What do you do in your position at SAGE?
As the director of sales, I’m responsible for supporting both the supplier and distributor sales teams to streamline processes, products, and services to better serve our customers. I have two of the best sales managers that help drive the necessary day-to-day tasks, training, and support to ensure the sales teams are working to meet our customers’ goals.
What was your first job? Did it teach you anything that you still use today?
Well, my first job was when I was 16 years old at Chuck E. Cheese’s. Yes, I was Chuck E. Cheese. I wore the mouse suit and danced around for the birthday parties. When not getting mauled by the kids, I would make pizzas back in the kitchen. A couple life lessons came from that job. One, I knew I needed to focus on school and get a good college degree, I did not want to be a dancing mouse for the rest of my life. On the other hand though, I learned to always have fun with whatever I was going to do. You have to make the most out of your experiences.
What attracted you to the promotional products industry?
I’ve been in the promotional products business over 15 years now. I started as a sales manager for a supplier here in Texas that manufactured blank items for the awards and recognition industry and finished imprinted items for the promotional products industry. I fell in love with the industry, it’s so much fun! I got to travel around the country selling cool products. It’s almost like being a glorified circus carny. Just going from city to city, show to show, setting up and tearing down. So many great people.
When I finished graduate school, I knew I had to look for other opportunities within the industry. Luckily, PPAI was also here in Texas, and it was the perfect opportunity for me to broaden my industry experience as their manager of business development. It was such a privilege to be able to learn the industry from all member-type perspectives. It is truly amazing the amount of work that goes into keeping the industry vibrant and growing through efforts in government relations, product safety, member benefits, tradeshows, advertising, etc.
The natural progression for my career in the industry was to continue to grow on the service side so I could keep working with members to enhance products and services to best suit the distributor and supplier companies that I have worked so closely with throughout my career. So here I am at SAGE! It’s such an exciting time to be a part of the SAGE family and have the opportunity to assist in the decisions to help better serve companies in the industry.
What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
I would have to say earning an MBA. It’s just something that I put a lot of sweat and tears into that can never be taken away. I learned things through the program that I use every day in both personal and professional circumstances. Having the opportunity to earn the degree while still working was a true advantage.
What do you do in your free time?
I’ve reached the point in my life where I enjoy being a family man. So most of my time out of the office is spent with my family. I stay pretty busy with my 3-year-old son, doing all the crazy things he enjoys, such as playing soccer, wrestling or chasing bugs (he’s ALL boy).
What do you think is the key to succeeding in the industry?
Being different! There is so much more competition in the industry today, you have to find a way to differentiate yourself, set yourself apart from the competition. You have to approach your clients with solutions to their marketing needs and have suggestions for how to more effectively reach their goals. You have to be a promotional consultant, not just a distributor. The great suppliers are not just manufacturers, they’re support systems, educators, and partners to their promotional consultants.
What keeps you motivated in your career?
Other people’s success. I think that’s why I’ve really enjoyed being in a managerial role throughout my career. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing someone you’ve helped along a journey succeed, and then giving them all the credit for making it happen.
If you could have invented one promotional product, what would it be?
There’s something magical about the trusty old wall calendar. Even though today’s high-tech world provides many other solutions for keeping up with your to-do’s, the old printed calendar remains one of the top selling products in our industry, which is pretty amazing! It’s pretty powerful to think that if someone uses that product, the advertiser’s message will be in front of their face every day for at least a year!
If there were a book written about your life, what would it be titled?
Making the Most of the Cards You’re Dealt!