Col. Nicole Malachowski
United States Air Force (Ret.)
Keynote Address: Harnessing Headwinds of Change
In flying, headwinds slow you down. At their worst, they cause you to change your plans and impact the effectiveness of weapons in combat. Headwinds demand that pilots be resilient and resourceful, literally on the fly. “Headwinds are the perfect metaphor for the change impacting organizations and individuals today,” says 21-year Air Force veteran Nicole Malachowski. A former fighter squadron commander and mission-ready pilot in three operational fighter squadrons and the first woman to fly on the Air Force Thunderbirds, Nicole has the perfect message to inspire audiences to think differently about the headwinds of change they face – organizationally and personally. Drawing on her extraordinary Air Force career, Nicole offers lessons on leadership, followership, and overcoming adversity. She weaves storytelling with breathtaking video from the cockpit of her jet as the Thunderbirds execute precision turns, rolls, and loops – all just 36” from one another at 400 mph and just 300 feet off the ground. Nicole’s keynote helps audiences ignite their own indomitable spirit in order to succeed far beyond what they might dream. “Failure isn’t fatal,” she says, “it’s the price of entry if you want to achieve something great.”
Meet Col. Nicole Malachowski
Col. Nicole Malachowski, USAF (Ret.) defies stereotypes. Yes, she was a jet fighter pilot, but if you think you know her based on that, you’d be wrong. A leader, a combat veteran, the first woman pilot on the Thunderbirds Air Demonstration Squadron, a White House Fellow, and an inductee into both the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the Women in Aviation International Pioneer Hall of Fame, Nicole’s distinguished 21-year Air Force career exceeded her wildest dreams. But the dream came to an end when a devastating tickborne illness left her struggling greatly to speak or walk for almost nine months. An indomitable spirit, Nicole fought back against overwhelming odds and prevailed. Drawing on stories from her career and personal life, Nicole inspires audiences to rethink the challenges they face every day. She urges them to go beyond resilience and become resurgent. Nicole’s empowers people with three key beliefs: failure and risk is the price of entry for achieving something great; sometimes you need to yield to overcome; and her personal mantra – “Nobody wants to lead a scripted life.” Nicole brings her experience to the stage and holds audiences spellbound with an easygoing authenticity of someone who’s achieved greatness. She’s been a member and leader of exceptional teams. She has faced overwhelming challenges and adversity and has come out on top.
While other high school students were practicing for their driver’s license, Nicole was accumulating flight time. She was sixteen years old when she took her first solo flight and from that point on there was no stopping her. While in high school, she joined the Civil Air Patrol and participated in Air Force Junior ROTC. Nicole’s professional story began when she earned her commission from the United States Air Force Academy in 1996. Following graduation, she attended Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) at Columbus AFB, MS and began her career as a pilot. Competitively selected to fly combat aircraft, she was among the first group of women to fly modern fighter aircraft. As a career pilot, she served in combat as an F-15E Flight Commander, Evaluator, Instructor Pilot and Flight Lead. Over her 21-year career, Nicole achieved the rating of Command Pilot with over 2,300 flight hours in six different Air Force aircraft. She was also selected to fly as Thunderbird #3 with the USAF Air Demonstration Squadron – the first woman to fly on any Department of Defense military jet demonstration squadron. Colonel Malachowski has served as a mission ready fighter pilot in three operational F-15E fighter squadrons and has flown over 188 combat hours, including her proudest moment as a fighter pilot: leading the first fighter formation to provide security for Iraq’s historic democratic elections in 2005.
On the ground, Nicole was a White House Fellow, class of 2008-2009, where she served on the Presidential Transition Support Team (PTST) while assigned to the U.S. General Services Administration. The White House Fellows Foundation and Association awarded Nicole the 2019 IMPACT Award for demonstrating both remarkable achievement and transformational contributions in her field, as well as a sustained commitment to the White House Fellows program. Nicole also served two high-level staff assignments at the Pentagon – one in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD P&R) as well as the Secretary of the Air Force Office of International Affairs (SAF/IA). She also served as the Executive Director of the White House’s national ‘Joining Forces’ initiative where she directly advised former First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden on all topics relating to service members, veterans, and military families to include employment, education, mental health, veterans’ homelessness and more.
