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188: So, What Do Rep Firms Actually Do?

Written by Rob Stott

October 10, 2023

rep firms Joaquin rivera by design vision and sound marketing

It’s a question that seems simple, but the misconceptions that are out there make it a much more difficult one to answer. To dive into the world of rep firms (and to clear up many of the misconceptions that exist) we turned to Joaquin Rivera, a custom integration industry veteran and co-founder of By Design Vision & Sound Marketing, to learn more about the role rep firms play.


 

Rob Stott: All right. We are back on the Independent Thinking podcast, jumping into I think a first of its kind appearance on our podcast. We get to talk to a rep firm, which … Hang with us. Right, Joaquin? Hang with us. People hear that word, it means something to some people. So we want to make sure we are doing our best here today to show off the awesome things. A world that very fun to dive into. Who better to do it with than Joaquin Rivera of ByDesign Vision and Sound Marketing, right?

Joaquin Rivera: That is correct.

Rob Stott: That Is correct. All right. Co-founder of that business. Are you coming up on a decade yet? 20, what, ’15, ’16?

Joaquin Rivera: 2014.

Rob Stott: ’14. I was close. I was in the ballpark.

Joaquin Rivera: Yeah. So about six more months.

Rob Stott: Okay. You’re getting there. See that? That’s awesome. Well, appreciate you taking the time and coming on the podcast. Nice to catch up with old friends in this industry, too, man. That’s always a good time for me.

Joaquin Rivera: That’s what this industry, I think, it’s all about, in most cases. I think it’s critical for a lot of people to understand that it’s not really about the product. I mean the product has to do its job, but it really comes down to the people. No one in this industry really goes anywhere else. They may go away for a few months and try something different, and then they realize that, “Hey, you know what? I miss it,” come back.

Rob Stott: I noticed that so often about this space, is that you think of the brands and the names that are out there, there’s some big ones, but at the end of the day it feels like it’s the same 100 people all talking to one another. Just, “Where are you now? And what are you doing? And who’s it for?” It’s always fun to have those conversations and catch up with people. Appreciate getting to do it with you today in a podcast setting. For those that don’t know, introduce yourself. Talk about your background and path to co-founding ByDesign for us.

Joaquin Rivera: I think I’ve had a blast in this industry. Not I think, I know for a fact. I started a while back, back in the ’90s, with Stewart Filmscreen. Of course, we were able to flourish Stewart Filmscreen. I believe that we did a great job with a team of not necessarily building the brand, because the brand was a very well-known brand in other markets, such as the film industry, government, simulation because of what it did.

I was a VP of sales there. It was a great learning experience. I was young. I was having fun traveling throughout the world hiring the distributors, reps. The distribution for all vertical markets that Stewart Filmscreen dealt with. As I said, a big factor compensating for me was the fact that I was able to create some really strong relationships with people throughout the world. That, to me, always means more than money. I had a blast doing that.

The downfall of that is that I was out on the road over 80% of the time. I would say close to 90. Because of course we had offices in other countries, Middle East, excuse me, Singapore, Denmark. And then we had distributors. Stewart has so many vertical markets that we had a lot of distributors throughout every country. If you think about it, just the one channel, which is the CEDIA channel, is extremely taxing. Meaning that there is a lot of opportunities. So dealing with that, InfoComm, all the variable markets, it was just at a certain point it became too much. I was just tired of traveling. I think that that’s one of the reasons why I started contemplating becoming a rep.

But yeah, been in this business since the ’90s, late ’90s. Feel lucky enough that I built a lot of good relationships and a lot of people that could actually give me guidance. As you know, we all have strengths and weaknesses. Being able to have friends that you can call on to, I guess, help out with your weaknesses became a big deal for me. It’s a loved industry, I think.

