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McKenzie Robinson | SBJ

2021 Most Influential Women: Linda Merkling

ProSource Wholesale of Springfield

Posted online

Linda Merkling’s career path has followed a trajectory of leadership.

Merkling says helping others identify, develop and use their inherent strengths and talents is something she feels called to do.

“It is an honor to help people see their potential and drive them to be successful,” Merkling says.

Merkling draws a distinction between managing and leadership.

“A leader isn’t the same as a manager. Many can lead others through inspiration and success. At times in my career, I have led by example with my co-workers to encourage them to push to their full potential,” she says.

In her present role as general manager of ProSource Wholesale, she says her job is to guide employees, not manage them. Earlier this year, she opened the home improvement supply wholesaler’s first location in southwest Missouri.

“I see the strengths in each individual and guide them to excel in those areas and allow them to make mistakes,” she says, pointing to a few aspects: “Set expectations, hold them accountable and trust them to apply their skills; reward them for hard work, recognize their achievements and share their value to your organization.”

Merkling also has applied her leadership skills with the greater community through her involvement in civic and charitable organizations.

As a member and chair of the Council of Churches of the Ozarks’ board of directors, Merkling helped steer the nonprofit through the tumult of the COVID-19 pandemic and a series of staff changes while streamlining management of the eight outreach ministries under the Council of Churches’ umbrella. She also helped the nonprofit join the Great Game of Business for Social Sectors, which teaches open-book management to public and nonprofit organizations.

“I am amazed to daily see the positive changes that are happening through the Council of Churches in this community, through the generosity of so many in the Ozarks,” Merkling says.

In 2019, Merkling launched POWER, a group for women in business who are juggling roles as partners, parents, caregivers and professionals. The group, an acronym for Positive Optimistic Women Encouraging Relationships, is designed to help women achieve their goals while spinning many plates. Merkling says her goal was to create a safe space for women to build confidence, gain awareness of their own talents and learn to believe in themselves. In the first six months, Merkling says seven women advanced their careers or found healthier relationships. The group grew to 60 women meeting online and in person before monthly meetings were paused for the pandemic.

Other groups with which Merkling volunteers or is involved include Harmony House, United Way of the Ozarks, Boy Scouts of America Ozarks Trails Council, Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Ozarks, the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, the Home Builders Association of Greater Springfield and the National Association of Women in Construction.

Merkling says she enjoys building relationships with other community leaders.

“It is so exciting and inspiring to see so many successful women business leaders in our community,” she says.

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