Not Intentionally – Part II

I answered the phone before it finished its first ring … I’m not as slow as some readers might think … and offered up my usual salutation. I did not know the caller, but that was about to change.

“Lyle,” the caller began, “my name is Ben Wenegar. I am a long-time reader of your columns and I enjoy them and I am happy that USGlass magazine continues to publish them.”

“Thank you, Ben,” I replied. “I am sometimes amazed by the fact that USGlass has allowed me the privilege of writing for them for as long as they have. They have an incredible group of writers and I feel honored to be a part of the team there. So what is it that I can do for you today, Ben?”

“Well, Lyle, I read your recent article titled ‘Not Intentionally’ wherein you referenced a conversation you had with an architect by the name of Charlie Oter. I’m sure you remember it.”

“I do, Ben. It was just a couple of months back and Mr. Oter was taking me to task for sometimes being a little too hard on architects.”

“That’s the one, Lyle. And as you may recall, Mr. Oter was complimentary about the manufacturers, suppliers and salespeople who helped him understand the products and techniques that were needed to do his job better. Well, I was one of those people. I worked for Kawneer as a salesperson and sales manager. I believed then, and still do, that our team, through our efforts with the architectural community, made the industry
better for everyone.”

“I would agree with that, Ben. And just so you know, I have long appreciated all the time Kawneer and other salespeople took to help educate me. The training they provided me was incredibly good and I don’t think I could have or would have stayed in the industry without it.”

“Well then, Lyle, why have you so regularly been critical of this segment of the industry? You once wrote an article about sales reps that so bothered me that I reached out to Richard Voreis, who I know is a friend of yours, to complain about you.”

“And what did Rich tell you?”

“He told me to contact you directly and let you know how I felt. I mean, if your comments bothered me, other salespeople were probably offended as well.”

“Just so you know, Ben, Rich and I have had a bit of a running conversation about this matter for a few decades now. He has taken me to task on more than one occasion about my treatment of manufacturers … particularly aluminum suppliers. I have great respect for Rich, but we don’t always agree on these things. I’m glad you reached out and if I have offended you, I assure you that it was not intentional. I apologize. However, there are a few points … I guess maybe I should call these my opinions … that I want to share with you. Specifically:

1. There are some truly great salespeople in the industry and they deserve our respect. There are also some lousy salespeople in our industry and they should be replaced.

2. I always prefer to deal with a knowledgeable company (pay-rolled) salesperson rather than an independent sales rep or sales rep organization. There are some independent sales reps that are incredibly good, but they are few and far between in my opinion.

3. I believe that, in general, the glass side of the industry has better trained salespeople than does the aluminum supplier side of the industry. This could be at least partially due to the fact that the aluminum side of the business is quite a bit more complicated and diverse than the glass side making it harder to truly master.

4. As a young person in the business, one of my early mentors told me that a good salesperson is worth their weight in gold because nothing happens until someone sells something. This is as true today as it ever was.”

“Well, Lyle, I guess in defense of the salesperson’s side of this, there are a lot of contractors who sometimes don’t want to listen to or believe what they are being told. It’s sometimes very tempting to take a shortcut to save time or maybe a little money and when things don’t turn out right, the suppliers are often blamed. Overall, I think it’s a great industry with lots of wonderful people working in it. It’s the handful of bad actors that sometimes make all of us look bad. Thanks for taking the call, Lyle, and for your time.”

“Ben, I totally agree with you and I can’t thank you enough for your call. I wish you a great day and please keep reading and feel free to take me to task whenever you feel it is appropriate. I guarantee that if you don’t, Rich Voreis or somebody else probably will.”

Lyle R. Hill is president of Glass.com®, an information portal and job generation company for the glass industry. Hill has more than 50 years’ experience in the glass and metal industry and can be reached at lhill@glass.com.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.