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Our 5th Annual DCKAP Summit in L.A. – Leading the Distribution Industry

Catherine Sulskis
November 3, 2022 |

It was an honor and a privilege to have everyone gather in person at the DCKAP Summit 2022 event that was held in downtown Los Angeles, California on October 28th at the Sheraton Grand Hotel. This was the fifth iteration of our event, and this year it embodied the central theme of growth, talent, and competition which are all hot topics currently in the industry.

DCKAP Summit in LA

With DCKAP’s dedication to helping distributors find the best solutions in the quickly evolving distribution industry, our event came to life in the form of some amazing presentations and conversations that are sure to be invaluable to those seeking growth, looking to obtain new talent, and learning how to best outrun their competition. We’re proud to have built and executed an event specifically for distribution, centered on B2B eCommerce, catering to the growing needs in this space in order to help distributors reach their digital goals.

Driving Innovation in the Distribution Industry

It’s not an easy task to drive innovation in a burgeoning space, but we never shy away from a challenge. In fact, it only inspires our team to work even harder and strive even higher to exceed expectations. As a company that defines itself by the community we have built around us, hosting this event is a natural extension of our ecosystem of partners, clients and the industry experts we team up with.

There are so many people to thank, including all of our amazing speakers who presented their invaluable advice, shared some exclusive insights, and showcased key solutions for change, as well as our great panel of experts who combined their knowledge to further the discussion, for how distributors can succeed on their digital transformation journey.

A very big and heartfelt “Thank you!” to our amazing partners and sponsors for their support of the event – BigCommerce, Klevu, Avalara, Content4Commerce, and Dotdigital.

Here is a summary of our amazing day in L.A. –

Once everyone finished enjoying a delicious breakfast, with plenty of coffee to start our morning, we kicked things off with a quick crowd warm-up and introduction from DCKAP’s own Justin Zaza, Integration Consultant. He did a wonderful job as our MC for the day and began by explaining some of the history of our company and summarizing the full day to come.

DCKAP Summit - Leading the Distribution Industry
Justin Zaza

First on stage to welcome all the guests and get things started was DCKAP’s distinguished Founder & CEO, Karthik Chidambaram. During his inspirational opening note, Karthik cited specifically from a recent book in which he took great influence, Only the Paranoid Survive by Andrew S. Grove. He focused on the fact that, in many ways, we are all at a Strategic Inflection Point, and went on to explain how resisting change is a central pain point that many people and businesses in the distribution industry need to overcome. In order to compete, we need to become proprietors of our own business and empower our teams to grow despite the challenge of circumstances.

There was also a very special announcement of DCKAP’s latest product Zircly, an employee experience platform meant to help bridge the gap between different teams in your company and make it easier to embody a people-centered culture. Watch the official launch announcement below and hear about it from our very own HR leader extraordinaire, Dipthi Rajagopal. & Check out the Beta version now to enjoy all the premium features for free!

After his presentation, Karthik invited J.R. Tapper, President at Rigid Hitch Inc., up to the stage for a one on one customer interview entitled “Carrying a 60 Year Legacy into The Digital Age.” With his well-rounded experience in the industry, and important lessons learned along the way, J.R. offered many invaluable insights on how to grow your distribution business and what finding longterm success means in the digital age.

J.R. Tapper - Leading the Distribution Industry

Next up was the engaging presentation from our Platinum sponsors at BigCommerce, Sachin Wadhawan, Vice President of Channel Sales, and Alec Berkley, Director of B2B Strategic Partnerships. In their session on “Competing Online In A Post-Pandemic Era,” we learned more about B2B commerce trends, some current success stories, and the main ways to compete online. From upgrading your digital infrastructure, building a self-serve buying experience, to selling and advertising in various forms, the road to success all starts by being built on a solid foundation with the ability to flex and grow.

We were very glad to have a returning guest speaker to our event, Bharani Nagarathnam, Associate Professor of Instruction at Texas A&M University. He provided us with great information on how important talent is for the growth of your company, and he shared many actionable insights during his session entitled “Growth Hinges on People: Aligning Your Growth and Talent Plans.” Some of the key takeaways from his session are to identify critical roles, build success profiles, and identify successors in order to develop your team and build into the future.

Before taking our lunch break, we had the opportunity to hear from our esteemed special guest speaker, Duncan Wardle, the Former Head of Innovation and Creativity at Disney. Being that he is not a typical presenter, he came out and directly engaged with our audience in an interactive session that helped to harness playfulness and bring out the ever important creativity and innovation that is often difficult to achieve under normal working conditions. 

