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132: Exploring New Business Development at Nationwide Marketing Group

Written by Rob Stott

August 16, 2022

What does the new business development process look like for Nationwide Marketing Group? To find the answer we turn to Nationwide’s Vice President of Business Development Derek Mattila — the guy behind countless new partnerships the group has formed over the past few years, and the launch of the home improvement category.


 

Rob Stott: We are back on the Independent Thinking podcast and a long overdue podcast. I think the last time you and I sat down on camera or in front of some microphones, I was not with Nationwide Marketing Group. So my apologies, first of all, Mr. Derek Mattila, our VP of Business Development here at Nationwide Marketing Group. But two and a half years in, thanks for waiting so long. This episode will have aged like fine wine by the time we actually get through recording this. Isn’t that how it goes?

Derek Mattila: Yeah, it’s all good, buddy. I completely understand. And that’s a good indication and a good testament to, not only the good content that the rest of Nationwide is bringing to the podcast, but your ability to bring out some great podcasts in the first place. So I appreciate you thinking about me and hope you appreciate the conversation.

Rob Stott: Hey, the last time I think it was… I don’t know how we can top doing one from the tiny home. I mean, you and I were propped up on a couch inside the tiny home, the last time we sat down for a podcast and that was my peak of doing podcasts. So I’m pretty sure that’s why I didn’t want to try to think about recreating that. So here we are now sitting on Zoom doing it this way, but we’ll still have some fun.

Derek Mattila: That’s good. I fondly remember that podcast we did in that tiny home. That was a fun time and I think we’ll see that thing rolling and moving around the country again this year, at CEDIA Expo in a few weeks and more. It’s good to see that has been put back on the road and is helping Nationwide members, demonstrating and drawing crowds.

Rob Stott: I know some updates were being made to it, and I know I didn’t get out to see it, unfortunately, but it was in my neck of the woods at Mrs. G’s up in New Jersey here just like 25 minutes from me. I wasn’t able to get over to it, but saw posted on social, was in their parking lot and they were having some fun with us. So absolutely that thing. It’ll be nice to see it back on the road and CEDIA here. I think it’s going to be a big part of the booth while we’re down there in Dallas. So excited to see it, make the trip down there and maybe I’ll try to do another podcast with someone from there.

If you’re there, maybe that’s where we’ll do it. We’ll go back to our roots and do another podcast from the tiny home.

Derek Mattila: I think that’d be awesome. I’d be glad to, and I think that’d be some good memories to bring them back.

Rob Stott: Heck yeah. All right. Well, let’s dive into you and everything you because you’ve been, I mean, talk about the stories I’ve been able to tell. You’ve been busy yourself since I’ve been part of the Nationwide team and we got a lot to catch up on, but I want to start with you and tell us a little bit for the audience that doesn’t know Derek Mattila, tell us about yourself and your background and path to NMG. We’ll start there.

Yeah, I appreciate it. So Derek Mattila, I’m vice president of business development and it’s been a really cool long career here at Nationwide. I started back in 2015 as our director of merchandising on the appliance team. So on the merchandising team and spent a number of years working in the appliance business.

But prior to that, I was very fortunate to have bounced around a little bit. I always joked I worked for my mother and my family business in Denver, Colorado, actually at Golden, Colorado until I couldn’t afford to work for free anymore and got a chance to work for a bunch of good companies, both in the consumer electronics, the high-end customization CI space with Ultimate Electronics and then got a chance to do some eCommerce and some national scale retailing running large business units with Circuit City and QVC before landing and coming here at Nationwide.

It’s been great because I really appreciate, and I have an enormous passion through that journey of the role of the independent space and how the independent business helps the communities and how our independent businesses help core industries grow and we’ve done a lot of work and try really hard to help that with the Nationwide members and been fortunate to work on some cool projects and I’m hoping to do that more with other businesses also.

Rob Stott: Yeah, absolutely. Anything from the past experiences in your role with business development that you lean on, that you can take from your work in previous stops, that really applies to what you’re doing right now.

