For Immediate Release
UNIONTOWN (April 6, 2021) — Planning for future double-digit growth in revenue and profits, office furnishings wholesaler COE Distributing has enhanced its executive team to support targeted initiatives and provide the ultimate client experience through hyper-focused customer service.

Effective immediately, J.D. Ewing will move from his role of president into the position of chairman, continuing his role as CEO. Ewing has grown this third-generation, family-owned business to one of the largest distributors of office furnishings in the United States with more than 100 employees. Under his
leadership, COE brought new products to market last year in the midst of a global pandemic and achieved its highest revenue months in company history in August and September, topping out for the first time ever at $10MM revenue.

Moving forward, he will focus on key customer relationships, refining company culture and big-picture strategy to move COE forward and position the company for explosive and sustainable growth.

“Over the past year, the COE team has navigated substantial challenges and repeatedly shown ourselves, our clients, our vendors and the world how we embrace change, becoming better and stronger because of it,” Ewing said.

“I’m particularly excited about the metamorphosis we’re now beginning. Our energized leadership team is committed to doing what’s best for the company and our redefined roles will allow all team members to leverage their strengths to achieve optimal performance.”

Former chief financial officer Mike Flaherty will transition into the role of president and chief operating officer, overseeing day-to-day, core operations.

A CPA and finance executive with 30 years of experience and an MBA from Duquesne University, Flaherty has served COE Distributing as CFO for two years. Since beginning his career with accounting, finance and information technology positions with Westinghouse Electric, he’s spent 15 years in various executive
positions with Reynolds American before assuming the role of CFO for American Beverage Corporation. Flaherty was named Pittsburgh Business Times CFO of the Year in both 2014 and 2020.

COE will hire a new CFO and has delineated several new positions to enable leaders to focus more intently on specific goals and continuous process improvement.

Jennifer Jubin has been named vice president of customer experience to oversee all employees and processes impacting customers. Jubin joined COE in 2016 as VP of operations. Skilled in strategic leadership, analytics, forecasting, budgeting and problem solving, she holds an MBA from the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business.

John Townsend was appointed director of warehouse operations managing COE’s three distribution centers in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Texas. Jack Kramer was elevated to fill Townsend’s previous position as facility manager for the Pennsylvania warehouse.

Earlier this year, COE Distributing created two new positions and retooled its marketing department in anticipation of burgeoning demand for e-commerce services. “The move to online sales has accelerated over the past 12 months, and our team is prepared to provide the resources our customers need and want in this increasingly digital environment,” said Chief

Marketing Officer Melanie Ewing, who was elevated to that role in the recent department expansion. Melanie Ewing most recently served as marketing director and continues to shape the marketing team she built from the ground up as it develops to meet business goals and growth demands.

Scott Nichols joined COE as director of e-commerce sales strategy, a key position created to optimize and enhance e-commerce business by implementing best practices to maximize growth and sales and create best-in-class representation of products on e-commerce platforms. He joins COE from Milwaukee-based National Business Furniture, where he spent 13 years in a variety of roles involving merchandising, product management, e-commerce, channel development, sales, global sourcing, pricing, customer service, market strategy and vendor relations.

COE’s Leslie Eldridge assumed Melanie Ewing’s post as marketing director in the recent restructuring. A skilled communicator leading creative teams in bringing strategic marketing initiatives to life, Eldridge brings an eye for detail and the ability to conceptualize the big picture to her new role. Eldridge has exceled in numerous capacities during her more than 20-year tenure with COE, most recently serving as senior graphic designer and web content manager.

Additionally, accomplished supply chain executive Bob Nau joined COE in December as director of supply chain. Nau brings expertise in reengineering business processes to optimize inventories to COE and has previously excelled in similar roles with Medrad, Respironics and Fenner Dunlop Americas.

“We’re poised to move forward with the right people in the right seats on the bus doing the right things,” J.D. Ewing said. “Change often can be difficult, but we have a culture of attacking change with positivity and success, always keeping our core values of customer service, teamwork, quality, transparency, safety and respect in view.”

UNIONTOWN, Pa. – Dec. 7, 2020 – PRLog — For the seventh consecutive year, national office furnishings wholesaler COE Distributing and its President and CEO J.D. Ewing are highlighted among the Pittsburgh region’s Smart 50, an elite honor recognizing leaders of flourishing companies as identified by Smart Business Magazine.

Since 2014, the Pittsburgh Smart 50 Awards recognize the top executives of the 50 smartest companies for their ability to build and lead successful organizations.

“It’s incredibly meaningful to be recognized with my team alongside so many of our region’s top companies, particularly during such a grueling year,” said Ewing. “Building a strong team has enabled our company to thrive during the most trying circumstances and reach our highest levels of success.”

Businesses face few trials as staggering as the COVID-19 pandemic. For a company devoted to furnishing offices, the abrupt and prolonged closure of offices across the United States seemed especially daunting.

Ewing encouraged COE’s marketing team to quickly pivot and promote work-from-home solutions right away. Seeing an urgent need for products to help make offices safer, COE plunged into manufacturing for the first time ever. The team created an expansive line of acrylic screens and dividers in-house, bringing the products to market within just two months.

The temporary foray into manufacturing paid off. COE achieved its highest revenue month in company history in August — and shattered that record in September, topping out for the first time ever at $10MM revenue.

While COE expanded its product offerings to meet emerging demand, it simultaneously expanded its already robust employee engagement programs to ensure team members stayed connected and felt supported. Not only did Ewing make good on promises not to furlough any employees or cut benefits, he increased pay for all eligible employees, hired 15 additional staff, gave employees an additional 80 hours of COVID paid time off and delivered one of COE’s highest profit-sharing payouts during the pandemic.

