Learning From Agency Beginnings (Part 2)

Satisfying a Financial Need

Michael Sackett started his agency last year after several years in outside sales for a distributorship. His agency, Aero Manufacturers Corp., Yorktown Heights, New York, serves the aerospace industry, a market he worked in for 16 years. “My major interest in going out on my own,” he explains, “was financial. Now with a little less than a year under my belt, I’d identify the major concerns I have as:

  • “Doing everything needed to get the business off the ground. The logistics of setting up the business have been challenging. Doing all the work of setting up bank accounts, getting insurance, and accounting service have presented different challenges from what I had been doing previously.”
  • “Getting the word out to customers and following up by visiting them. Certainly a help in getting this done is the fact my career had been established in the aerospace industry, and I’ve built up numerous contacts over the years. I do a lot of cold calling and networking to get the word out that I’m a rep.”
  • “And finally, meeting with principals and prospective principals. Presently I represent four product lines. In the near future I’d like to add two to three more lines that would complement the products I already represent.”

Hitting the Ground Running

Just as many reps before him, Thomas Gondi, Southern Market Share, Inc., Greenville, South Carolina, began his professional career on the manufacturer’s side of the desk. “I was the director of marketing for a manufacturer of scissor lifts. When they made the decision to move largely from a direct sales force to manufacturers’ reps, I spoke with them and was able to hit the ground running with their line. They are my main principal presently, although I do have four additional lines.”

He continues that a major benefit to him starting as a rep by representing his former employer resides in the fact, “since I worked for them, I knew them, knew the culture, customers and many of the other reps in the field. As a result, I was able to get several good customer leads from them.”

From the outset, Gondi says he has recognized the value of promoting his agency, but so far that promotion has been limited primarily to wordofmouth contact and networking efforts with fellow reps. “We’ve tried to maximize our time in front of customers rather than undertaking other methods to get our name out there,” he explains. One thing he has done to get the agency name in front of customers and principals, however, is the creation of a web site www. southernmarketshare.com. Prospective principals and customers can learn that: “Southern Market Share is an independent representative agency providing a communication gateway for material handling manufacturers and distributors. Covering the Southeastern United States, Southern Market Share represents small to mediumsized companies. We provide a practical method for organizations to effectively market their products. Some of the companies currently affiliated with us include Presto Lifts, RolLift, ErgotecH, AGF Equipment, Allied Modular, and Ergomat. With access to over 3000 distributors, Southern Market Share is setting new standards for the industry. To obtain additional information on our services, please do not hesitate to contact us.”

He adds that the web site accomplished a couple of goals including communication and marketing, and it allows him and his wife to take advantage of their expertise with computers. “It also allows us to project an image of an organization that is bigger than we really are.”

This article is the second in a three-part series on start-up advice from actual successful rep firm founders.

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