Chairman’s Message: Building and Strengthening Relationships

Posted by Chris Means on 2/1/23 10:37 AM

Chris Means-1

In recent months, I’ve shared my thoughts on how to go from bad to good or good to great, and about passion. The underlying energy that allows us to change for the better, or to feel passionate about our work, is a foundation for creating and maintaining strong bonds within our family, our faith, and most certainly, our careers.

I’ve been blessed to have a family environment that fostered a love for others and a love for the things that drive us to excel. I was one of six kids (a Brady Bunch family of 3 boys and 3 girls – another reference to my age!). As children, we fought and picked at each other much like any siblings would do, but we also got along very well. To this day, we all still try to get together every year, which is challenging as we are spread across the country.

But how does a strong family relationship translate to a successful career? First, relationships develop an understanding of the needs of others, which foster a sense of empathy. Having the ability to truly “get” the person across the negotiating table from you allows an approach that leads to mutual wins when the deals are done. Second, building a relationship with your peers can, and usually does, lead to long-term growth in the partnership. Human nature tends toward wanting to go the extra mile for the people we care for. How many times have you heard a vendor admit that a bigger competitor was ignored because they are not pleasant to deal with? I remember going from, at the time, the biggest and first truly national distributor in the shooting sports industry to a very small distributor. When my negotiating pencil had been ground down to a nub, I found out what relationships really meant in trying to compete and win!

Strengthening relationships within your own organization can go a long way to build employee retention, something we see little of in this era of job hopping every couple years. Think of the costs expended every time you lose any employee, from a warehouse picker to one of your top-level managers! Not to mention the time it takes to grow corporate culture! We’ve all seen examples of how the biggest companies in our industry suffered, after gutting the long-term employees that bled the company colors, and their replacements didn’t understand their customers. They were blinded by shareholder interest over the ultimate customer relationship.

What’s the moral of the story? Take a look in the corporate mirror and see if the reflection is a person that places a high value on relationships over a one-and-done philosophy to negotiations. You can win a thousand more close battles and have a much healthier outlook on life, which in turn continues to build new relationships that continue the positive cycle of healthy growth.

I will continue to grow my network of valued friends and business associates long after my career has sunset. If you are reading this and know me, you’ll know that you’ll always be a valuable part of my life. I’m grateful for the relationship we have, and I look forward to the new relationships that have yet to be built.

Until next time,


Chris Means

NASGW Chairman

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