Rob Stott: Yeah, for sure. Well, it’s funny you mentioned that. I feel like we talked not long ago about all that travel and what it’s done. I feel like we’re almost back … It feels like back to that, right? It was around the pandemic and everything that that had done to travel. It feels like pre that, everyone was kind of getting … I feel like everyone had your feeling. There’s a lot of events, a lot of travel and a little fatigue. And then we all missed it. And then it got back to it. It was great to come out of it and start seeing people again. But now it’s like there’s a lot of interest in having events and things like that, and getting people to go. For brands and everyone in between, it can be a little taxing for all the requests of getting you to go to different things and whatnot.

Joaquin Rivera: Yes. As a manufacturer, of course, you not only need to go and hire and interview new distributors, new reps, but also you have to make the buying group events. There is a couple of those, a couple a year, per buying group. There is all the trade shows, whether it’s Simulation, InfoComm, CEDIA. We used to have a lot more training in this channel. That would include the CEDIA regionals. That would include other opportunities at other partners, such as for the projection screen would be … projector manufacturer would be put in events. Or back in the days there was a dealer in Seattle that used to do the definitive home theater event, which was, “It’s a must.” There were a lot more things to do back when I started. It was fun, but at the same time, as I said, it was taxing to your personal life and the body.

Rob Stott: Yeah, for sure.

Joaquin Rivera: But it was fun.

Rob Stott: Yeah. Yeah. Talk about that decision to go out on your own, what that was like into the rep world and do what you’re doing, and start ByDesign.

Joaquin Rivera: I was not tired of what I was doing because I love what I did, but as I said, I was tired of all the traveling. Interestingly enough, I was trying to figure out what I was going to do next. At that point, I landed in … I remember vividly, I landed in Florida to go and work with one of our reps in that area, a residential rep. Then one of my residential reps in Southern California calls me up. He had been my rep forever. At that point it was MK Marketing.

Mike Kavanaugh calls me up and says, “Hey, I need to give you my 30 day notice.” Of course that kind of was shocking because he was, most of the times, the rep of the year. So I asked him, “What did we do wrong?” He’s like, “Oh, no, I’m actually becoming Savant.” At that point, he was closing his doors. I started interviewing reps for the territory and overnight something just hit me. It was like, “Why don’t you do it? You stay in the industry. Your travel is going to be cut back by 90%. You get to deal with manufacturers that you enjoy dealing with.”

That was on a Friday night. About probably 11:00, I started creating my business plan. On Saturday I had a meeting with Benito. I asked him, “Hey, I’m doing this. I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to pay you. So because of that, I’m willing to give you part of it if you come with.” He agreed to that. On Monday, I gave Stewart Filmscreen my two weeks notice. But I did ask if I could interview for the line, for the territory. That was agreed upon. Of course, then, I got two more lines. That started ByDesign. At the beginning it was Benito and myself dealing with Southern California, Arizona, Vegas, and Hawaii. That was almost 10 years ago. It’s come a long way.

Rob Stott: Well, I love, too, that you remember down to the day and time of how it all came together. Not even just that, but how quick it is too. The fact that it came together almost over a weekend. That’s incredible to me.

Joaquin Rivera: Yeah. It was scary because, of course, I … When you work for a manufacturer, it was good pay and you know exactly how you’re going to spend your money. When you’re going to go on your own, you don’t know where that pay is going to come from.

Rob Stott: Right.

Joaquin Rivera: But you know, though, as I said before, I pride on being able throughout the time to have built some really strong relationships. I reached out to a couple of our business partners, dealers and asked for advice. Till now, they are still around giving me advice. So it’s worked out. It’s honestly worked out, I would say like a dream. It’s not a job for everybody, but to me it’s a perfect fit, to a certain degree.

Rob Stott: That’s awesome. We’ll get into the why’s, but what kind of … When you think about what ByDesign stands for and what you’re doing today, is there any sort of differentiator for what you do as opposed to other firms that are out there? Even if it’s one territory versus another. Just something that you guys do differently that you think separates you and sets you apart.