Derek Mattila: Yeah. It’s funny you bring that up. I was having this conversation the other day with someone about data and analytics and the use of data to help create sound business plans, not just business decisions, but business plans. And I find myself leaning into, and it’s consistent across these new businesses and new groups that we speak with that the independent space is always starved for good connected data.

And one of the things that I continually lean myself into is that I spent a lot of time at both my national stops at Circuit and QVC helping patch together data sets to help build business plans together and I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was a skill that was becoming really important as I came to Nationwide and it’s something that I continually lean into when talking with other businesses outside of the Nationwide family.

Rob Stott: That’s awesome to hear. And we hear the buzzword of the century, I think, so just data and big data and all that entails. So cool to see that it still does apply. I mean, if anything, it applies more so today than probably even realize why you’re in those roles previously, but awesome to see it get the attention it deserves here, but it’s kind of narrowing in on what you’re doing right now, new business development. It kind of sounds like anyone that’s thinking about it, go out, explore finds a self-explanatory, but I know we take a pretty awesome approach to it. So I want to let you kind of dive into that from the NMG perspective. What does that entail when you talk about business development here for the independent channel?

Derek Mattila: Well, we’re very fortunate to have a very clear purpose at Nationwide and I really do believe in and fully subscribe to helping our independent dealers thrive on their own terms and it sounds really simple and it sounds really cliche and kind of corporate when you think about it, but when you start getting to executing on helping and enabling independent dealers thrive on their own terms, it takes on a lot of flavors and takes on a lot of paths. And it really is a personal goal and passion for me to be able to identify something that goes from a starter kit to a Master’s program in business service or program offering to the Nationwide members that we can use and build to help enable the Nationwide members to grow and succeed on a level that is on their terms.

And it’s great because part of what we get to do in new business development is look at new business services and look at new programs and vendor service offerings and bring either programs that need to be, or should be a service and help to the Nationwide members and also evaluate the services that we have today that may be helpful to other businesses or other buying groups that are in other industries that don’t have the same resources or the same level of scale that Nationwide has.

And it’s great because they get a chance to match those up and put them together to help not only the Nationwide members, but also build partnerships outside of the group that helps build more competency and scale for the Nationwide members. So it’s really cool.

Rob Stott: The interesting thing that there’s two ways to go with this. I want to start, you talk about obviously people think about the programs and offerings of Nationwide when you’re a retailer looking at it, you got obviously there’s the business and financial services side, and then there’s the product side.

The cool thing is you kind of get to walk all of those lines and the work you’re doing and find things, whether it’s partnerships or programs or just initiatives to build that go across the whole business as opposed to not to limit their jobs, and don’t take it this way, Mr. Rose or Derro or McDonald, but not limiting to one vertical or something like that. You kind of get to play in everything.

Derek Mattila: Yeah. And that’s great. And that’s part of the important handoffs in evaluating whether or not the business or the new service is going to help a specific category or does it help the entire ecosystem of dealers. And then one step beyond that becomes its Nationwide members. If it’s good for Nationwide from 101 to Master’s degree, then could that be something that’s valuable to other business groups and other partnerships outside of the network and could maybe be able to help leverage and create more scale and capability and help the Nationwide members by expanding it to other non-competitive group businesses.

Rob Stott: I’m curious, we’ll dive back into that in a minute because I know you’ve been doing a lot of work with specifically some other groups and things, but you kind of think of it, you’re walking a really interesting line where you’re looking at what we’re doing right now and I almost think of it that famous Wayne Gretzky quote about you got to look to where the puck’s going, as opposed to where it actually is. And you’re kind of walking an interesting line between where we are as a business and where we could be and what members could be doing. So talk about that and what it’s like to operate in both the here and now, but also the future in terms of what independent retail could look like.

Derek Mattila: Yeah. You’re touching on a really key point, right, because it’s great to be able to speak and talk with a bunch of other businesses outside of the Nationwide group to help get ideas and generate ideas that I can bring back to the group and that will help the Nationwide members but one of the things in our strategy in trying to focus and enable the businesses and the independent businesses around the home to succeed, I’ve had a benefit of talking with a lot of different groups and a lot of the same challenges that they have are the same challenges that we have and our Nationwide members have.

