By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
D&H Distributing celebrates its 90th anniversary in 2008.
D&H was founded as a tire-retreading business in 1918 by David Schwab but it changed over time to adopts its current CE and computer products platform as technology evolved.
The distributor remained regional over much of its lifetime but was transformed into a national model in the late 1980s and early 1990s by then executive team Izzy Schwab, Gary Brothers and Jeff Davis who now respectively serve as CEO, president and sales VP.
"We're in the same business we were 90 years ago," said Izzy Schwab, who celebrated his own 50th anniversary with the company last year. "The industry is changing at a faster pace every day, but distribution is still about having the right personal relationships, the right product, the right service level and the right price. And getting it all to the right place at the right time. That has earned nine decades of success, for us and our dedicated employee owners."
Marketing VP Dan Schwab attributed the company's success and longevity to its single-minded focus on the customer, its ability to pioneer emerging technologies and the strength and consistency of its management team. "Our culture is unique," he said. "We have been able to scale the company to nearly $2 billion in sales but still have the mentality of a little guy. The customer remains the center of our universe, and we always try to take the leadership role in introducing new, disruptive technologies, rather than focus on commodities. The vendors look to us to help pioneer new markets, and our customers see us as trusted advisors and consultants rather than sales reps."
Steady, conservative planning for the long term, and a strategy of growing organically rather than through acquisition, has helped the company weather wars, the Great Depression and other marketplace upheavals. Indeed, D&H has never lost money in its 90-year history, Schwab said, and most recently has delivered eight consecutive years of record growth and profits — which it shares with its employees through a stock-ownership plan.
"Most distributors fulfill demand that vendors create," Schwab said. "D&H finds underserved vendors and creates demand."
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