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Working with Manufacturers’ Rep Firms

AWA’s Andy Spolar and Austin Wendt discuss the how’s and why’s of working with a manufacturers’ rep firm.

AWA’s Andy Spolar and Austin Wendt discuss the how’s and why’s of working with a manufacturers’ rep firm.

AWA – Andy Poplar
Andy Spolar

What is the benefit of working with a manufacturer’s rep as opposed to working with a distributor or buying direct?

It is really not an “opposed to” situation, as distributors and direct-buying dealers are our customers, too. We consider ourselves more brand evangelist to bridge the gap between the two types of dealer-buying habits — factory to dealer direct, or distribution to dealer. Ultimately, we are the local product experts that engages the dealers on behalf of the distributor or manufacturer. From there we can provide the dealers local support (in many different capacities) regardless of where they are buying from.

How do you choose which manufacturers to represent? Can integrators make requests?

The process of vetting a new manufacture for AWA plays into three categories:

  1. Synergy: Is there synergy between the new manufacturer and what we are currently representing?
  1. Opportunity: A lot goes into the evaluation of “opportunity.” Does the manufacturer have existing business or are they a startup company? What is the landscape of competition for this product or products? How is the product sold? What is the current go-to market/sales strategy for this company?
  1. Partnership: We feel to be successful as a manufacturer you should have a clear and concise understanding of how of independent reps operate their territories. There needs to be a consistent understanding of the expectations between rep to factory and factory to rep.

Integrator recommendations can happen from time to time. If a direct-to-dealer customer is looking to make a change or add independents firms, then they will ask some of their top-buying integrators in a market who they feel is the top choice. If a manufacturer sells through distribution, then they typically ask the local wholesalers who the best rep is for the territory.

AWA Austin Wendt
Austin Wendt

How much training does the AWA team receive when new products are released, or a new client is added?

Typically, when a new product is released, we are informed by the manufacturer and then we communicate that out to the field. We take a different approach to our internal rep trainings. As stated earlier, we are the product experts, so we bring in new products to AWA’s showroom to test and train our reps. From there we will take the demos out to dealers’ offices or invite them to our showroom/training center.

New customer training can happen a multiple ways — dealer office, AWA showroom, or we have even been called out to assist on a jobsite for the first install of the products we represent.

How much contact does AWA have with the dealer after the sale?

One of the biggest components to AWA is support you when you need it. We are here to support the integrator anywhere from pre-sales design to post-sale installation. The goal is to create repeat business for our products from our dealers. That is why we will assist post sale with a myriad of things from dealer programming assistance to end-user overview and trainings.

How would you recommend dealers vet and choose the right reps in their area?

This is always a tough one because sometimes you have to do business with a rep based on the lines they are contracted with. If there are “like products” that the dealer is choosing between, then the main tipping point comes back to support — and, like in marriage, it needs to be in good times as well as bad. Unfortunately, there is no Angie’s List for reps, so dealers get reps based on what products they like, or dealers choose reps based on who is supporting and helping grow their business.

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AWA Opens New Showroom

AWA recently had a grand opening celebration for its redesigned showroom. Click on the gallery below to see the various demo areas.