Labor’s been an all time, big time challenge and doesn’t look like that’s going to resolve itself in the near future, but continually be, it’s important to hire, retain, and train the best employees. And as that starts to become more difficult and more and more difficult in the future, how do you use your scale to consolidate that to benefit similar groups and same with data and analytics, same with digital and operations and execution.

So, to the idea of that there’s from a consumer’s perspective also, a need to reduce the number of people that they’re contacting. That there’s contact fatigue that’s going on, that we think that building in a good referral program and good partnership and good connection of complementary businesses around the home helps us build up capabilities around and scale around solving some of these big challenges that are consistent against all the groups that are out there in the industry and servicing the independent channel and believe it or not, there’s a lot of independent businesses that don’t even have buying groups that are complementary businesses to Nationwide’s core businesses of appliances and consumer electronics and furniture embedding and outdoor and connected services.

And as we try to find opportunities for every one of them, we speak to those businesses and say, is there a way for us to help grow each other’s business collectively.

Rob Stott: And we’re going to get into those in a second, but I do want to ask before we dive into some of the specific work that you’ve been doing, give you a chance to talk a little bit to the work of how you go about it? If an opportunity gets identified, is there a way that you go about internally processing, whether it makes sense or something like that, or if it’s worth pursuing for the group?

Derek Mattila: Yeah, there definitely is because our objective and as we try to fulfill our purpose of enabling the entrepreneurs to thrive on our own terms and all the different facets that can take, one of the big things that I try to identify is do we have an unmet need by our members to focus in on?

So, do we have a collection of members that say, “Well, I need help with this.” That starts the process of evaluating the opportunities that are designed for specifically the Nationwide members. And then is there within the opportunities, the opportunity to expand that, not only from the Nationwide member perspective, but to other business units that maybe need the same kind of support to fulfill that unmet need from their members. And each one of them has, each business service and each relationship and each partnership has a different flavor to it, and I really try to focus really hard on whether or not we’re servicing and helping enable our Nationwide members to fix something or utilize something that they’re having a hard time doing on their own. And it works both ways, not only with the Nationwide members, but also helping with our supplier and vendor and branding communities because they have the same challenges of executing through the large number of independent retailers and they ask for help and need help consistently also.

So, if there’s a win for the Nationwide members, there’s a win for the supplier community and vendor community within the network, that then immediately rises up to the top of the list. And the ideas for me is that maybe the different part from the business units of appliances and consumer electronics and furniture embedding is that those business services help that particular group. I’m hoping that I can help not only our group, but a group outside of the Nationwide walls and other businesses that can help bring services together.

Rob Stott: And that’s kind of the fun part, because that’s just the bread and butter of what a buying group’s supposed to do. You’ve got obviously the business units, they’re working in the categories and staying on top of the trends in those spaces and whether it’s the product categories like you mentioned, or the business service side of things, but to be able to give these dealers that are so able to adapt and evolve and have been proven to over time, it shows that the group is as well, adapting and evolving to new needs that rise, unmet needs that can be fulfilled by different, whether it’s partnerships or however those things come about, but it’s kind of the essence of what a buying group is, sits in your seat with business development.

Derek Mattila: That’s right. And that’s great because we hear this term a lot, scale matters. Scale really matters and the reason why the nationals get a nod in either product allocation or the reason they get a nod in service allocation, or they get a nod in execution is because they’re leveraging their scale to better execute their plan. And everything that we do should be from data to planning, to strategy, to servicing the independent dealer to thrive on their terms, should be to leverage the scale to better compete against what the national competitors are.

And the great thing about what we do is that it’s applicable and it works across so many other businesses that as we’ve been talking with other buying groups and talking with other partners that we’re trying to learn from, but also partner with, there’s a need across every and across all verticals and the list is long and you start to think of all the independent businesses that are run out there in each local community and there’s generally a buying group or some sort of organization that’s trying to help do what we are trying to do for our Nationwide members and it makes it fun to try to connect these groups core strengths together, to help build that scale and that consistent execution.