Nicole’s operational F-15E assignments include two tours of duty at RAF Lakenheath, United Kingdom as well as one operational assignment to Seymour Johnson AFB, NC. She has also served alongside the United States Army 2nd Infantry Division, Camp Red Cloud, Republic of Korea, as an Air Liaison Officer. During her second assignment to Seymour Johnson AFB, NC, she had the honor of commanding the 333rd Fighter Squadron, leading an elite cadre of F-15E Instructors in the training of the next generation of combat aviators. Further, she was responsible for resources totaling over $1.1B and the execution of a $119M annual flying hour program.
Nicole earned a Master of Arts, with honors, in National Security Policy from American Military University and a second Master of Arts, with highest distinction, in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College. While there, she earned the Admiral Stephen B. Luce Award as the class honor graduate, the first Air Force officer in the history of the Naval War College to do so. Nicole has been recognized with several honors for her consistent contributions to community service. As Nicole continues to recover from her neurological tick-borne illness, she embraces any opportunity to educate others about her medical journey and gains energy from educating others about this growing epidemic. She is on the Board of Directors at the LivLyme Foundation and is a Patient Advisory Board Member of The Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness.
Colonel Nicole Malachowski, USAF (Ret.) was born in Santa Maria, CA and graduated high school in Las Vegas, NV. She and her husband Paul have twin children; son Garrick and daughter Norah. Paul is a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and former F-15E Evaluator Weapons Systems Officer.
CEO, ITR Economics
General Session: Economic Guidance in an Uncertain Economy
There are a multitude of forces acting upon all of us as we head toward the end of 2020 and these same forces will shape much of what happens in 2021 and beyond. COVID-19, consumer activity, business decisions, the financial markets, fiscal stimulus, monetary stimulus, and politics are coming together to create trends and uncertainty to an extent many of us have never experienced before. We will break it down, objectively look at the numbers and trends, and present what it is likely to mean to NBMDA members. Distributors and manufacturers are facing the need to think about the quarters immediately ahead of them, but we also don’t have the luxury of not strategizing for 2021, 2022, 2023. We have lots to talk about; all geared toward enabling you to make the best possible decisions to maximize profits. We look forward to our November 6, 2020 annual event with you. You don’t want to miss this one!
Meet Brian Beaulieu
Alex Brian has been delivering workshops and economic analysis seminars in 7 countries to thousands of business owners and executives for the last 35 years. During that period he has also been consulting with companies who need a domestic and global perspective on how to forecast, plan, and increase their profits based on business cycle trend analysis.
He is co-author of Prosperity in the Age of Decline, a powerful look at how to make the most of the US and global trends over the next 20 years. Brian also co-authored Make Your Move, a practical and insightful guide on increasing profits through business cycle changes, and noted by one reviewer as “simple, yet awesome.” In addition, Brian co-authored But I Want It, a children’s book that helps children learn the value of money, saving, and helping others.
He is on the Board of Directors of the Ariens Company, a global leading manufacturer of outdoor power equipment, and a member of the Investment Committee for NorthStar Financial Services, CLS Investments in Omaha, Nebr.
Brian’s views have appeared in/on: the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Barron’s, USA Today, CNBC TV, FOX Business TV, Knight Ridder News Services, Reuters, CBS Radio, The Washington Times, Forbes, Atlanta Journal Constitution, KERA TV, Canadian TV, and numerous other outlets. He is a regular columnist and contributing economist to national trade associations and publications.
Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Distribution Strategy Group
General Session: Distribution Disruption and an Industry Call to Arms
It’s the wholesale distribution industry’s turn to face the powerful forces of disruption. Recent industry entrants -- well-capitalized and wielding new technologies and business models like artificial intelligence and marketplaces – are offering business buyers powerful and highly-differentiated value propositions.
And it’s not just Amazon – Google now operates a major marketplace, Walmart is aggressively pursuing B2B sales and Berkshire Hathaway has acquired distributors while investing to expand its own “sourcing marketplace.” Are these companies allies or rivals? How can distributors decide where partnerships can offer strategic advantages vs. those that deliver short-term gains at a high, long-term cost?