Joaquin Rivera: I think in our territory, it does. I would say that, excuse me, it’s challenging to answer that, but one of the things that we do, we manage projects. Meaning that all of the brands that we have create a puzzle. So we manage a project. Our other partners or rep firms around, they do an amazing job of managing brands. How is that different? For us, as I said, I believe that brands definitely matter, but I think that, in many cases, if you have a product that fits or has a little bit more flexibility than others, that will give you a very good chance in custom projects. So all the brands that we … Well, not all the brands, but most of the brands that we have has that differentiation that we enjoy, that it allows us to be very custom per se.

Meaning, for example, if it is a projector, most projectors you would have to have center of the screen With ours, you could put the projector all the way on the side. You mount it up with mirrors. You have a whole lot of flexibility on positioning, therefore you have flexibility on design. Positioning as well as brightness. So we’re always looking for that uniqueness on a brand. I’ll tell you, that was critical for us. I’ve always liked a differentiator, right?

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Joaquin Rivera: I always believe that the customers that our dealers work for, yes, they are unique, they want to be different. So how can we, with a brand, help to differentiate them?

Rob Stott: Right.

Joaquin Rivera: That, to me, it’s always been critical. It allows us to market ourselves in a certain way that it becomes, to a certain degree, memorable.

Rob Stott: Yeah. That kind of, I think, gets at what I was going to ask next. I think still interesting to hear … it will be interesting to hear your approach to this. Whether it’s you going out looking or a brand approaches you, as far as figuring out whether it’s a brand that you want to … I mean, you guys got, you mentioned it, an impressive portfolio of brands. They all fit a need within that custom integration space. You can look at it from end to end in any project. I love your analogy of a puzzle. It fits perfectly. No pun intended. It fits perfectly into what an integrator would want to do in a home. When you’re evaluating a brand, is there certain things you look for to determine whether it’s one that you want to add to that portfolio?

Joaquin Rivera: Oh, definitely. As I said earlier, we’re a little bit different. So we are always looking for that. First of all, that brand has to fit that puzzle because, of course, later on, hopefully we could get into the business side. But a rep cannot afford to have that many brands that make no sense. Every brand has to be part of a solution. So when you come to one of your business partners, you can give them one solution, not a whole bunch of brands. The reason for that is of course it makes it easier to sell, but also, it makes it easier for your sales team to get good at all the brands. Because, of course, you have to know the why of that one brand. Of course, a perfect fit on the brand.

Also, we’re looking for the uniqueness of the brand because I am extremely proud of our line card. It’s only been almost 10 years, but the line card that we have is for a firm that has been around for a long time, I believe. So a perfect fit not only on the brand, but also, though, the people. To us, as I said before, it’s all about the people. If we don’t work well with the sales manager, then it doesn’t work for us.

Because, at the end of the day, we like to introduce our sales managers to the dealers because we want that connection. It’s so much easier to ask the manufacturer, “Hey, Mark has a need for this, can you help?” If the manufacturer knows Mark, immediately they will jump at helping. So we want to make sure that the people could actually connect. That helps us a great deal. Overall, the brand has to be not just a brand, but it has to be a package. Meaning that the package, it’s not just the product, it’s the product, it’s the people, it’s the how it fits within the package that you want to deliver. As I said earlier, I am extremely proud of the brands that we carry, the line card.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Joaquin Rivera: We have amazing relationships with every single one of those manufacturers. We’ve gotten really, really lucky.

Rob Stott: No, it’s awesome. I mean, you mentioned it, it looks like one for … Crazy to think you’ve only been around not even a decade, looking at the names that are on that brand page, for you guys. It makes me want to dive deeper, but before we do, I want to kind of go back. For those that have been listening to this point and wondering to themselves, “Well, what is a rep firm? What do they do?” For the listeners out there that might not be aware or understand, I want to go back to the basics by asking you, what is the role of a rep firm, today?

Joaquin Rivera: It’s definitely change over the years. At a certain point … This is why this is, I believe, is critical for our channel to understand what reps do. And, of course, how to utilize the reps more. The job for the rep firm is … now it’s not as simple, but it’s supposed to be to qualify dealers. Meaning that we have multiple brands.

