Sunday, January 25, 2015

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

       When I see or speak with anybody lately, especially customers I have called on for years, I get the same question, "So how is it going?". To some, my answer has been with a laugh, "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!". When you start a new job, there is always a transition period. For me, it is mostly learning how to do the day to day things at Lawn & Golf, like knowing how quotes are done and expenses. In the end, sales is sales. You visit customers and discuss their challenges, and hopefully, you have a product or a service that makes sense to help resolve it. Sure, product knowledge is still a work in progress, but that comes with time and working with people who know more than you.
      The plans for the future at Lawn & Golf are exciting as we learned in a company wide meeting this past week and I am glad to be a part of . As a few people have said to me, " you are back to your old self. You can even hear it in your voice." It is good feeling to get up in the morning and look forward to going to work. You might say it is Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!




WJC

Monday, January 12, 2015

History Repeating Itself

       The advantage of experience is it gives you a very clear perspective on how things change. This past week, we hosted an educational event with our partners from Turflux. While GPS technology will be talked about more and more as the turf industry continues to evolve, the reality is that to me it is eerily similar to the transition to the Raven controller from a manual sprayer. On the sales end, we spent a bunch of time trying to be comfortable with how the Raven worked. For many customers, the thought of  letting a computer be in charge of chemical applications on their turf was unthinkable. Currently, if you were to sell a manual sprayer without any computer system, it is almost unheard of in our area. I truly believe that in the next 5-10 years, GPS spraying will be the same. The reactions to technology challenges are not seen the same as they were. I know for me, I am on about my 5th smart phone, with the last few phones meltdowns catastrophic for the phone, but not my information. With all the advantages that come with GPS technology and the bugs having been worked out on the Ag side, I think we are at the start of a new phase in turf management.



WJC

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Confessions of a Paperwork Hoarder

      I believe I can trace it back to an incident at college, where a note from the Registrar's office that I had held onto, saved me from having to take one extra class and I was able to graduate on schedule. This past week, I spent time clearing out my office of all of my old paper work. It was long over due! I have always been one to keep things, just in case I needed the information (OK, I am a hoarder!). From the first Toro Selling System book from the 90's, to an old Milorganite sales binder, there was way too many things that needed to be tossed long ago.
       I admit it felt pretty good loading up the back of my pick up to head to a local club's dumpster to get rid of it. It is especially refreshing with the change in jobs, that I have the chance to start fresh on how to arrange my office. It is funny to see how many things had been in paper form, mainly copies of old call reports. Now with the world of "paperless" offices, it is nowhere near the report generation that was done in the past.
       When you add in the handing off of my prize closet full of hats and other promotional stuff and giving my old Toro wardrobe to former co-workers, it was a cleansing holiday season!

      My name is Bill and I am a hoarder.....on the road to recovery!


Happy New Year!

WJC

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Great Turfstradamus Predicts.....

       The Great Turfstradamus will make a prediction: This upcoming year, you will hear more about GPS Spray application than any other "new" technology/products introduced at the GIS. Ok, this is probably not going too far out on a limb. I might even have just a little bit of insider trading information, but the end is near! I have heard many times, " They can do it in the Ag market, why can't we?" Now some of that discussion was during the demise of the centrifugal pump and depending on who you spoke to, it could be operator error by running the pump dry or the witches brew in your tank. One of my favorite lines from a technician, on the failure of a centrifugal pump years ago was, "Farmers are spraying paraquat through those pumps and they are not having the seals leak!". But I digress, we can talk pumps another time.
       As of today, we have the Smithco Star Command System (*disclaimer-unit I sell) and the Nu-Tec product. I have been on  the Smithco unit and am really impressed with the technology.
I did speak with the people from Nu Tec at last years GIS and have heard some positive feedback from some of the sales guys who had customers get units set up. The newest introduction is a company called Turflux out of Pittsburg. We got the chance to get a presentation at the Penn State Turfgrass Conference, a few weeks back, and will be working with them. I cannot give an overview that would do it justice, but I am a believer in what they are preaching.
       I do think that 2 of the other major sprayer manufacturers will have something at the GIS in this product line. I know of one prototype here in the Mid-Atlantic (might be green) and from prior to my exodus, there was talk of something on the near horizon on the GPS sprayer front in red.
      With the talk of savings from 15% to 40%, depending on whose literature you are reading, the introduction of a GPS sprayer into your fleet may be closer than you ever thought.

