Entrepreneurship with Passion and Precision: Greg Rohn’s Journey to Success

Entrepreneurship with Passion and Precision: Greg Rohn's Journey to Success

In an enlightening interview with CanadianSME Small Business Magazine, Greg Rohn shares his journey from a budding entrepreneur to the co-founder of GMD Wholesale, emphasizing the critical role of passion, commitment, and strong business relationships in achieving success. Starting his career in the challenging times of a recession, Greg quickly learned the importance of sales skills, which propelled him into various industries and ultimately led him to establish his own company alongside Moishe Posner. Greg’s story highlights how relentless focus, ethical business practices, and the ability to adapt and scale, particularly through the strategic adoption of a wholesale and online drop shipping business model, have been pivotal in navigating the ups and downs of the entrepreneurial world. His experience offers valuable lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs on the importance of building strong relationships, diversifying product lines, and maintaining confidence in the face of adversity.

Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Greg Rohn is trusted leader and entrepreneur with a passion for music and drumming. In 1982, he graduated from Ryerson with a diploma in marketing. Soon after, he began his career selling life insurance. Despite the recession at the time, he became the one of the youngest members of the Million Dollar Round Table.  It was at this first job that Greg learned all the valuable sales skills that have made him so successful today, including organization, lead generation, and customer service. His career has spanned many industries such as high-tech, photo, and consumer electronics, including business development in Russia and the Ukraine in the late 1980’s. Eventually Greg and his business partner Moishe Posner started their own company, GMD Wholesale. They specialize in both wholesale and on-line drop shipping for top Canadian retailers, and have diversified their offerings to include many prominent brands. For more information, please reach out to [email protected] or go to gmdwholesale.ca.

Considering your diverse career and the founding of GMD Wholesale, how crucial do you think passion is for entrepreneurial success, and how has it played a role in your journey? 

Whether you call it passion, single-minded focus or 100% belief in what you’re doing, it’s important to have this quality as an entrepreneur, because there will be many roadblocks along the way. If you don’t believe in what you’re trying to do, it’s very easy to give up. We’ve never had any doubt that we could succeed as a business. Bottom-line is that if you want to achieve success in your future, you need to be focused, have a plan, and be 100% committed to your company.  You also need to be honorable, ethical and build strong relationships along the way. 

In the context of building strong business relationships, what strategies have you found most effective for GMD Wholesale, and how do you maintain these relationships over the long term? 

I always tell people that developing strong business relationships is the foundation to success. Treat people nicely and do what you say you are going to do – very simple. You never know who you will meet today who will become a valuable resource in the future.

The best way to build a strong business relationship is to go above and beyond what is expected from you. We will go out of our way, even if the product is not in our catalogue, to fulfill our customers’ needs. That kind of service gives you so much credibility. When you maintain these relationships, it goes beyond business, you become friends.

If people like you, they will want to do business with you. This goes for every person you come across on the job. From supplier to retailer, to banker to couriers who make extra stops during busy season.

GMD Wholesale has a distinct business model focusing on wholesale and online drop shipping. What motivated you to adopt this model, and how did you identify the market gap it fills? 

We started in 2006, buying electronics closeouts in the USA and selling them to tier-two Canadian retailers. That was our business model in the beginning. Over the years we solidified contacts and relationships with both suppliers and customers. When Sholom Posner joined the firm, he concentrated on the eCommerce side of our business which was very small at the time. Over the years, we’ve refined, automated, and overcame challenges, but we’ve now developed a dropship model that appeals to some of the largest companies in toys, outdoor sporting goods, home products, and more.

Entrepreneurship with Passion and Precision: Greg Rohn's Journey to Success
Image Courtesy: GMD Wholesale

Canada is a unique market with unique challenges. We have met some suppliers who were starting to pull out of Canada, but we came in at the right time with a business model that worked for them.  

GMD has a unique, full-service model that attracts these companies. When we visit trade shows, we meet with many large American companies that already do business in Canada but in a limited way. We help them expand their reach. Sometimes, after showing them what we can do for them, they end up turning the whole Canadian side of the business over to us, because it is so much easier.  

Luck does play a part in growing a business. You work hard and just happen to figure out a business model that works very well.

Scaling a startup presents numerous challenges. Could you share insights into how you’ve successfully scaled GMD Wholesale, including key decisions that spurred growth? 

We started 18 years ago with four people, in a leased office, and a small portion of a warehouse. Now, we have over 30 employees and have upgraded our offices and warehouses many times over the years.

One of the most important decisions to make as you grow your business is finding the right people and hiring them for the right position. You need to have excellent people working in all areas of your business, from accounting to sales to the warehouse. We have great, hard-working employees. 

There are many financial decisions to make along the way.  Financing all the inventory, additional employees, and warehouse space, negotiating with suppliers etc. Making the right financial decisions is key to scaling your business. 

Another important decision is whether to take on additional product lines. We started out in electronics, and now we have 15 different product categories -from furniture to sporting goods, to toys and more.

Finally, confidence is important in growing your business. Results build confidence. At a certain point you don’t have any hesitation in going for bigger suppliers and customers. 

You grow to the point where you have value to offer the big retailers. We deal with all the big chains now and often they refer potential suppliers to GMD.  

The recent economic downturns have tested many businesses. What specific strategies did GMD Wholesale implement to navigate these challenges and continue to thrive? 

When the pandemic started, everyone was unsure of the future.  Companies were laying off employees, orders were being cancelled.  But very quickly online sales exploded and because we had built a strong eCommerce business, GMD was able to take advantage of the situation. 

We have been able to navigate the current economic downturn successfully. Two reasons include category diversification and strong relationships. As one category may go down, another category will grow. Even today, we are constantly adding new product lines to our expanding catalog.  

It’s important to note that retailers are cutting down on the number of vendors they work with. Therefore, it’s essential to become a key vendor in their eyes. This requires building strong relationships and making good decisions. Become a valuable partner to both suppliers and customers and there will be business in any economy.

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