Let’s say you take one brand and let’s say you have 400 dealers in your territory, that brand, you’re not going to be able to sell to every integrator. It’s not a fit with everybody. Some will sell higher-end products, so that brand may not be a fit. Or some will have a relationship over the years with other brand. So they will not be able to support it financially. So that’s not a good fit, anyhow. So the goal is for the rep to qualify a business partner.

Now, once you qualify it, onboard them, train them, keep them informed, and make sure that you get involved with them on projects, especially at the beginning as they are learning the brand, to make sure that there is no mistake made. On top of that, of course, we’re supposed to go in there and give them marketing materials. Make sure that they understand if there’s any kind of specials, or make sure that if there is an issue.

Many manufacturers have different departments according to what it is. If it’s accounting issue, there is a certain person that you call for accounting. RMAs, production, sales. So anyhow, the dealer’s job is extremely difficult. I believe that they’re artists. The reason for that is because you are taking 50 products, brands, that unfortunately, in our channel, none of the brands want to work cohesively. They all want to have their own little thing. So it seems like they’re working against each other. Well, the dealer has to be able to put that puzzle together and make it fit perfectly. Otherwise, if it’s off a little bit, you will not be able to control or achieve what the end user wanted.

Rob Stott: Right.

Joaquin Rivera: By doing that, which we believe is extremely challenging, we want to make sure that they don’t have to learn all those 20 contacts per manufacturer. Just call your rep. Whatever issue it is, call your rep. It just becomes efficient. One of the things that also is not necessarily, perhaps, understood, that rep is getting paid whether you use them or not. That’s if you’re selling the product.

Rob Stott: Right.

Joaquin Rivera: But the rep has your best interest at hand. Believe me. Because their job is to make sure that you’re successful. Because if you don’t sell it, they’re not eating. So their job is to help the dealers grow. There is nothing else. It’s to make sure that their dealers grow. That’s an additional employee that the dealers have. So I think that they should be taking advantage of that.

Rob Stott: Yeah. I mean, we kind of, I think, talked about this, too, in the past. It almost feels like, as a buying group, we’re sitting here in between manufacturers and dealers. Offering a lot of resources to the dealer to go out and do their jobs and perform well. Dealers join a buying group for certain reasons, to get access to product. It almost feels like from where we sit, you’re doing it just on the opposite end, right? You’re working with a bunch of vendors and manufacturers out there and getting their resources to dealers. It’s almost like we kind of sit in a similar seat, like helping with education, helping with the materials they need. It’s just from a slightly different … and obviously territorial based as well. So a lot of similarities and synergies, I think, between what … But for different purposes, like between what you’re doing and what a buying group’s doing. I mean, maybe for those out there, can you explain the difference?

Joaquin Rivera: Well, I don’t know if there’s a whole lot of a difference there as well, though, because if you think about it, there’s two ways to go to market for manufacturers. One way would be direct and the other one through independent reps. Now, the challenges of being direct, now you have to have the sales force. Their pay is going to be the same pay … Whether you sell or don’t sell anything, that person is getting paid. Secondly, that person has one brand to go and knock on dealers’ doors. So the dealers are busy. If they’re busy, they’re just busy with jobs. They’re busy. If they’re not busy, they’re busy out there trying to sell and fill up the pipeline. Of course, not only do you have one brand, but if you want the dealer’s attention, that brand has to be continuously changing in order for them to make the time to understand what’s new.

A independent rep only makes a percentage of what is sold. That’s a big factor. Secondly, they have older brands that are, in most cases, critical to their business partners. For example, a business partner, if he calls you for a screen, for a theater per se, all right, we then talk about Cinema Tech, then we talk about Barco, then we talk about Stewart, then Pro Audio, then … So it’s not just one brand, it’s the entire package. Because of that, you become, to a certain degree, one brand brings the other one in. Because of that, when we bring a new brand, “Hey, by the way, I know we’re talking about this brand, but we just started representing this brand and I think you should look at it because A, B, C, D and F.”

A buying group, your job and my job are almost the same. Because at the end of the day … Well, your outside salespeople. At the end of the day, you are asking dealers to sell more so they can save more.