I have seen the future and it is coming to a sprayer near you!

http://turflux.com/

http://www.smithco.com/new-smithco-star-command-system/

http://nutecsoil.com/


WJC
AKA-The Great Turfstradamus

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Extra Helping of Thanks

       Thanksgiving seems to be a more reflective time for me this year. I realize that I am very fortunate with good health,for the most part in my wives family and my own. Both our parents just celebrated (Ok they slightly acknowledged) a 60+ year wedding anniversary and other than a few George Costaza's parent moments, they are doing well.
       For me, this was a year with a lot of soul searching, as a job change was eminent. I looked to many of the people who had played a part in my growth throughout my career for support.I have been very lucky to have some great people whom I consider my mentors. From the early part of my time at Philadelphia Turf, men like Barney McFadden, Bob Stokes, Tom Drayer & especially Scott Keener were all big influences on how I learned to do my job. Barney and Bob are no longer with us, but still made a large impression on me that continues to impact who I am today.
       Two other people that I have looked to as mentors and are the definition of being at the top of your profession are Jim Nedin & Tom Hurst. They are two of the most knowledgeable technical experts I know in the Turf industry, but that is not what makes them extraordinary. It is their passion to take care of people and never leave anyone hanging! To quote Jim Nedin " While they might worship in different churches of grinding theory, they both have the religion of sharp reels make better turf conditions." I consider myself very luck to have had the chance to work closely with both and have learned a ton over the years, probably as much technically as much as they way to treat people!
      And I would be remiss, if I did not mention someone who has been over the years a great mentor to me, Frank Shuman. Frank was the owner of Philadelphia Turf, who retired back at the end of 2007. He has taught me a lot about business and his direction on how to do the right thing and often steers me when I know I need to not take the easy road. From all the conversations we have had, I always know Frank will give it to me straight and more often then not his advice is; "Cork, you know what the right thing is to do, so you just do it!" Frank got me the chance to be a part of the board of the First Tee of Greater Philadelphia, which I am really proud of being involved with. He also has taken me on scholarship to some really cool events, where I usually joke to the valet parker that I am pretty sure that my pickup would be the ONLY one he parked that night.
       These men all have had a profound impact on me professionally and personally, I probably can never say thank you enough for all that they have done.
I know that this Thanksgiving, I have much to be thankful for.....

Hope you and your family have a healthy and happy Thanksgiving!

WJC










      

Monday, November 17, 2014

Elephant Hunter vs. Rod Carew

       During one of the discussions at Jacobsen University, from the back of the room, I heard a line that I thought was a great one. I believe it was a sales manager who made the comment," You guys are elephant hunters. You are looking to sell $60,000 mowers." I really thought it was a great analogy. I know for me, over the past few years, the focus on large deals, and the time they took, absolutely put me in that category; which was not what I had based my early career territory management on. The consistent sales of one and two pieces to many of your customers was how to be successful. One of things I used to kid with my sales manager back then was, "Rod Carew was able to make it to the Baseball Hall of Fame by hitting singles!".
       The equipment purchasing world has changed with more and more clubs leasing, so there are more "elephants" to hunt, but the reality is the success rate has to be high or you will be struggling to succeed. On the other hand, if you are able to continually sell (hit singles and doubles), you have a much better chance of being a solid performer and helping your company grow.
       Don't get me wrong, winning a large sale is a great feeling. The hard part is they are time consuming and if you aren't lucky enough to earn the business, you probably missed out on some other opportunities that aren't coming back.
 I guess in a perfect world I would be Rod Carew the elephant hunter.....



WJC

      

Monday, November 10, 2014

From a Different Point Of View

       This past week, I attended my first event at the training facility for Jacobsen in Charlotte, NC. While I have attended too many Toro University events to count over the years , I was interested in seeing things from a different point of view. This Jacobsen University program was about five distributors, compared to traditionally the ones I attended for Toro, consisting of all Toro's USA distributors. The idea of an on site training area is a good one and the educational and break areas were really well done.
        All in all, it was similar to what I had seen regarding class room work and in the field training in the past except obviously from a different perspective. Even to the point that I was having flashbacks as the Tier 4 information was reviewed on power point slides. The slides were identical to what I had seen at other classes. The truth is, for me, I learn better from talking to peers who are willing to share their knowledge. The point of understanding what features are important to emphasize, during a demo,sticks more in my A.D.D. mind then slide after slide of features and benefits. Also, I have never been someone who could stand there and rattle off specs with the exception of  a few key ones. To me, it is about how the product fits a need or can make your job easier, rather than how many outlets to plug in your phone are on a unit.
       It was a fact filled few days and I did get to some quality time to talk to and learn from some long time Territory Managers. The end take away being, I still have a lot to learn....

     
WJC