TUG History


The United Group® (TUG) was formed in 1983 as a regional buying group, comprised of independent distributors of disposable products. Its Members received target-purchase discounts from Preferred Suppliers affiliated with the group.
During the 1980s, the group experienced strong growth and expanded nationwide. In 1990, United Group president Tobie F. McKown proposed a plan by which the Members would purchase the group over a period of 15 years, by the year 2005. The Members accepted the proposal.
As a result of their growing numbers, as well as increasing purchases from Preferred Suppliers, United Group Members earned enough in rebates to purchase the group on October 2, 1997 — eight years ahead of their goal. All of them became Member Stockholders, each with one equal voting share.
When TUG’s Member Stockholders gained control of the group, they became the designers of its destiny. Equal ownership among Members has helped bring strength and cohesiveness to the group, as Members have a vested interest in making the group succeed and actively supporting its goals.
The ownership model continues to attract new distribution companies to The United Group. As of September 30, 2012, more than 370 Stockholder Members and nearly 200 Preferred Suppliers comprised the group. Within TUG, every Member — regardless of sales volume or tenure with the group — has an equal voice in the group and an equal opportunity to participate in it.
In assessing the role played by member ownership in TUG’s success, President McKown emphasizes, "Unlike a person striving to achieve alone, The United Group is a venue for working together. It fosters team spirit, enabling our Member Stockholders to collaborate with Preferred Suppliers and our Preferred Suppliers to assist Members."