Rob Stott: Right.

Joaquin Rivera: But at the end of the day, guess who’s responsible to achieve those sales? The outside sales firms.

Rob Stott: Yep.

Joaquin Rivera: Okay. So you want our goals to be achieved, but when you are doing an event, reps are not there.

Rob Stott: Right.

Joaquin Rivera: No offense on a sales manager because most of the times they have a big chunk of the country, but they’re not up to speed with all the projects. So the conversation in most cases will be a bit more about, “Hello, how are you?” A very high level conversation.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Joaquin Rivera: If the rep was part of that conversation, then now you can talk about projects. Now you become a sales productive meeting. I think everybody wins at that point.

Rob Stott: Yeah. No, that makes sense.

Joaquin Rivera: We kind of do the same thing. We share. I think that because of that, if we could all push the same direction, with the same agenda, we could actually achieve what manufacturers are asking for, and that’s the big deal for the dealers as well.

Rob Stott: Right. I mean, they’re all looking to get their product in front of people at the end of the day. So the more people they have out there talking about them and helping dealers understand the importance of product A, product B, whatever it might be, it’s just more resources in the field for that manufacturer. And then at the end of the day, it’s the dealer too. They’re able to offer a solution or a package, a full puzzle if you will, to their customers and their markets. At the end of the day, they’re winning because they have a customer who’s happy, that they’re able to complete a project for. You bring it back to the manufacturer, they’re happy because their product is in that consumer’s home now. It becomes a win-win, right, for all involved?

Joaquin Rivera: That is correct. I think that unfortunately, though, and I appreciate you guys making the time for this, because we do need to address, as an industry, we do need to address the positioning of independent sales reps. We go way back, I was pretty involved with iPro back in the days when I was at Stewart Filmscreen, because I do believe … As I said before, I was one individual managing the whole world in a whole bunch of vertical markets. I was not a salesperson. My salespeople were my independent reps. For manufacturers in our channel, I only know one manufacturer that was successful at going direct. There is not one brand that has been successful going direct in our channel that is around.

There’s many reasons behind that. As I said before, a rep already works with a certain amount of integrators. As soon as they have the line, they’re not going to overnight start selling a lot. But overnight, all of their reps … excuse me, all of their dealers are going to be aware that that brand exists. And then they’re going to start to do trainings, whether it’s at their facility, or start choosing dealers to go through the dealer that you think it’s going to be a fit with.

Rob Stott: Right.

Joaquin Rivera: So that is going to … Well, first of all, the manufacturer, if they go direct, it just would probably take a lot of time.

Rob Stott: Yeah. I mean, lean into the resources that are out there through groups or firms like ByDesign that are there to support. Put your tentacles in areas of the country and regions where, if you have reach or not, it’s just more support out in the field for you and makes it … I’m curious, you’re doing the work today. You obviously have experience in the past working with firms, like you mentioned, your time with Stewart. You even mentioned, I think word for word, that the role has changed of the rep firm. So what was it like back then when you were working at Stewart? What was the role of the rep firm then and how is it different from what you’re out there doing today?

Joaquin Rivera: I think that we knew, as I said, that the rep’s job was to do … Well, first of all, as a manufacturer you depend on your rep to bring you … or make a match with the right business partner. That is so critical to make that match. That I think is being taken from granted now. So you make that match, and then you do the onboarding and you do the training. Now, we got hit with a couple of financial, let’s say, recessions, right?

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Joaquin Rivera: At that point, everybody cut back, whether it is in marketing, whether it is in order processing, or technical support or training. That was really never brought back from manufacturers.

Also, back in the days, every integrator, to become a dealer, they had to go in with most manufacturers. You had to go away for a three day training. You had to buy product to do a showroom. And now, at least in Southern California, there is no showrooms any longer. I would say there’s probably eight in the entire territory. It may be because it’s freaking expensive.

Rob Stott: Right.

