UnleashWD: I’m Not the Company President: How A Frontline Manager Is Helping His Team Pivot and Stay Focused in This Rapidly Changing Environment

BY Emily Saving
3/26/2020 - COVID-19

In an effort to continue to try and provide our members with resources that are easy to consume, and relevant to their own businesses, we are taking some information that has been developed and trying to “pare it down” as much as possible so you can easily find the identified portions that are most beneficial.

One resource that has been created in the wake of the COVID-19 virus is a video series developed by Dirk Beveridge from UnleashWD. In this particular video, “I’m Not the Company President: How A Frontline Manager Is Helping His Team Pivot and Stay Focused in This Rapidly Changing Environment,” Dirk interviews Keith Northey, Western Regional Manager of HARDI member APR Supply.  

We have taken some time to pull some of the highlights and identify some important items that were covered, and then time stamp the video for easy access to everything that was covered in the video.


Keith’s story started about a week into the nation-wide COVID-19 panic with his upload of an impassioned LinkedIn video. Keith had a rough day, with lots of changes coming from the Pennsylvania government, and Keith was tired. He needed to process. So, he turned on his phone, and recorded. After pausing to think, he decided to post the video to LinkedIn to help others in their thought processes.

While not the company President, Keith’s five branches employ 27 individuals, which means 27 families who depend on him. Employees were coming to him with had questions like, what if I can’t work and can’t get paid? How will I feed my family?  Keith’s first instinct was to console his worried employees.

Keith also realized many others shared his concerns, but few were voicing them:

  • Voiced the concerns of his employees up the chain at his company.
  • Pushed for more communication and information to flow down the chain.
  • Promised his employees transparency and asked for the same in return.

As a manager of sales employees who suddenly found themselves home-bound, Keith wanted to make sure that his teams held onto hope. He offered a few tactics to help them continue to look forward and alleviate stress.

  • Moved daily check in from phone to video meetings, to help meet team’s social needs.
  • Required one personal development activity a day, to keep team sharp and ready. (Dirk suggests that confidence and security comes from one’s own skills; this is the best strategy for long term security.)

Keith’s optimism and hope really rings through as he boasts about the skill level of his APR team, and offers this advice, “be the manager your team needs.”  Congratulations to Keith on his courage and leadership during this unprecedented time. Thanks for sharing your story!

Video Timestamps:

5:01 – What’s the impetus for this interview? 

8:33 – How are you supporting your employees?  

11:40 – How did you shape you company’ response through upward leadership?

13:20 – What tactics are you using to keep your team sharp and ready?   

21:48 – Could you have envisioned this happening in your management career?

About UnleasedWD's video series

At UnleashWD our purpose is to unleash the human spirit.  And during this unprecedented time we felt compelled to support the UnleashWD tribe and our association partners with the right mix of inspiration and timely, relevant information.  We reached out to our network of wickedly smart subject matter experts to provide the sessions below.  In the words of one attendee - “This was amazing.  You’ve changed our day tomorrow.  We’ll be on the attack!”

We are a design, innovation, and strategy firm who transforms legacy distributors into nimble and innovative market leaders.  What you are about to experience is designed to unleash your spirit so like the individual above decided, you too will be on the attack!

We are here to support you through these next few months and beyond.  If we can do anything for you please reach out directly to either of us.

Dirk Beveridge                      Bethany Hepler
Founder                                VP of Design
dirk@unleashwd.com           bethany@unleashwd.com