  We might look like one man shows when we meet with you.  Our team really works together constantly to make our locations and team perform awesome.  So far, so good!  We talk a lot, have a lot of fun and move FORWARD TOGETHER!


Peace and Grace,



JOY/joi/noun  1.a feeling of great pleasure and happiness

This morning I walk outside at 4am to see a large toad awaiting his buggy breakfast outside the garage door. My friendly dog greets him with a bit wet nose, and leaves him undisturbed. I find joy in that.


We head down the driveway into the morning twilight to enjoy the day.  As we start down the road, the invisible spider webs draped across the road stick to my face as a sign that we are the first people to pass down this stretch of God’s great land today. I find joy in that.  


The weather is cool and calm 50 something degrees and the oppressive tropical weather of the prior day is gone. This morning’s beautiful weather is another example that those tough moments quickly pass. I find joy in that.


The morning is silent, with the exception of many birds signing their morning tunes. More songs than one can count. Baby birds recently started to take flight and sit alongside their mother that spent weeks getting them to that point. I find joy in that.


The glowing sunrise is always a special moment to me. Represents a new day. A fresh start. Endless possibilities. And it oftentimes looks amazing on top of it. I find joy in that.


I enjoy watching the farm crops from week to week.  From tillage to seeding, the new growth. How they little seeds turn into huge plants. How quickly they grow. How they handle the weather.  The corn shoots up like crazy in this hot weather. I pray for the farmers who live off the land and have to simply hope for the best from mother nature. They do it for the love. It’s a passion. And so much inspiration can be taken from this. I find joy in that.


My dog is always along on these walks.So much could be said about a K9. A lab in this case. The seemingly endless smile. A tremendous amount of love. They live to serve us. They care. We all should strive to be more like the dog. Always forgiving. Always full of Energy. Always appears to be looking at the positives. Looking to add value to the lives of others.  I could go on about this. I find joy in that.


All of the things described above make the mornings a natural fit for some spiritual time and some words with God. At least some Thank-you’s and some thoughts for those that need it the most. I know we all come from different views on this subject. As for me, I find joy in this.  


Lastly, My walk each morning is done with a military surplus backpack from Fleet Farm on my back loaded with 35lbs (and increasing) in an effort to keep my back and legs in shape for the hunting season, and also as a reminder of the sacrifice made by many of our friends and neighbors in the armed forces to give us the independence we celebrate yet often take for granted. I’ve never been there, but I’ve read stories and books, and am forever grateful for those that made this sacrifice. My surplus backpack is labeled with “Glaser” written with a marker. I assume this is the last name of the soldier that once owned it. What was his/her story? I’ll never know, but it represents all the stories.   I find joy in this.


The above summarizes the way I find Joy, and put fuel in my tank. I realize this doesn’t work for everyone. Or maybe a similar experience is a short car ride away.  Whatever your joy looks like, find time for it. Someone recently shared with me the book called “Miracle Morning.” It is a short read. Although I have always had a similar routine in the morning, reading this book gave me the extra boost I needed to make these mornings more attainable and impactful. If you aren’t a morning person but you want to be, I suggest looking up this book.  Working closely with a group of friends with similar motivations is also beneficial. My wife thinks I’m nuts that I start getting text messages at 3:45 AM.


I also leave you with this challenge: For every seemingly negative moment or experience you face, require yourself to find a positive in the situation. And focus only on that. Sometimes seems crazy, but it’s truly the only way to live a positive lifestyle.  

Baby kept you up all night – Be thankful that you are blessed enough to be able to have a child.

The weather is sweltering and you work outside – be thankful that you get to be outside.

Flat tire on the way to work? Be thankful you get to learn how to change one!

Didn’t get the position you applied for? Be thankful you work for a growing company.

You got a summer cold? Be thankful you don’t have the flu. 🙂


Joy doesn’t come without some effort. But with some effort it can come easy. It is all around you. You just have to make the decision to find it.  

Sent to my Steve Herriges.  Incredibly inspirational.  Thank you Steve.

— Peace and Grace, Joel