Joaquin Rivera: That hurts us. Also, there used to be a lot from manufacturers. There used to be a lot of training going on. Not only the city or regionals, they were pretty effective, but also, let’s say, the good old days, Sam Runkle. He used to have nine trainings, residential trainings. DPI used to have a whole bunch of trainings. Sony. Stewart Filmscreen had nine. ISF, Joel Silver was all over the place. He had a … in the army, training on ISF. Joe Kane Productions. Joe Kane used to be doing trainings. All the manufacturers used to do trainings. Right now, there really isn’t any. So, all that, the rep has to lift that because you can’t have an ignorant business partner, because then there’ll be mistakes. If there is mistakes, there is more burden on all parties. The rep has to be involved. The manufacturer has to replace products. The dealer who’s going to lose time and lose credibility, and money. I think that all that, if you don’t have a showroom, now the rep has to carry product to go and do a demo. The problem is that if you’re doing a demo at an end user’s home, as an example, it’s not a controlled demo. You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. You’ll do it, but it’s not necessarily … most of the times it’s not going to end up in a positive.

Rob Stott: Right.

Joaquin Rivera: Yeah, I think that it’ll end up in a sale because the end user gets impressed that you actually took the time to do it, in many cases. But again, though, if you have it in a showroom, then you could actually control the environment and do it right. So all that now lays on the rep. I think the accounting part, we are very strict of that, with our manufacturer. We tell them, “We’re not doing collections for you. We just don’t do that.” I think that that’s because we don’t want our business partners to think, “Oh, this guy is trying to call me to collect.” We don’t want to build that kind of relationship.

Rob Stott: It goes back to the relationship and wanting to maintain that strong relationship. Obviously on the manufacturer side, but the business partners and dealers that you work with have to understand the importance and the value. Seeing it, I think, too, you mentioned that education. That kind of puts I think a bigger emphasis on the importance of having a strong relationship with your rep firm because they can be the one … they become the go-to for that education. If it’s not out there, you’re there to provide it. Whether they’re coming to you or you’re proactively going to them offering, or letting them know about educational opportunities that exist, right?

Joaquin Rivera: That is correct. I’ll tell you, I mean, in many cases, a lot of the new dealers, they’re not used to, perhaps, the certain amount of education. Our job is to let them know. Communication, right? Some dealers are like, “Stop emailing me about this.” I was like, “No, I can’t. If you want to …”

Rob Stott: You’re not going to hear about it from anywhere else.

Joaquin Rivera: Honestly, I don’t think it’s selfish. It’s the fact that if the dealer is educated, they’re going to sell not only more projects, but higher-end projects. They don’t have to be high end, it’s just to fit what the end user is trying to achieve.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Joaquin Rivera: So it’s good for them. As I said earlier, everything that we do, and this is not at all a statement that is untrue, everything that we do is with one purpose, and that’s to make integrators more successful. That’s the only way that we are going to be successful. We may come across differently, but at the end of the day, all we want is for the integrator to be successful. If they somehow understand that, I think that they would make the job of a rep easier.

Rob Stott: Yeah. The job of the rep, I think, and we’ve had this conversation before, too, just how there’s some misconceptions out there. Kind of alluded to that at the top. I want to give you kind of the chance, what are some of the biggest misconceptions out there that exist? I kind of want to give you the floor to clear them up, if you will.

Joaquin Rivera: Certainly. As I said earlier, look, I’ve been … sometimes it’s frustrating, but I’ve been lucky enough that I was able to build some strong relationships with other reps. The old timers, like Dave Thomas, Peter Dyroff. I’m saying old timers because they’ve been in business for a long time. Brett Biederman.

