J.D. Ewing, CEO of distributing company, speaks at Penn State Fayette

LEMONT FURNACE, Pa. — Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus, hosted J.D. Ewing, founder and chief executive officer of COE Distributing, on Sept. 12 in the latest installment of the CEO Conversations series, sponsored by Ford Business Machines. Morgan Pytlak, a sophomore nursing student, facilitated a discussion after the presentation.

Ewing is the third-generation owner of COE Distributing, a wholesale office furniture company based in Fayette County. After taking over in 1989 as the only employee, Ewing functioned in multiple roles, from answering the phone and making sales to loading trucks and developing marketing campaigns. By 2006, Ewing had grown the company's revenue to $21 million. Today, COE is the largest furniture-only wholesale office furniture distributor in the country with sales in excess of $60 million.

“It’s important to build a team of people you trust. The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is that people are the difference-makers,” said Ewing. “Without their help, support and love, success is not possible.”