enLIGHTenment magazine is proud to present the winners of our annual awards 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 enter the lighting business?
I started out in the warehouse at [retailer] Progressive Lighting in Georgia and worked my way up to a Sales position. I loved the selling aspect of retail and working with customers and builders. I had been there for 17 years when Buddy Parker of BP Lighting Sales in Canton, Georgia, gave me the opportunity to become a sub-rep. I love to get in the car and drive, so it was a great fit. It’s a whole different world. I worked with Buddy for six years, and started my own agency in 2011.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve seen?
There is so much more technology today than there had been in the past. You can’t leave home without your cell phone or laptop. In addition, everyone is so busy these days that it can be hard for a rep to get enough time with customers. You want to show them everything, but they might only have a few minutes available. I think the hardest thing for reps to leverage today is time. Other changes have been in the order process. Years ago, reps would write more orders at market, but now a lot of retailers have become cautious so it might take several follow-up visits to finalize that order. Businesses are running a tighter ship when it comes to inventory control and they don’t want to over-commit.
What do you think has been the key to your success?
Customer service is important. [I try to] really listen to what customers are saying. It goes back to treating others the way you’d want to be treated. Customers will ask for a lot of things, but I try to never say no. Instead, I’ll figure out a way to solve their challenges and get back to them in a timely fashion. I try to do the best I can to help.
What does the future hold for lighting sales agencies?
I’d like to grow my agency, but not have [a team so big] that I wouldn’t be right on top of things. I make my rounds to customers on a regular basis in Georgia, Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle. It’s not the travel, but the little things like broken glass and RGAs that can bog down a sales rep. When I started my agency, I knew it would be a lot of work, but I just love this part of the business.