enLIGHTenment Magazine is proud to present the recipients of our annual awards series honoring those individuals in our industry who have been nominated by their peers for leading by example, standing out in their field, and inspiring others.
How did you get involved in the lighting industry?
In 2000, I was a sales rep in the HVAC industry. One of the people I routinely played golf with on the weekends was John Carvey, a rep in the lighting industry. One Saturday morning he asked if I’d be interested in possibly working with him. I asked, “What do you sell?” When he said lighting, I still remember thinking, then responding, “Lighting!? Who buys lighting?!” And that’s how my career in lighting began.
What are some of the biggest challenges that you’ve seen?
I think the Internet has thrown the most changes and challenges at the lighting industry. It’s made our customers (hopefully) react to a channel that doesn’t show any sign of weakening. With our customers adjusting the way they do business, it’s made good representatives find ways to help our partners be profitable in this “lowest price/fastest delivery” society.
Technology has also been a rapidly changing tool for lighting reps. When I first started out, there were customers who had just started faxing in their orders and reps who didn’t have or give out their cell phone numbers. With all the technology that’s available with smart phones and tablets, a rep can accomplish so much more while working in the field than we could 16 years ago.
What has been the key to your success?
First and foremost, I need to acknowledge my wife and business partner Julie for helping me create and grow Gannon Sales Agency. I couldn’t have gotten to this point without her creative passion for the lighting industry and unwavering support. I truly feel my customers and manufacturers are partners with me in OUR success and I try to make the relationship mutually beneficial for all. Working hard has always been the first step, but remaining ethical – along with being consistent and reliable – are things I, as well as Gannon Sales Agency, have come to be known for. Respecting all parties involved and treating their business as if it were my own are big parts in what I feel makes me successful.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
Being positive and remaining positive is vital, no matter how bleak the outlook. Over the years – going from a sub-rep to an agency principal – I’ve faced my share of challenges. Whether it’s an economic downturn or a manufacturer closing their doors, remaining positive has kept me on track. It’s during these times that the relationships I’ve built in the industry always seem to come through.
I also have learned the importance of a work and life balance. If you don’t keep a healthy life outside of work, you can’t maintain a healthy life at work. We only get to go through this life once and learning the balance is vital.
Lastly, keep your lines of communication open and flowing with not only your customers, but your manufacturers. The more you are in constant contact, the more important you become and the relationships you’re building become strong!
What advice would you give to a young person considering repping as a career?
Embrace any and all things related to the industry and never stop putting the time in to further your knowledge of lighting. Join the ALA, ASID, and ART; get involved! And always have a pen handy.