It’s always nice to know that little something about the person sitting across from you. And I’ve always believed that it’s far more interesting to learn about a person directly, even if it’s a snippet of a story, rather than from someone’s obituary.
We designed our new series, Meet the Wholesaler, for that reason. We want to give you a thumbnail sketch of wholesalers who we will question in future issues of Distribution Center magazine. If you have an interesting candidate, don’t hesitate to contact me.
In this inaugural profile, we’re introducing newly elected HARDI President Michael Meier.
Q: What do you wish you knew when you first started out in the HVACR business?
Michael Meier: I went to college to be an HVACR mechanic and turned wrenches for five years. Then I went into the family distribution business and had limited knowledge regarding the business side and had to learn from the ground up. So I would have to say the business side of the distribution model.
Q: What was your favorite college or high school course?
Michael Meier: Math was always at the top. Probably why I am a big fan of profit!
Q: Where do you see your company in 10 years? (Remember, I’ll be back in 10 years to see if you’re accurate.)
Michael Meier: Would like to see us at 100 percent employee stock ownership plan (currently at 65 percent) and on the leading edge of utilizing technology in every aspect of our business.
Q: What interest(s) do you have that very few people know about? Tell us something about it.
Michael Meier: I’ve been racing cycles (that would be pedal power) for the last 10 years. The training can be grueling pretty much most of the time and, in some cases, the only reward you end up with is staying upright on your bike after a race. The alternate to staying upright unfortunately happens.
Q: Is there a business leader (or someone from any discipline or profession) whom you admire and even try to emulate? Why?
Michael Meier: No one specific; however I’ve been fortunate enough to listen to many speakers/trainers during the years and learn something from each one of them. Plus, I get to hang around my brothers my entire life, who are extremely positive.
Q: What was the hardest decision — up to now — that you have had to make in the HVACR business? Tell us about it.
Michael Meier: With the family employee-owned culture we have at Meier Supply, we get to know our employees and their families, so any time you have to let someone go for performance-related reasons it’s never easy.
Q: What was the best business advice you ever got? Explain.
Michael Meier: Shut up and listen. Early in my distribution career, I was on the road selling and always wanted to let the customers know how much I knew about whatever the heck I was selling. Big mistake! It’s impossible to learn anything when I was doing all the talking. So the “shut up and listen” [lesson] was huge.
Q: What was the worst business advice you ever got?
Michael Meier: “You’ve got to have the lowest price or you won’t get the order.” Price would come up early in my career, and if you believe you have to have the lowest price, then you will definitely be selling yourself short. You have to believe in yourself, your products and the company that stands behind you.
Q: What’s your favorite vacation spot? Why?
Michael Meier: Aruba. Holly and I spent some time there five years ago. The beaches were pristine, people were very friendly and it was a pretty quiet place to take some time off. Would love to go back.
Q: If you lost your job tomorrow, what kind of job would you look for?
Michael Meier: I would like a job like Tom Perić’s [Editor of Distribution Center magazine]. He seems to have way too much fun.