“If we don’t have a strong team of employees who are invested, we can’t make the shifts needed to keep the business moving forward,” Ewing said. “Keeping our team, not just employed, but highly engaged, is how we remain relevant.”

UNIONTOWN, Pa. – Nov. 12, 2020 – PRLog — Mike Flaherty, COE Distributing’s chief financial officer, is recognized for outstanding performance and corporate stewardship as a recipient of the Pittsburgh Business Times CFO of the Year Award.
 

Flaherty is among just 16 financial professionals in western Pennsylvania honored in the 2020 awards program.

Now in his second year at COE, Flaherty has already proven to be a strong asset to the company. He secured funding needed to foster continued growth at COE and realized significant savings through a variety of efforts to reduce interest and costs while improving inventory management and purchasing processes. Flaherty’s guidance was key in COE’s recent addition of a distribution center in Houston and he played a pivotal role in securing and administering Paycheck Protection Program loans and managing collections to help COE successfully navigate through the challenges of COVID-19.

“Mike Flaherty is a true A Player, who checks the boxes of being humble, hungry and smart,” said COE President and CEO J.D. Ewing. “Not only does he propel his direct team forward with positive leadership, he propels our entire company forward in growth and profitability.”

An effective leader and teacher, Flaherty helps members of his team ascend the ranks while exemplifying COE’s core values of customer service, respect, teamwork, quality, safety and transparency. He’s embraced the company’s 2020 goal of helping its team members become more financially fit, serving as a valuable resource for employees.

Winners of the CFO of the Year awards were selected from a pool of online nominations by the Pittsburgh Business Times editorial staff and a panel of judges who were winners of the 2019 award. The recipients will be profiled in a special edition of the Pittsburgh Business Times on Nov. 13 and at a virtual event on Nov. 19.

COE Distributing President J.D. Ewing Named to NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence Board

UNIONTOWN, Pa. – Nov. 11, 2020 – PRLog — J.D. Ewing, President and CEO of national office furnishings wholesaler COE Distributing, has been appointed to the board of directors of the National Association of Wholesalers’ Institute for Distribution Excellence.
 

The NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence is a leading provider of research exclusively for and about the wholesale distribution industry. The NAW Institute conducts research into strategic management issues with best practice distributors, publishing leading-edge studies, reports, white papers and other publications with practical application for wholesale distribution firms of all sizes and across all lines of trade.

Ewing will serve a four-year term, attending meetings each spring and fall in Washington, D.C., and evaluating and giving feedback on research proposals and manuscripts.

“We seek board members with intellectual curiosity who are leading thinkers interested in strategies to enhance distributor performance,” said Patricia A. Lilly, NAW’s Chief Thought Leadership Officer. “We are pleased to have J.D. Ewing lend his skills and experience to help guide research to improve the performance and profitability of merchant wholesaler-distributors.”

Ewing has had the opportunity to gain experience in every position in his company while growing it from his grandmother’ typewriter repair shop to one of the largest distributors of office furnishings in the United States.

He’s earned top accolades including Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year and Inc. magazine’s Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies. He is frequently tapped to share his expertise on topics such as supply chain management, efficiency and leadership.

Placing premiums on life-long learning and employee engagement, Ewing developed robust training programs to cultivate leaders and create a culture of respect, empowerment and satisfaction at COE.

“I’ve worked diligently to foster collaboration among my team, our customers and vendors and witnessed cooperation between all the players pay dividends,” Ewing said. “The opportunity to serve on the NAW Institute Board is an ideal fit for my interest in continually improving operations to provide a better experience for employees and clients alike.”

COE Distributing Equips Future Ready Center to Prepare Brownsville Area Students for Workforce

 
UNIONTOWN, Pa. – Oct. 19, 2020 – PRLog — A donation of stylish, modern office furnishings helped students in the Brownsville Area School District turn an underutilized middle school library into a next-generation center for career preparation and development.

From a reception area to comfy sofa and club chairs with tablet arms for the fireplace work area, COE Distributing outfitted the new career resource center by donating more than $40,000 in furnishings from its private-label brand OfficeSource in silver, black and blue. Four pedestal tables, 16 stools and funky, cushioned “spool chairs” round out the Center’s unique new look.

District officials will cut the ribbon on the Future Ready Center on October 22, ushering in new opportunities for students to prepare for post-secondary life. Located in the former Brownsville Area Middle School library, the Future Ready Center was designed from the ground up by students to provide the resources and tools they’ll need to explore a variety of careers in an environment that will inspire them.

“We wanted it to be a modern, urban design with large open spaces and an airy feel” said Lynn Jellots, a Brownsville Area teacher who coordinates the Center with librarian Jennie Karwatske. “Mr. J.D. Ewing from COE made a generous donation above and beyond our expectations, offering furniture designs that met our vision for the Center.”

The FRC will afford students opportunities to complete career interest inventories then gain familiarity with various careers, explore internship and job shadowing options, increase preparedness for success in post-secondary institutions and obtain industry-based credentials. It also will be an information hub where students can conduct research and monitor opportunities for scholarships, internships, employment, SAT exam dates and upcoming workshops.

The project was an ideal collaboration for COE. Not only is President and CEO J.D. Ewing a Brownsville Area High School graduate, he volunteers with organizations that mentor students to become productive members of the workforce. At COE, he’s instituted special training for Rising Stars and a host of offerings to help all employees continually grow both personally and professionally.

“Our strength as a company comes from our employees,” Ewing said. “I’m passionate about employee engagement and about sharing with the next generation and equipping future employees for success.”
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