Category 6 Independent or Factory Sales Rep of the Year

Category 6 Independent or Factory Sales Rep of the Year

First place: Brian J. Clarke and Gary Bell, The Clarke Connection, New Hartford, CT

Customer Concern, Genuine Commitment Make Rep Duo a Winning Combination

It was quickly obvious that the "rep" in Bell and Clarke's job title had plenty to do with reputation and that the plethora of impressive reviews was a good indication that we'd found a pair of worthy winners for Category Six of K&BDN's 2001 Industry Leadership Awards, Independent Factory Sales Rep of the Year.

In addition to praise for their hard work, dedication and positive attitudes, Clarke and Bell were also repeatedly cited for their concrete contributions to their customers' continued success. 

As Debra Reale of Bergeron Kitchen & Bath, Inc. notes, "Gary is always coming into our showroom to introduce any new products that have become available. He always takes the time to train and educate our new employees by having product seminars, after business hours, to ensure that we are fully knowledgeable in his product lines. He immediately addresses any problems we have in the field and proceeds to do whatever it takes to resolve the problem, finish the project and make sure the customer is happy. And, he has phenomenal follow up values."

Grant Scott, of Acorn Kitchens Limited, cites additional contributions that the pair has made to his business: "[Gary and Brian] have developed and implemented programs to increase our market share. They've established long-term business relationships. They serve on Acorn's Rep Council. They are number one for largest volume increase in one year, and number one in establishing new accounts. They train our dealer personnel and motivate our salespeople. They help in design and ordering displays, as well as expediting dealer needs and correcting problems." Finally, and most importantly, "They maintain the highest level of service for the customer and myself," he concludes.

More rave reviews come from Brian Edinger of the Duncanville, TX-based Quality Cabinets, who says, "Gary and Brian are continually developing new marketing programs for their customers. They are always creating custom designed literature and presentation packages for each specific customer and their builder needs. And, they are constantly creating marketing tools to aid in the promotion of our products with customers."

If there's one thing that dealers seem to agree on, it's that the very best reps are more than just reps; they're partners in creating a successful business. As Timothy Holick of the Middleboro, MA-based Wood Palace Kitchens, Inc. notes, "It is not common in any trade for a rep to care about his customer as Gary does most just care about how much product you sell. Gary cares about how he can help you. This is very unique."

Peter Genovese of the Cos Cob, CT-based Putnam Kitchens agrees: "Brian's bottom line has always been how to improve my business not just his sales. His creativity and endless optimism are contagious, and my sales staff feels they have unlimited potential with him behind them. We feel we no longer have a sales rep calling on us, but, rather, a business partner."

2nd place: John McCarty, Tierney & Associates, Springfield, IL

Rep Goes 'Above and Beyond' as True Partner

When talking about the best reps, kitchen and bath dealers invariably have a story. In the case of John McCarty, of the Springfield, IL-based Tierney Associates, there are plenty of stories. And they're all impressive ones.

As Tony Piazza, of the St. Louis, MO-based RSI Kitchen & Bath notes, "On one occasion, we had a customer concerned that her roll-out trays were not functioning smoothly. John voluntarily visited the customer's home with a vacuum to clean all eight roll-outs." 

Another time, Piazza recalls, "A customer had ordered a set of Omega Cabinets with a glazed finish, and [when it came in] the customer felt that the glaze was not dramatic enough. John went to the home, removed all of the doors, drive them six hours north from St. Louis to Waterloo, Iowa so they could receive additional glazing, then had them fedexed to the customer's home a week later where John re-installed all the doors."

Piazza also cites McCarty's accessibility and commitment, noting, "John's home and office are more than two hours away, yet he visits our showroom three times per week, attends customer site visits at least once a week, and often helps to expedite an order or special need through the factory."

3rd place: Marty Klie, Elm Mfg., Denville, NJ

Rep's Responsiveness Wins Dealers' Trust

Factory sales rep Marty Klie of the Denville, NJ-based Elm Mfg. understands that being responsive is how you win clients' trust and their continued business. With this in mind, he's built a track record of success, winning clients' approval with his responsiveness, approachability, and constant willingness to do what needs to be done.

According to Thomas Villante, of the Riverdale, NJ-based CustomCraft Product Co., Inc., Klie's genuine concern for "doing things right" is what makes Klie unique. 

In fact, Villante notes, "Of all the factory reps I've had in the past 32 years, none have done, or are doing, the job that Marty Klie has done."

In citing his strengths, Villante notes that, "He constantly stays in touch and keeps us informed. And when something comes up that needs attention, he is right there with a phone call or in person." In short, Villante says, "He is extremely responsive. He makes it very easy to deal with the factory, which makes it easier to do business with our clients."