Kevin Johnson is CEO of large, Chicago-based independent dealer Warehouse Direct, a position he has held since 2004.
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2021: Over the past 20 months, the company has focused on integrating the MRO/Industrial/Safety acquisition – an INCOM dealer – that it made in late 2019. In addition to PPE, the business now sees its customer base considering all aspects of safety in their workplaces, says Johnson, which is driving strong MRO demand. He further believes that several categories – including MRO and jan/san – are now increasingly being banded together under the ‘Facility Supply’ banner, making it ever more important to offer the full package to customers.
Another segment Warehouse Direct is already very strong in, but where it has put added emphasis recently, is the school interiors category.
Overall as a company, Johnson refers to substantial increases in efficiency as a by-product of the coronavirus pandemic. “We’ve we had a remarkable number of associates step up to improve Warehouse Direct – it was like realising a decade of improvements in 18 months. We also experienced a very significant increase in average sales and margin per order that we maintain today.”
2019: Kevin Johnson is CEO of Warehouse Direct. He is also a board member of the newly-formed Independent Suppliers Group (ISG) and ISG’s separate Pinnacle programme. Additionally, he is a member of Afflink’s dealer advisory board.
The past 12 months have been another record year for Warehouse Direct. The company now has an expanding micro market division and has made acquisitions in categories including facility machines & repair, copiers, furniture and core OP. Johnson has over the past year delivered interesting and thought-provoking presentations on the dealer’s “adjacency growth model” at a number of OPI forums in Chicago and Berlin.
2018: Large independent US dealer Warehouse Direct has been making considerable progress in areas away from the more traditional OP categories. These include servicing facilities machines including warewash & laundry, managed IT Services to SMB customers, and MPS with equipment partners such as Ricoh, Kyocera, Samsung and HP.
According to CEO Kevin Johnson, custom packaging, promotional products, LED lighting and contract & school furniture design/installation are other burgeoning sectors where many interesting developments are occurring at the moment.
2017: This year is expected to set new records for Warehouse Direct, Illinois-based independent reseller and founding member of large dealer network Pinnacle Affiliates. CEO Kevin Johnson says that the past 12 months have seen the company make a number of acquisitions in areas such as office interiors, school furniture, cleaning and maintenance machines. He’s also added dozens of new sales professionals to the dealer’s workforce.
Warehouse Direct has organised its supply chain and workplace productivity expertise into separate Supplies, Equipment, Interiors and Services offerings. Its Services revenue now represents a large and growing portion of the overall business while category penetration is at an all-time high.
2016: Kevin Johnson has been successfully overseeing Warehouse Direct’s evolution into a full-service workplace supplies and solutions provider as its CEO since 2012 – although he has been with the Illinois-based reseller since 2004.
The breadth and depth of Warehouse Direct’s workplace offering is virtually unrivalled in North America, and the company has enjoyed 25 years of consecutive sales growth. Keeping on the cusp of the digital transformation, Warehouse Direct introduced a mobile purchasing app this year.
Also in 2016, Johnson joined the advisory board of jan/san and supply chain solutions group Afflink following a partnership agreement with Pinnacle Affiliates, the group for large dealers of which Warehouse Direct is a founder member.
2015: The growth of Warehouse Direct doesn’t stop – 2014 saw its 25th consecutive record sales year and CEO Kevin Johnson is expecting this year to be another record.
Johnson says that while the focus is on expanding the differentiation it has across product, equipment and services categories – such as MRO, jan/san, MPS, breakroom and safety – Warehouse Direct has gone well beyond supplies into adjacent categories to offer a broad supply chain solution to its customers.
This value-add, says Johnson, strengthens relationships and helps grow its commodities volume.