Everyone took a lot from it, and each person walked away from his session feeling as if they were better prepared to tackle the creative process moving forward, which was just what we were hoping for with having him join us, to help inspire even more creativity especially within the distribution industry!

After enjoying a delicious meal during the lunch break, we jumped right back into the packed agenda with an informative presentation by our own Mohan Natarajan, Services Practice Leader at DCKAP. In his session, he posed the question of “Where Do Distributors Stand in This Digital Revolution?” From the evolution of industrial distribution, how to simplify commerce for distribution, to business process automation, Mohan took us through various key points and insights that are sure to help distributors and their customers embrace the future of automation.

Next, Kathi Mishek, the Global Director of Account Services & eCommerce Operations at 3M took the stage. In her session, “Exchanging Data: Improving Productivity And Sales Velocity With Next Gen Solutions (APIs),” she took us through an enlightening presentation on how to exchange data more effectively in the distribution world. With the impressive background of 3M as a global supply company, the insights Kathi brought to the event drilled down into the concept of how to make everything in operations flow effectively. From small companies to enterprise scale companies, each have surprisingly similar needs for improving productivity and increasing sales most effectively.

Representing our Gold sponsor of the event, Rainey Bailey, Partner Marketing Manager at Klevu, came on next to discuss the importance of customer loyalty. In her session entitled “Sustaining Customer Loyalty Through The eCommerce Experience,” Rainey discussed product discovery and why it’s so important when it comes to driving revenue growth. Alongside the evolving times and changing B2B buyers, experience matters and search results are a key experience on any website.

Our next presenter came on to talk about integration through his inspirational session on “The Distributor’s Guide To Breaking Operational Silos.” Aaron Pallares, Solutions Engineer/Account Manager here at DCKAP, went through an integral reason why companies can benefit from systems integration. What is comes down to is that the ability to effectively communicate is important, whether that be between departments or between systems.

In the example given by Aaron, he presented DCKAP Integrator as a tool that offers a solution for these kinds of scenarios, one that specifically breaks down the barriers of communication between systems and streamlines operations.

Lijesh Shetty, Director of Ecommerce and Digital Development at SRS Distribution, also joined us to help cap up the end of the event with a great session on “Advancing Tech to Grow in Distribution.” After going through some of the history and interesting facts about the company, Lijesh utilized their journey of success to exemplify how scalability and growth are pivotal to reach future goals. From increasing efficiency to delighting customers, advancing technology is the key to achieving even greater success.

The final session of the day consisted of a panel discussion on “Leveraging the ecosystem for Growth and Learning from Competition.” Our very own Tim Diep, Customer Success Manager at DCKAP, moderated the great conversation with our amazing panel of guests – Damien Kennedy, Partnerships Manager Americas at Dotdigital, Andrew Taylor, Co-Founder at Conveyance Solutions, and Jenny Sagan, Office Manager at Koehler Rubber & Supply. Each guest on the panel dug into the engaging discussion of how to compete in the increasingly digital age of the distribution industry, and how to fully utilize key resources, from advanced technology solutions to the partners you choose to align with.

Finally, it was time to wrap up the well-rounded agenda and end the full day. But, before we thanked everyone for joining us and welcomed our attendees to the cocktail hour, we drew the winners of our lucky raffles. Our Silver sponsors, Avalara, drew the winner for their Yeti cooler, and DCKAP drew the winner for a Kindle Paperwhite. Our Gold sponsors, Klevu, gave away an iPad, and our Platinum sponsors, BigCommerce, gave away an amazing grand prize of a Microsoft Surface!

Congratulations again to all the winners, and many thanks to everyone who spent the day with us at the Sheraton Grand hotel in downtown Los Angeles. The DCKAP Summit was a great experience, and we were honored by all the informative and inspirational speakers, the support of our partners, clients, and attendees who joined us there to help make it an unforgettable day.

After a full day of engaging sessions, it was great ending the event with some fun cocktails and conversation before finally saying goodbye to all our wonderful guests.

We’ve loved creating a space for distributors to learn and grow on their digital journeys, and we look forward to continuing to create an educational environment that helps everyone succeed. We can’t wait to see everyone next year for what we have planned next!

Catherine Sulskis

Catherine works with the marketing team at DCKAP writing compelling content, strategizing and leading various marketing projects, helping to broaden the brand and the company mission, and producing the Driven by DCKAP podcast. With an educational background in creative writing and sociology, and having worked in partnership building and being focused in the tech industry for most of her career, she has a special affinity for the power of connection, compelling storytelling and the future of technology.

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