AD announced on Feb. 17 the launch of the Center for Independent Distributor Leadership, a development program designed to prepare the current and future leaders of independent distribution with the competencies and experiences to build long-term, sustainable success for their companies.

“We listened to our owner/member community and found that many can benefit from organized training programs to prepare the next generation to lead,” said Marty McLaughlin, Chief Marketing Officer for AD and co-founder of the CIDL. “The CIDL will give AD members structured education pathways in leadership, sales and operations for up-and-coming leaders to gain core competencies for their future.”

The CIDL will complement and build on existing education offerings from trade associations. The new education initiative features three leadership certification pathways: Leadership Experience, Distributor Sales Leader and Distributor Operations Leader.

  • Leadership Experience is a four-year certification program designed for rising and next-generation managers who will lead AD member companies into the future. The certification brings together cohorts of 25 to 30 leaders to build upon the success of independent distributors and ensure the sustainability of the independent business model.
  • The Distributor Sales Leader program provides sales professionals with a long-term development track, including courses and interactive workshops, to learn sales strategies ready for immediate field application. The certification program elevates sales teams to better sustain top-line revenue and increase sales growth in highly competitive markets.
  • The Distributor Operations Leader program helps operations leaders learn and implement best practices that optimize profitability and performance of independent distributors. The certification program provides leaders with the road map, tools and network to drive sustainability and growth among their companies.

AD created each program’s curriculum in collaboration with instructors from top universities, like Texas A&M University, leadership coaches and independent distribution thought leaders. This group of industry experts will teach courses within the three CIDL certification pathways.

“We have amassed the preeminent experts in distribution to help independent distributors work on their business and further develop the talent that leads their growth,” said Brandon Hagen, Vice President of AD Member Education and co-founder of the CIDL. “These are great opportunities for companies to invest in their people and take active steps to shape their next chapter.”

In addition, the CIDL offers the Distribution Manager Development Program in conjunction with Texas A&M University’s Industrial Distribution Program. This offering delivers an introduction into the financial, operational and sales disciplines for emerging managers.

“AD stands with independents, and the future of independents within each of our industries will depend in great measure on how well we support and develop the great people who lead and work within them,” said AD Chairman and CEO Bill Weisberg.

Courses in the Distributor Operations Leader program and Distribution Manager Development Program are now open for registration. Additional program dates will become available on a rolling basis this year. AD owner/members can learn more about the programs at