July '18

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with them, according to Charles Cohon, president and CEO of the Manufacturers' Agents National Association (MANA), a Morton Grove, Ill.-based nonprofit trade organization for reps and manufacturers in North America. It has about 2,300 mem- bers who are manufacturers reps and 750 members that are manufacturers. According to Cohon, manufacturer reps can serve a particularly beneficial role for small- and medium-sized suppliers that may not have the resources to field a sales- force of their own, or who want to extend their reach beyond what their existing sales team can cover. Using a manufacturer rep firm offers those companies the opportu- nity to share the cost of having a rep with other suppliers who carry complementary, noncompeting products, he says. "Instead of one manufacturer paying for an entire sales call, a number of them can share costs," Cohon explains. "Each manufacturer pays in direct proportion to the value received from the rep, because reps are paid on commission." Reps that find success, Cohon says, are the ones who not only look out for the suppliers (their direct clients), but also who work diligently to satisfy the needs of the retailers to whom they market. "They will not risk their reputation by bringing in a manufacturer that isn't good," he adds. "Reps are very conscious that they are accountable to the manufac- turer that they sell for, but also accountable to the customer." Rep firms in the RV industry come in all sizes and kinds, from single-person operations focusing on a few select prod- ucts in a small territory to large organi- zations fielding a nationwide salesforce and offering a wide selection of products. Recently, RV PRO spoke with four rep firms representing a cross-section of the market segment. Tom Manning & Associates Tom Manning says his firm – which serves both the manufactured housing and RV aftermarket segments across North America – focuses on marketing products that have a competitive edge measured by performance. "We rarely are the lowest price, but we most often are the highest value," he says. "There are others that do better at selling widgets and trinkets – like what you would normally think about salespeople. But, for the most part, our team has always taken on lines where their advantage for the con- sumer came from the performance side." High-quality products, Manning says, help dealerships grow their busi- ness. And by focusing on those products, his firm succeeds. Finding these products, he says, has meant maintaining strong relationships with the right suppliers/ distributors, which are willing and eager to drive the market with change. Tom Manning & Associates represents companies such as Air Lift, Xantrex, Voltec Industries and AP Prod- ucts (which also operates out of its offices). Having the right product and repre- senting the right suppliers means nothing if those who deal directly with consumers aren't knowledgeable about the products, according to Manning. Therefore, his firm also provides regular training and edu- cation to techs and counter salespeople, helping them to identify and offer prod- ucts that will solve customers' problems and meet their needs. These training sessions or seminars meet RV Industry Association standards, enabling it to issue continuing education credits to the technicians who attend, according to Manning. Sometimes, these sessions are conducted on a large scale in a local area; other times, the sessions are held at dealerships for a dozen or so people. "We can adapt to and accommodate a variety of circumstances," says Man- nings, whose firm has about 12 employees, some of whom split their time between Tom Manning & Associates and supplier AP Products. While his firm does attend retail events such as rallies and open houses, Manning says these events are not high on his com- pany's agenda. Instead, he says, his firm has been more effective at offering classes for consumers to help them understand the products on their coaches and how to recognize issues and have these addressed. Manning didn't start out in sales. He 84 • RV PRO • July 2018 rv-pro.com A F T E R M A R K E T Derema Group Enters RV Market By David MacNeal M arine manufacturer rep firm Derema Group announced its expansion into the RV after- market in February. "It's been great so far," says Chris deRecat, president of Derema. DeRecat and his brother bought the company, originally called R.J. deRecat Co. in 1958, from their father in 1990. They then merged it with Eastern Marketing Co. and Associ- ates, taking the "DER" from deRecat and the "EMA" and creating Derema. With decades of marine expe- rience, the RV market remained in Derema's purview, but the sales agency remained on the sidelines, studying it. "When we do something , we want to do it right, and we want to jump in with both feet," says deRecat. "So, we pondered (entering the RV market) for quite a while. We had the motivation to do this from some of the vendors that we represented on the marine side that also served the marine industry." Those companies include: Star brite, Promier, Magma, Seateak, WOW, RV Designer, and Flojet. Addi- tions continue to be made. "We work really closely with our manufacturers to develop products, programs, incentives, point of pur- chase – things that will separate their products on the dealer shelf," deRecat says. "So, our efforts at the dealer level are all around that." A d d i t i o n a l l y, D e r e m a d o e s in-house marketing and educa- tional video productions for its clients. And recently, the company launched the DeremaHelpRV App to instantly access the catalogs of clients, as well as tech bulletins and training videos.

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