Rob Stott: And I was going to say, it kind of brings our conversation full circle in that scale, really, that’s another way it’s a synonym for data. Having the scale means having the amount of data to be able to dig into those insights and not only see internally the things that are happening and the opportunities that exist, but also externally when you go to those partners and you need the scale or data to be able to say, “Hey, this is what we’re seeing and we think either you can help or we can be of help to you,” and go out and really form those partnerships.

Derek Mattila: That’s right. That’s exactly right. And that’s where it’s a really great handoff and a kind of a good segue to round the other categories in the home is that our Nationwide members have done a great job of helping serve their businesses and their markets and their communities and their core categories.

But now products are connecting so frequently together that the independent Nationwide members are being asked to touch other categories or get involved with other categories that they had never considered in the past and that connected home fabric of, and that network of the home, is becoming more and more and continues to be complicated from the consumer’s perspective, which is creating great opportunities for independent dealers to help solve those challenges.

And as we look down the road and look to the future of connected products, it’s not just connected products, but it’s really the connected entire home and we think of it through technology. It’s not through technology, it’s the connected home of roofing, siding, windows and everything that goes into a home that consumers are looking for help for and are looking for somebody locally that can do a great job of providing good experience, good service and that’s where all these partnerships coming in really start to blossom, is how do we bring those to the Nationwide members as a potential offer?

Rob Stott: And now we get to the fun stuff. My hands are ready to go. We’re digging in because this is where we get to talk about the things that, we’ve kind of been talking from the 50,000 foot level up here of how you go about thinking about things and the way you sort of operate and all of that, but now digging into the meat of it.

You talk about the two and a half years, or almost three years that I’ve been here and the things that you’ve been doing and the partnerships that we’ve been able to announce. Things like Azione. I know we’ve got Do It Best is coming to PrimeTime and there’s some other things going on. You talk about the home improvement side of things. So, talk about what it’s seeing those kinds of partnerships that really, they start in your seat in your department and in new business development and just watching them blossom. What’s it like seeing all those things come to fruition and this vision, if you will, come to life.

Derek Mattila: Yeah, it’s great because you have a lot of discussions and meet with a lot of brilliant minds and people that are in this industry and people that we’ve been fortunate enough to talk with about what is it that we can do to help the Nationwide members succeed and bringing in new partnerships and new alliances really sometimes starts off of as there’s a little bit of question as to how do we make those handouts work and how do we make that business help support each other.

And it is so great to see when our business services and our training and our data and our marketing and all of the different value add services that we make available to the Nationwide members start to penetrate and start to become important to those new partnerships. And you mentioned Azione for example, they’re an incredible group of hardworking, independent businesses doing great, incredible custom integration work within each market.

And now building connection and building referral within luxury appliance spaces and helping create a team of members that are working together to help service the customers’ needs in their markets is really, really, really cool. And that’s what it’s about. And if you think of the origins of buying groups or buying groups is the kind of start and getting together to help start buy better and sell smarter and compete tougher within a buying group space. This is the new age and the new business services and the new connection and network services that we provide is doing exactly that. And it’s pretty cool. It’s a lot of fun to watch it come to fruition, because as you mentioned, it started years ago, this has been years in the making and then having it come to fruition with some good services and members is really cool and there’s more to come.

And as you start thinking through the list of different categories that members may or may not want to be involved in and it’s okay, it’s going to work for some forever, but well for all, but it was going to create opportunities for both the partnerships and the new groups that become affiliated and aligned with Nationwide. But it’s going to create even more opportunities to sell connected and complimentary product categories for the Nationwide members around the home.

And you’ll start to see more product categories becoming available, home improvement division, which we’re going to launch here and bring to the Nationwide members has been in the process for many years and has been work, we’re working on it to try to help compliment and create supplemental business categories and for categories they’re already in, which is… It’s funny, I think about this, the number of appliance dealers that we have that are showing products in kitchen environments, but not selling or made available the cabinets, the countertops, the plumbing, the hardware, and these are all good margin product sales opportunities for those customers and we hope that some of these new home improvement categories will help compliment the Nationwide member assortments.

