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ICP: Three Little Letters to Help You Grow

Industrial Careers Pathway

By Ginger Wheeler

Next time you are pondering, “How am I going to find the talent I need to grow my company?” and banging your head against a wall looking for ideas, think of three little letters: ICP. Short for Industrial Careers Pathway, ICP offers dozens of clever ideas and free or low-cost resources to assist industrial distributors in building the pipeline for your future workforce. Use ICP’s resources to hire talented, entry-level people, be a better employer and manager for young people, and grow your business with all that fresh, new blood on your team.

Why ICP Resources?
Your core purpose is focused on solving your customers’ problems. Telling your future workforce about who you are, what you do and why industrial distribution is an incredibly rewarding career is not something you do daily, so it’s not an area where you may have devoted much effort. ICP resources are created by representatives from nine supporting trade associations (called ICP Alliance Partners) and volunteers from their member companies who are industrial distributors. They have put a lot of thought into what an industrial distributor needs to attract, retain and motivate talent. Through their collaboration, they’ve developed a slew of tools you can use to tell your story.

Get Started
The number one ICP resource is the website at The primary repository of everything ICP creates to help you hire the best and brightest talent, should be your first stop when you are thinking about the future of your company. The website offers advice on how to attract talented new hires to your company and resources you can use to hire, on-board, manage, and retain younger employees who are critical to your company’s future growth.

From the ICP website, you can link right to the ICP Job Board and other resources where your company can be listed so that job-seekers can find you easily when they are ready to land a job or internship with an industrial distributor.

Be Visible Where Young People Are
Developing resources for distributors to use to improve the hiring process and outcome is only about a quarter of the ICP team’s work. Much of the team’s outcome is focused on attracting right-fit entry-level talent to jobs in industrial distribution. So be sure you’re visible when they come looking for you after they have been urged to do so at any number of events, career fairs, social media and career search websites, mobile-phone games, or schools where ICP has been making industrial distribution a known career option for them.

Go an Extra Step
To make your company a desirable and visible employer in your community, consider volunteering to attend a career fair at a school near you. Many industrial distributors have already stepped up to this challenge with great success (read about their experiences at To prepare, download ICP’s free resources on Career Fair Participation.

Next thing you know, you’ll be getting opportunities to speak to a group of students at a school near you or host a field trip for a group of students who want to see what a real industrial distributor looks like. More resources are available for free on how to maximize these very valuable community relations opportunities to help your business thrive.

ICP Makes It Easy for You
We know manning career fair booths, speaking to student groups and opening your business to tours is not where you usually spend your business time and energy. However, these types of public relations activities are an essential component for attracting, hiring, and retaining talent in your local community to keep your industrial distribution business viable and growing.

To help, view compiled webinars, tips, and ideas, as well as read about the documented experiences of distributors who have actually done it (and survived!).
If your company is a member of an ICP Alliance Partner, then ICP works with you hand-in-glove to prepare you for the career fair and even sends you free give-away items for you to hand out to young folks you meet. The ICP team wants to make sure you have the best experience possible at the least possible cost—in most cases, there are zero costs associated with gaining assistance from ICP. Booth materials can even be provided, and ICP covers the shipping costs to make you look great and be proud of working in the field of industrial distribution!

Post an Open Position on the ICP Job Board
When you are ready to advertise your open job positions, ICP is there again. The ICP Job Board is the only job board on the internet exclusively positioned to attract entry-level job seekers to industrial distribution. You can post your open job for a small fee—a fraction of the cost of the major job boards—and even enjoy a discount due to your membership in one of the nine ICP Alliance Partner trade associations. ICP takes it from there to boost your job posting to an average of over 140 views for each open position.

Keep ’em Happy and Offer Low-Cost Training
Once you’ve hired your next great employee, make sure your business is doing everything it can to keep your young employees engaged, productive, and happy working at your distributorship. Training is key: Enroll them in Elements of Industrial Distribution, a self-study course that teaches industrial distribution basics (available online and as a textbook). ICP also offers tips and resources for training, managing, and retaining your hard-won newbie. Subscribe to the ICP Talent Tipsheet (at to get a quick-read monthly tip and action step for this purpose.

No matter where you happen to be in the journey to attract, recruit, hire, manage, train, and retain your entry-level employees, think of ICP first as your best low/no-cost resource for making not only the field of industrial distribution, but also your company, the number one choice for the best and brightest right-fit job seekers in your community.

Ginger WheelerContact ICP at (312) 516-2100 or for more information about any of the resources mentioned in this article. Ginger Wheeler is director, marketing & communications for Industrial Careers Pathway (ICP) and the PTDA
Foundation. She can be reached at

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2016 issue of Industrial Supply magazine. Copyright 2016, Direct Business Media.


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