SCHAUMBURG, Ill.—Growing up in Coshocton, Ohio, a small Midwestern town of about 11,000, Brian Dutton learned a lot about the nature of people.
"I best describe Coshocton to people not from Ohio as '1 to 3 hours from anywhere in Ohio that you would have actually ever heard of,' " Dutton said. "It was a great, little town—you learn a lot about the nature of people when you grow up in a small town, and you have a natural curiosity about anything that is different from the familiar."
That curiosity has helped Dutton forge a path of his own, one that led him to a new role with a global company.
On April 8, Dutton was named president of Schaumburg-based Kuriyama of America Inc., which is part of Osaka, Japan-based Kuriyama Holdings Corp., a global supplier of industrial and commercial hoses and accessories. He succeeds Lester Kraska, who stepped down earlier this month. Kraska will continue to serve as vice president of sales and marketing for KOA.
In his new role, Dutton oversees the company's North American operations, which include five regional warehouses, a central warehouse in Schaumburg, and an additional cross-docking service center in Indiana.
KOA also operates four hose-producing factories in the U.S., however the company's network also is fed by factories in Canada and corporation-owned factories in Europe. It also maintains partnerships with European and Asian factories, and has distribution in Mexico with its Kuriyama de Mexico main warehouse and Mexican headquarters in Monterrey.
Lessons learned during his upbringing in Coshocton already have served Dutton well in his leadership role at KOA, which has been deemed an essential company during the coronavirus pandemic.
"Value your people and demonstrate that you care with your actions," he said. "That is a lot easier said than done. There is probably no better way for a team member to know that they are valued than when you implement their idea. If you can do that more and more, people will begin to care less and less about whose idea it was and will simply appreciate it as a good idea."
Dutton began to pursue sales and distribution following his graduation from the University of Dayton, where he received a bachelor's degree in communications management and minors in business management and psychology.
But his journey was not without "some journalism thrown in."
"Halfway through school, I decided that I wanted to be a newspaper man, thus the weird range of studies," Dutton said. "After graduating and working for small suburban newspapers for a little bit, and getting disenchanted with it, I started to look for sales positions."
Dutton said it was not long before he realized that selling printed business forms in an industry that was looking anywhere but printed products required a reappraisal of the situation. So he refocused on companies that produced industrial items and sold them through distribution.
That's what led to his job with Dana Corp.
"My entry into the business was in the early 1990s, working for one of the sales divisions of Dana Corp.," Dutton said. "My training program included working on production lines in several hose and fitting factories in the Boston Weatherhead division, and I sold those brands as well as Everflex-branded products for a few years before going to work for a large distributor."