Why Should a Manufacturer Be a Member of MANA?

by Charles Ingram, VP of Sales & Marketing, Eriez Magnetics

“I’m a manufacturer, not a rep agency.
Why should my company join MANA?”

I hear this all the time. It’s a legitimate question, really. After all, the name of the organization is Manufacturers’ Agents National Association — MANA, for short. Seems like it’s an association just for reps. While that may have been its foundation, MANA is much, much more. It’s a terrific organization for manufacturers, whether you’re just exploring the strategy of utilizing reps as your sales channel or have been working with reps for decades.

Our company, Eriez Magnetics, has enjoyed the benefits of selling through independent reps since our very beginning in 1942. We’ve been MANA members for 28 years and find MANA membership for us as a manufacturer more relevant and valuable today than ever before. Here are just some of the reasons why:

Finding and Recruiting New Reps — Historically, this has been the number-one feature cited by manufacturer members. MANA is the premiere organization for truly professional rep agencies, so it follows that manufacturers will find the best rep candidates through MANA. The on-line rep search program, RepFinder®, is easy to use and can pinpoint manufacturers’ requirements by product or service classification and territories.

An additional benefit for manufacturers is LineFinder®, the on-line program that helps high quality reps find you.

Professional Development Resources — Videos, publications, teleforums and seminars just for manufacturers are available for all your key staff looking for best practices for quality principal-rep relationships. In my own case, I attended the MANA manufacturer seminar to learn how to establish and run an effective rep council. Our company’s rep council is now in its 24th year of helping us improve how we serve our customers with our rep organization.

Industry Trends — Selling through independent reps has changed dramatically over the years. The days of simply forwarding sales leads and printed literature to your reps is long gone. Principals’ and rep agencies’ selling strategies must be aligned to be most effective. The articles in this very magazine, Agency Sales, along with the many MANA publications available, have timely, relevant information about industry trends that help manufacturers evolve their relationships and business dealings with their reps to become a leading principal, an “A Line,” and stay there year after year. Want to get more selling time from your reps for your products? Be a regular reader of Agency Sales magazine for tips and trends in the rep business.

Networking — Manufacturers can learn a lot from each other about best practices working with reps. Fellow manufacturer members of MANA are your best resource for what might fit well with your company and rep organization. Over the years, I have had assistance from several manufacturer members with recruiting high quality reps, general business practices and rep support ideas.

Discounted Products and Services — Discounts on select hotels, car rental companies, term life and disability insurance, SuperShuttle transportation and on-line educational programs are all available to MANA members. MANA membership has its privileges!

As a manufacturer, we have found our investment in MANA membership to have tremendous value. You will too.

Charles H. Ingram, in a career spanning over 37 years, has served in management at several leading tool manufacturers as well as led factory-direct, distribution and independent manufacturers’ representative selling organizations throughout North America and abroad. Ingram is vice president of sales & marketing for Eriez Magnetics, which designs, develops, manufactures and markets advanced technology equipment for magnetic separation, vibratory applications, metal detection, and materials conveying and controlling applications from 11 manufacturing operations worldwide. He is the first manufacturer elected to the MANA Board of Directors. He received a bachelor’s degree in political science and history at Denison University, Granville, Ohio, and completed advanced management studies at the University of Tennessee.