Rob Stott: It’s awesome because now we have lots of partnerships that you’ve been involved in helping get off the ground, but this division, the home improvement side of things is kind of a cool one because we get to dive into a specific example of the start to where it is now and the future.

Talk about the conversations, how they get started. You mentioned talking to members and having that initial ideation of what’s possible. You don’t have to go back to the specific time and place, but what was it like as you start thinking about maybe this is a possibility and how did it steam ball or snowball from there into what it is today.

Derek Mattila: This is the benefit of being positively connected with and discussing business with other groups, right? Because their ideas and idea sharing that happens related to how do we service our customers or members the best way. And we’ve spent a lot of time at KBIS and other conferences and shows floating out the idea that hey maybe this supplier is an important supplier to the Nationwide members and that supplier and I’ll use one, actually I’ll use one that started, actually that really started the thought process for me back maybe this is probably in 2017, actually. Pallazani is a brand and a supporter and a business for Nationwide members. Decorative, high end Italian plumbing for kitchen and bath, right? They’ve gotten beautiful product.

Rob Stott: Expect nothing less. Paisano, expect nothing less.

Derek Mattila: Exactly. It’s funny. The story’s actually kind of interesting because the gentleman, we were preparing for a board meeting that was at the Nationwide office and this was back at the old office before we moved downtown into the new building. And we got a ring on the doorbell, the front door saying, “Hey, I want to talk to somebody about new business opportunities.” Literally somebody walked to the front door, which isn’t typical, by the way, in fact of the seven years that I’ve been with Nationwide, that’s the only time it’s happened.

Rob Stott: Wow.

Derek Mattila: So, Manny who runs that business, you see him at PrimeTime, he comes to the door and I’m like, really, it was really bad timing. I said, “Hey buddy, I’ll call you because I can’t believe you’ve done this. This is great. This is fantastic. But let me give you a call back after our board meeting.” So, we connected, and he started talking a little bit about some of these complimentary categories that would help make sense and started pointing out, he’d run a business, he’d run a family business and had been members of buying groups and that he thought he could make some headway and helping offer a margin rich product offer into the Nationwide member.

Well, we brought them to PrimeTime very quickly, and I spent some time going to KBIS and working through the different categories, trying to find it. But what became really, really obvious and clear was that you just can’t bring in one supplier to be in the category. And then as we were talking through what it takes to be part of, to offer these kind of services and they’re really make them as a full category solution and not have it just be only decorative plumbing, but cabinetry countertops, it started to grow and started to grow from that.

I think it’s funny because Manny may never, I told him this and he sparked a little bit of an interest in me because of how we got started and how we got introduced and I’ve spent some time with him. He’s a fantastic individual and knows this business really well and as then we walk through the halls of KBIS and walk through the different partnership discussions, started to realize that this could probably happen and be a good thing for Nationwide members and then extend again, back outside the walls of Nationwide with other partnerships.

Rob Stott: Heck yeah. Well, so there you heard it here, the way to get in with Nationwide and have us launch a new business is to just pop by the office, knock on the door and say hello to and find Derek Mattila.

Derek Mattila: That’s right.

Rob Stott: That is awesome, man. Cool. Really cool story. Just again, to see how it’s grown from then to, I know it’s going to continue to grow and you’ve got a lot of things going on and work happening so I know it’s a busy time of year right now, especially just days away from PrimeTime getting kicked off here so I appreciate, you taking the time and hopping on the podcast and chatting with us a little bit, peeling the layers back on new business development here at Nationwide and letting us see how it’s done. So, I appreciate it, man. This was a lot of fun.

Derek Mattila: Rob, great job. You do an incredible job with these podcasts and it’s awesome to see it continue to go and the passion behind it and anytime buddy, anytime I’m a yo text away.

Rob Stott: Awesome, though, thank you. And we won’t wait another two and a half years. I promise.

Derek Mattila: Sounds good, buddy.

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