John Eldred, President and Owner, Midwest Tape LLC

John EldredFinalist, Distribution

John Eldred’s entrepreneurial story begins more than 30 years ago, when he decided to open his first business — a video rental store in Toledo, Ohio, called Sights & Sounds. While building his company, Eldred looked for opportunities in other niches and industry segments that required media, including videotapes. This led him to launch a side business, Midwest Tape Exchange, to distribute new and used VHS tapes to other video stores as well as convenience and grocery stores.

As he learned the ins and outs of media distribution, Eldred noticed that there was a key segment that was being underserved in its supply of media: public libraries. And when video giant Blockbuster bought out Sights & Sounds in 1997, he had the opportunity to shift all of his focus to meet the demand for his side venture. Renaming the business Midwest Tape, he implemented a strategy to expand wholesale operations by concentrating on providing tapes for libraries with media.

As demand for digital content increases, Eldred makes sure MWT is always taking steps to meet new customer demand and figure out how the next product can be more innovative than the last. Key steps include expanding the company’s IT team to develop a new platform for distributing digital media to libraries as well as eliminating outdated media to make room for new product offerings.

Under Eldred’s leadership as president and owner, MWT also moved its operations to a 15,000-square-foot facility. With more space in which to grow, the company did exactly that, adding new employees as well as music CDs and audiobooks to its VHS and DVD product lines. Striving for long-term relationships, Eldred has successfully retained and grown relationships with all of MWT’s 500 original customers.

HOW TO REACH: Midwest Tape LLC,