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Mentoring Month in Profile: Jim Benning

No matter who you are and which industry you work in, chances are you know the power of a mentor. They might be the voice in your ear encouraging you to apply for that promotion, or that late-night call checking in after a long day at work. Even mentors have mentors — it’s how we pass on the best of what we know to the people that need it most. Being a good mentor can be a 24/7 job. And while mentorship is never limited to just one month, it’s particularly worth celebrating this January during National Mentoring Month.

Mentoring is a critical component of professional development and personal growth for folks in any industry. And it’s especially vital in chemical distribution. That’s why mentorship has been a defining aspect of Responsible Distribution since its inception in 1991. For the past 11 years, Doug Kutz has chaired this initiative within NACD as our Responsible Distribution Mentor — and with great success. After all these years, it’s only fitting that Doug caps off his extraordinary tenure by preparing and mentoring his successor, Jim Benning.

So what does it take to be a Responsible Distribution Mentor? For Jim, it doesn’t start with him touting his industry acumen. “Sometimes it’s just listening to what they need help with.” Jim is no stranger to Responsible Distribution. He’s been on the Responsible Distribution Committee for over 10 years, serving as Chair in 2012 and 2013.

As a longtime Code Coordinator, Jim has unique experiences with ISO and lean manufacturing — which he thinks will be valuable to member companies looking to ramp up their procedures and systems. “Many of our members have an ISO quality management system in place. I have strong knowledge of how you can integrate the programs into one management system. I am also extremely excited to pass on how members could tie lean manufacturing principles into their Responsible Distribution practices,” Jim elaborated.

While codes and regulations may change year-to-year, Jim believes that Responsible Distribution success boils down to implementing procedures that work for you and the verifiers. On a practical level, that could mean having someone from accounting audit the work that’s being done in operations. Or having Code Coordinators and managers spend more time in the warehouse to see what can be improved on the ground. 

At its core, NACD’s Responsible Distribution Mentoring Program is about helping our members and Affiliates better understand the commitment, resources, and the many aspects of a successful program. As 2020 ushers in the 7th cycle of Responsible Distribution, we’re lucky to have Jim’s guidance and the legacy of Doug’s mentorship to draw upon.


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