Like leaders in previously-disrupted industries, distributors are working hard to improve their operations and maximize their financial results. If history is any guide, though, these efforts may be insufficient to counter the threat posed by disruptors in the fight for market share. Clayton Christensen, author of The Innovator’s Dilemma, writes, “By doing what they must do to keep their margins strong and their stock price healthy, every company paves the way for its own disruption.”
During this session, 30-year industry veteran, Ian Heller, will explain the strategies, strengths and risks of distribution’s new disruptors. Heller will also lay out a point-by-point plan for distributors who are willing to adapt to the new environment and apply their unique strengths in innovative ways to defend and grow their businesses in the future.
Meet Ian Heller
Ian Heller is the Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer for Distribution Strategy Group, a research, consulting, analytics and thought leadership firm that provides marketing and strategic planning expertise to the distribution industry. Ian started his career as a truck unloader at a Grainger branch and left fifteen years later as the VP Marketing. Since then, Ian has served in similar roles at GE Capital, HD Supply, Corporate Express and Newark Electronics.
Ian holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and is a popular writer, speaker and consultant in the distribution industry.
President, KGC Direct, LLC
General Session: America’s Business and Demographic Advantages in a Post-Covid-19 Era
Kenneth W. Gronbach is predicting that the United States and the Americas, because of their superior demographics over any other continent, will excel culturally and economically in the post corona era. Ken is president of KGC Direct, LLC and is an internationally respected demographer who has been able to forecast societal, commercial, economic, cultural and political phenomena with uncanny accuracy. Ken’s unusual blend of marketing savvy and common-sense demography, based on over twenty years of proprietary demographic study, sets him apart. Ken keynotes all over the United States and the world. His company does high value customized demographic research. You will find that Ken’s steadfast position, that the United States is the best nation on earth and his firm belief that the country’s best days are ahead, season his spirited presentations with an unmistakable pro-American enthusiasm.
Ken is the author of the current best-selling book The Age Curve: How To Profit from the Coming Demographic Storm. His first book, Common Census, the Counter - Intuitive Guide to Generational Marketing, was released in 2005. Ken’s 2011 book Decades of Differences: Making it Work is a comprehensive guide to coping with three generations in the workforce. Ken’s newest book, Upside: Profit ing from the Profound Demographic Shifts Ahead, was published in April of 2017. Come explore the common-sense, but very counterintuitive and fascinating realm of demography. Let Ken Gronbach bring you into his world of counting people. What nations are demographically doomed and which ones will dramatically prosper? How will the workforces change? Why is a nation’s demographic dependency ratio so important? Exactly what is a demographic dividend? Learn this and more from Ken Gronbach’s presentation.
Meet Ken Gronbach
Kenneth W. Gronbach is president of KGC Direct, LLC and author of the best-selling book "The Age Curve: How To Profit from the Coming Demographic Storm". Ken’s new best seller “Upside: Profiting from the Profound Demographic Shifts Ahead” was released in April 2017.
Ken is an internationally respected demographer who has been able to forecast societal, commercial, economic, cultural and political phenomena with uncanny accuracy. Ken’s unusual blend of marketing savvy and common-sense demography, based on twenty years of proprietary demographic study, set him apart. He firmly believes that if you can’t explain a subject simply, you don’t understand it well enough. Ken has delivered keynote addresses in every state except Alaska. He has presented in the European Union, Middle East, Canada and Mexico. Ken also does high level customized demographic research for individual clients that provide valuable data for strategic planning.
You will find that Ken’s steadfast position, that the United States is the best Nation on earth and his firm belief that the country’s best days are ahead in the post pandemic era. He seasons his spirited presentations with an unmistakable pro-American can do enthusiasm.
Ken built KGA Advertising, INC., a $40 million consumer/retail advertising agency, from the ground up in the 1980’s and 1990’s. One of Ken’s clients, a fashion apparel retailer, grew from $10 million in annual sales to over $400 million on Ken’s watch.
Ken’s hobbies include building hot rod Mustangs and Porsches. Ken graduated from California State University at Long Beach. He and his wife enjoy living year-round in South West Florida.