At the end of each summer, we ask our SIA field reps, (Dave Wray, Reddy Kennedy and Ed Wray) to highlight a few sales reps they think are up and coming in the industry. And every year, we love to hear those reps’ stories – how they got to where they are, their work ethics, their struggles and their triumphs. So once again, this August we present a look at some of the next generation of reps who really demonstrate the passion that drives success in this industry.
Miriam Mudrak lives in the Philadelphia PA area, and is the mid-Atlantic rep for Alp-n-Rock, Dale of Norway, Regina Boots, as well as selling her own brand, Wasem Designs. Tanner Rowe of Egg Harbor WI is the mid-western rep for Garmont Footwear, Combat Flips, Purnell Clothing, Sneeker Sheets, and Smelly Proof Storage Bags. Ben Dubay lives in Maple Grove MN and is the mid-western representative for Johaug gloves, Madshus skis, and Solda ski wax.
Here’s a glimpse into the lives of these rising stars of the sales rep world:
SIA: How did you get involved with being a sales rep, and how did you get to where you are today?
Miriam: On Black Friday 14 years ago, I walked into Danzeisen and Quigley in Cherry Hill NJ, and asked if they were hiring. I clocked in about 20 minutes later! I became Gretchen Quigley’s buying assistant, purchasing snowboard clothing. I loved it!! But after an amazing 5 years at D&Q I was itching to explore something new, and Chris Bremer offered me a position with him as a sub rep. I was interested in traveling, so Chris and I teamed up for 9 years selling Scott USA, Under Armour and finally Spyder. I could not have asked for better mentors in the ski industry as Bill and Gretchen Quigley and Chris Bremer. So much knowledge, passion for the business and diligence with customers! Last year, when I found out that my husband Adam and I were expecting our first little one, my husband quit his job and we took a leap of faith in starting our own sales agency. We now focus on more specialty European resort brands.
Currently, we represent Alp-n-Rock, Dale of Norway and Regina Boots. Adam and I also started working with Capranea of Switzerland last year–growing sales for the entire US. Our goal is to have Capranea at SIA in 2017!! We were able to work for the brands that we have by reaching out to some of the brands directly and some were passed down through other reps as territories shifted.
I also have my own design business, Wasem Designs. I design and hand sew one of a kind resort ski pillows, leather bags and belts. Currently selling in some of the top ski shops on the east coast and 2 high end resort stores in Switzerland. (The Rock Shop in Verbier and Lorenz Bach in Gstaad)
Tanner: I got involved in repping through my father. He had owned a ski shop in the 70’s and when he sold it he started repping for a number of brands including Marker Bindings, Olin and Elan Skis, Reflex poles and bikes and others, so I grew up in the industry helping out at sales, demo days, and shows!
In 2003 when I was a junior in college my father picked up a start-up line called Keen Footwear. The line grew fairly quickly and in 2005 there was a position open to enter into my father’s sales group as a Field Service Rep (FSR). This was a great opportunity to get into the industry because it allowed me to meet dealers in the territory and talk to them about product without the pressure of sales numbers and deadlines as a first priority!
My evolution into sales came as our brands grew and I transitioned into a sub-rep position under Buy Design Sales Group. I have now taken over the sales group as my father has retired.
Ben: I took a different route into repping than most. A few companies asked me to be their technical representative after I finished college, and that got me started in the business although I still had another primary job of managing a CNC machining company. I did that for a few years and Madshus had an opening that I applied for. With that, I started into being a sales representative, but still am running the CNC machining company as well. Representing Nordic companies has come very easy to me and I find it rewarding to grow and position brands in the market. I’ve been selectively adding brands to my product mix and am eventually going to form a representative group.
SIA: What is one of the most challenging things about your work?
Miriam: As a rep it’s challenging not finding enough days in the fall and winter months to squeeze in travel and home life. It’s a busy few months between clinics in September-October, Sales meetings in November and then trade shows from December through March! To top it off, at some point it seems we all grab a cold or bug through our travels. Christmas and New Year’s come and go very quickly in our business and we play catch up with family and friends in the summer. The other challenge that we have no control over is making sure we have great snow!!!
Tanner: The most challenging part of the job is managing ever tightening deadlines and trying to see and provide service for all of my dealers in a large territory with a fairly short time frame. This also makes for a balancing act when trying to make time for your family!
Ben: The most challenging part of it right now is the work/family balance. It is getting easier to achieve that, though, as the brands have grown and now that there is momentum behind them. Madshus has become the fastest growing Nordic ski brand in the Midwest, Solda is poised to explode, and Johaug is going to make a splash in its inaugural year.
SIA: What do you enjoy most about your job?
Miriam: The winter sport industry isn’t just about skiing, snowboarding and selling gear. To me it’s is about building relationships, sharing experiences and bridging the gap between the companies and the end consumer. The brands that we work for all have a story to tell and I love spreading the marketing stories and technology to employees and the end consumer. As a rep, I feel we have a chance to help shape the merchandising and culture in our dealers’ stores. I enjoy spending time with accounts and their customers to understand their needs and specific demographic.
Tanner: What I enjoy most about the job is making connections with all the great people in the industry, and of course, getting freshies in on the latest gear before anyone else has seen it!
Ben: There’s a few things actually. Seeing new products come to market is always intriguing. How they will be positioned and influence the status quo. Working directly with consumers and introducing them to a brand that they weren’t aware of that solves fit issues they may be having. Also, as I stated above, growing brands has been quite enjoyable as well.
SIA: Any last thoughts to add?
Miriam: Yes! This isn’t a job to me. It’s a lifestyle, it’s who I am. Ever since I can remember I have loved window shopping in Switzerland’s resort stores. (I’m dual citizen — I grew up traveling there once a year) and now I feel like I’m living a childhood dream as we bring the romance of the Alps and the backcountry style of The West Coast to our customers. It’s not about selling– it’s about spreading the passion, enthusiasm and lifestyle of winter sports!
A big thanks to Miriam, Tanner and Ben for taking the time out to share a bit of their insight into what it means to be a successful sales representative. Stay tuned to our new blog space, Snow Source, for Part Two of The Next Generation of Reps, featuring the Western Region, coming up soon!
Remember that reps at any stage of their career can find useful research, marketing and education resources at Snowsports.org/reps. And, as we all gear up for the season, make sure you stay on top of all the latest information about the upcoming 2016 SIA Snow Show by following #SIA16 on Facebook and Twitter.