Anyhow, throughout the country, I’ve been blessed to have some really strong guidance because it does get frustrating. I think in our industry, everything … I’m not blaming it on CEDIA, but I think that they have a strong responsibility on this, that everything that you see highlighted, it’s going to be manufacturer and dealer completely avoid the rep and distribution, and in the middle now, buying groups.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Joaquin Rivera: You have to make sure that your car has … I mean, hopefully, your car has four wheels, but all four wheels have tires. So the process, it’s driving the same direction, or it’s easier to drive your car. What I’m saying is that a lot of newer dealers do not understand, one, as I said earlier, all we want is for them to be successful. Two, they believe that if we’re in part of the equation that their cost is going to be higher. They’re like, “No, no, no, I want to be direct.” Well, it’s my job. The job of the rep is to qualify the dealer. If he believes that it is the right dealer, that dealer application gets approved. If he doesn’t believe that he’s the right partner, that dealer application is going to get denied.

Anyhow, a lot of the times, I think dealers just don’t understand that, but it’s because there’s a lack of education from our channel. Or a lack of, perhaps, exposure. Because of that, when you go and knock on a door, there’s a lot of dealers that are not … you really have to prove yourself in order for them to open up to you.

Rob Stott: Right.

Joaquin Rivera: That’s wasted time. If everybody was to understand what, I guess, we want to achieve, I think that it would be a lot easier to get that door open.

Rob Stott: Yeah. I want to give you the chance, too, in the closing moments here. We’ve talked a lot about it. I think people listening, you kind of … there’s a lot that you do that is not necessarily understood. So if you had to boil it down … To your point about, a dealer should understand what the goal is you have in mind. If you had to boil it down to that one statement to prove to them sort of where you fit in the equation and why you fit in the equation, what would you say? What would be that statement that you’d give them to hopefully get over that initial conversation and get that time back?

Joaquin Rivera: I think that partnership. They have to understand that the manufacturer’s manufacturing stuff. The rep is making you aware of everything that is going on and will help you … There’s a lot of reps that are extremely smart when it comes to business. Also, they have their relationships with another 400 accounts that do exactly what you do as a dealer. So they learn from other dealers, and they could guide the dealer. As I said before, all we want is we want to help that dealer become a solid business person. So we could get the benefits from that as well. So I think partnership. A good business partner is what you should be thinking of your independent rep every time that you see him come by.

Rob Stott: No, that’s awesome. I mean, you are essentially the eyes and ears to over a dozen different brands for that dealer. So you want to talk about … I know, kind of bringing it full circle, you talk about saving time. You’re not having to go off to talk to one individual person who’s there representing one brand. You’re talking to an entire package while you’re in their stores. Not only education, of course, but saving them time by giving them access to that entire line card while you’re there in their location, or there talking to them.

Joaquin Rivera: I would say the entire solution. I mean, because you’re talking about power, you’re talking about lighting, you’re talking about all throughout the home entertainment, whether it is video, audio. So we have a complete package. Most reps will. We could save the dealers a ton of time. They could become so much more efficient if they get the rep involved. Again, keeping in mind, as I said, and I’ll say it again, we just want the dealers to be successful.

Rob Stott: I love it.

Joaquin Rivera: Yeah.

Rob Stott: That’s awesome, man. Fun conversation. One that I knew we wouldn’t have any problems filling up some time. I appreciate you taking the time and shedding the light. It’s one that, to your point, it doesn’t get talked about enough. Certainly happy to at least initiate the conversation and start it moving in the right direction.

Joaquin Rivera: I tell you, as an industry, we need to do something about it because there is a lot of territories that our reps got older, and they retire and there’s no one coming behind it. Of course, perhaps it is time to adjust the pay infrastructure.

Rob Stott: Right.

Joaquin Rivera: A lot of manufacturers are going to be hurting if we run out of reps. There’s not that many territories where there is young rep firms coming. So if it’s coming to an end, manufacturers have to do their own sales in certain territories. That keeps them … Overall, it’s not beneficial for the industry.

Rob Stott: No. Important point, for sure. Starting to have these conversations now, hopefully, problems that can be avoided down the road. One of many. We’ll be talking again, for sure, I feel. Something tells me that might be happening. Joaquin, I appreciate it, man. This was a lot of fun diving into this with you. Like I said, I’m sure we’ll be doing it again.

Joaquin Rivera: Well, thank you for making the time, my friend. I appreciate you.

Rob Stott: Absolutely.

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