Wholesale & Distribution International - Winter 2018 - 39
"When we look at what we do, we have
a cultural belief that you have to work
harder, be honest and forthright, and
have to care about other people," Partner John Frey Jr. says. "We don't have
egos. We win or lose as a team doing it
the right way."
And while there will always be issues
that come up with suppliers or customers, Todd Gaede notes how critical the
company's performance has been in handling challenges. "In sales there are always going to be problems," Gaede says.
"But customers will always remember
how you handled the problem, so it's critical to develop problem-solving skills."
Frey Gaede hosts an annual golf tournament to raise
money for City of Hope, which funds cancer research.
Partner Jim Gaede says one of the
strengths of Frey Gaede has been its ability to adapt to paradigm shifts in the industry throughout its history. The first of
those took place in the mid 1970s with the
advent of buying groups. Similar to cooperatives, buying groups cropped up when
companies decided to pool their purchasing resources, committing to quantities
of products and driving down costs.
"For maybe the first 30 years, we would
deal with manufacturers and dealers,"
Gaede recalls. "But then buying groups
came along, we started working with
dealers who were a part of a buying group
entity. It has worked well for the individual dealers and our group."
The second large change in the industry took place in the 1980s with the
launch of huge superstores such as Staples and Oﬃce Depot. "Ultimately, we
formed relationships with their commercial sales force which controls more than
half of their business," Gaede says. "And
because of those relationships we were
able to serve large consumers."
The ability to adapt and adjust to those
two revolutions explains how Frey Gaede
was able to survive other sea changes,
such as the expansion of e-commerce.
Traditionally, Frey Gaede has responded
to such challenges by educating and serving as advisors to dealers and consumers.
"A big part of our success has been our
ability to educate distributors," Frey says.
"By educating them and forming a relationship, we can continue to promote
Of course, the field representatives
working for Frey Gaede also have to
keep up with industry trends in an eﬀort
to constantly educate their customers.
To that end, Frey Gaede recently hired a
director of marketing. "One of our real
strengths has been our overall knowledge
regarding products in the industry," Frey
says. "Our motto is 'Trusted Solutions for
the Workplace,' so it isn't always just the
One of Frey Gaede's first contracts was with
Banker's Box, a manufacturer of storage boxes.
As the industry has evolved and many
manufacturing lines have consolidated,
many manufacturer's representatives
have been swallowed up by larger companies with more resources. Frey Gaede
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