VIEWPOINTS – The Representor, Spring 2021
by Chuck Tanzola, CPMR
The Fusion Sourcing Group Inc.
ERA Chairman of the Board
When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary to write an article, and you’re not exactly sure what to do, reach for something in plain sight.
On Sunday last, we celebrated the founding of our nation; and not coincidentally, as I began to consider this Representor column, a recent Monday Morning Inspiration from my good friend Bob Evans that arrived in my inbox read:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
This oft-quoted, and perhaps most memorable, phrase from the Declaration of Independence got me thinking. Typically, when we consider this foundational document of our nation, we rightly focus our attention on the conclusion — the declaring of independence from Great Britain by the colonies — but as I read it, I realized there are other lessons from within its contents that merit our attention as well.
In writing the Declaration, Thomas Jefferson leads with an explanation of why it was written and upon what beliefs it is based. In addition to the quote above, we find some interesting language in the first two paragraphs, such as, “… necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another …” and “ … a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” And “… Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes …”
While tempting to center on the words, “dissolve,” “separation” and “change,” note that each is not possible without having “connection” first. In fact, even in the midst of the duress he undoubtedly felt, Jefferson still declares some of the principles of connection – “decent respect” for others, seriousness of purpose (“… not … light and transient causes …”) and communication.
The Declaration then moves on to a list of 27 grievances and the attempts made to resolve those complaints. The specifics of the issues are not critical for the purpose of this discussion, but implicit in the itemized list of issues are declarations of expectations governing the relationship between the British Crown and the colonies. Despite the issues, he also identifies the need to maintain relationship and concern for the loyalists living in the colonies: “Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren.” And “In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms.” He closes the document proclaiming the action resulting from the inability to resolve them.
I wonder though if there would have been a Declaration of Independence if the colonists had felt a “decent respect” for their expectations of the governance relationship with Great Britain?
So, how are these observations from history relevant to our industry today? As I speak with representatives, manufacturers and distributors alike, many of the frustrations they express can be summed up in two categories: 1) unmet expectations or 2) a feeling of disrespect from others with whom there should be a relationship. The common denominator in each case — actions undertaken (or neglected) that betray a recognition of the healthy balance between self-interest and community concern, whether unintentionally or serendipitously.
Wikipedia notes that the manufacturers’ representative is an “independent sales representative.” Similarly, manufacturers and distributors set their own, individual courses in producing and delivering products to our industry. Yet, despite this, it is incumbent upon each member to understand that they are but one leg of the stool — legally independent but all functionally interdependent! We are fortunate to work in an industry that for the most part recognizes this, but is challenged at times to remember it when faced with the increasing pressures of daily activities. I hope this column in some small way helps remind us to rise up to those challenges.
At the end of August, we will gather (IN-PERSON) for the EDS Summit, where the industry will discuss expectations, foster relationships and the declaration of our interdependence will be on full display. I look forward to seeing you in Las Vegas and pursuing life, liberty and happiness together. As always, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and welcome your comments.
For reference, you can find the original text of the Declaration of Independence at https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript.