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Dealer Appreciation

During my recent trip to Cabo San Lucas for Runco's annual dealer appreciation "Getaway," I was struck by the longevity and consistency of a few of the company's top sales performers.

During my recent trip to Cabo San Lucas for Runco’s annual dealer appreciation “Getaway,” I was struck by the longevity and consistency of a few of the company’s top sales performers. In an industry in which a lack of business acumen leads to an unusually high attrition rate, this was especially notable to me.

This being my fourth Runco Getaway, I have come to expect seeing Bill Anderson, Andrew Guenther, Greg Margolis, and Mark Ormiston step on stage to accept their performance plaques in Mexico. Because Runco is, arguably, the top video line in high-end custom installation, sales leaders for the Union City, California, company are in turn the best high-end install guys in the business. But how do they get the top and and stay there for so long?

Margolis, who has guided Dallas-based Hometronics to Runco Dealer of the Year (Single Location) honors in seven out of the past 10 years, told me one of his secrets to longevity. I referenced the fact that so many big names in the business tend to fail at business or simply burn out on the install side and move to manufacturing or consulting. One key, Margolis noted, was bringing on Bryan Cruikshank as a partner to run the business side of the operation. Until recently, Margolis said, Cruikshank simply carried a heavier load, allowing Greg to, for instance, attend events like the Runco Getaway. However, another recent management hire, has greatly improved Cruikshank’s quality of life as well.

When I asked Margolis if bringing on a business brain was the key he said, “Yes, and when I feel burned out, I know it’s time for a vacation. When I come back, I’m recharged.” Sounds simple, but I don’t think a lot of the custom business owners I know feel like they can ever get away long enough for a vacation. Maybe its Margolis’ combination of sharing the management load with Cruikshank and finding a proper work/life balance that keep him going strong.

Another top performer, year after year, is Bill Anderson of Genesis Audio & Video. Anderson credits at least some of his recent success to working with a Los Angeles-area charity for children. Initially he had helped a client donate older (but still top of the line) theater gear to a local orphanage, and this opened doors for him with the charity. He has since become an active participant in fundraising events and donates a portion of proceeds to the organization. Not only does this make Anderson and Genesis better citizens, but the side benefit is access to philanthropists who often become clients.

Another initiative that has helped Anderson maintain his longevity is his work with the interior design community. For years now, Bill has been a go-to guy for Residential Systems whenever we write stories about working effectively with the design community. Now, as CEDIA has also gotten on board with its Electronic Lifestyles Expo, some of what Anderson was already doing to cultivate relationships is being promoted wholesale. For example, CEDIA’s train the trainer classes are designed with the premise that CEDIA members can learn how to educate their local architects and interior designers who must earn continuing education credits to maintain their own association membership.

Anderson, in preparation for a recent presentation to his local American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) chapter, produced a very high-end DVD featuring a handful of IDs with whom he has worked on a regular basis. During a screening of the DVD at the Runco Getaway, we watched designer after designer describe the experience of collaborating on high-end home theater projects. Instead of Anderson blowing his own horn, he let his partners and the ID peers of his target audience, do the talking. It was quite impressive.

So there are many ways to make it in this business, and Margolis and Anderson are just two examples. However, I think they’re both on to something.