Succeed and Grow

by Jerry Leth, Vice-President and General Manager, MANA

A main purpose of MANA is to help our manufacturers’ representative members succeed and grow their businesses.

A look at our membership shows significant diversity. Our largest member employs 53 outside sales employees, the average is five employees and 20 percent are one-person operations. Forty-one members started their manufacturers’ representative businesses within the past two years. Our average member started their rep firms 33 years ago and our oldest member started in 1918. MANA manufacturers’ rep members sell into diverse markets as well, from OEM accounts, reseller (wholesalers, distributors, retailers) accounts, government accounts and end-user accounts. We really do have a diverse membership.

Diversity exists in one other important area as well, and that is how professionally they operate their businesses. A significant number of our members rank high on the professionalism scale. Needless to say, they generate substantial orders for their principals and profits for their firms. When they retire and sell their businesses, they sell theirs for lots more than the others.

Want to improve your professionalism level? Your MANA membership includes resources that help. The issue, as we see it, is everyone is way too busy these days to engage in learning. While people may want to invest time to change what they do and how they do it, the pressures of daily life prevent them from accomplishing this goal.

What does it take to motivate you to make changes? The rational benefits of higher quality principals, higher profits, or higher value to the agency when you sell it? Or would it be the emotional benefits of a greater sense of security as profits grow, of a greater sense of pride in your accomplishments? Both? Compare these benefits against those you get from performing all the lesser activities that occupy so much of your time.

For example, do you spend time calling on customers with minimum potential for significant orders? What if instead you used the time to learn ways to improve your professionalism level? Once you make changes and your profitability increases, won’t you feel a lot better about what you did? You need to make changes if you expect results to improve. Continuing down the same path takes you to the same destination.

Make a commitment to access the learning resources in the member area of the MANA website and implement what you learn. You won’t regret it.

Jerry Leth, MANA’s vice-president and general manager, started as membership manager in August 2000. Previously, Jerry owned and operated Letco Tech Sales, Inc., a MANA member, multi-line professional outsourced sales agency he founded in 1989. Before starting his own agency, he managed a network of manufacturers’ reps as vice-president of sales and marketing for torque and tension equipment. Jerry graduated from Stanford with a mechanical engineering degree. He started his career at Hills Brothers Coffee in San Francisco in engineering and production before embarking on a sales career.