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Tim continues his adventures a the PRSM conference in Nashville this week. This time he’s invited an old friend Boston Rob to join him. Oddly Rob is not from Boston originally but the nickname has stuck over the 15 years Tim has known him. His real name is Rob Atkocaitis.
“I have a cream for that.” Tim says.
Rob has had a bunch of jobs over the last 15 years but he now works with Ocean Air AC. They manufacture portable air conditioners and heaters. The business has changes a lot over the last decade. In the past manufacturers would sell through a stocking distributor but now the middle man has been cut out. Most manufacturers in the HVAC world sell direct to their customers now.
Ocean Air manufacturer makes everything in the United States making them the kind of business Donald Trump says he wants to defend. Tariffs on foreign manufacturers would be a huge boon to their company. The HVAC market has been flooded with cheap products from Asia. They won’t last as long as Ocean Air units but they cost less up front. That’s hard to compete with.
Rob says he is a big relationship sales guy. He’s travelling at least three days a week to keep up his relationships with all his clients. He’s been in the industry for so long he knows his stuff back and forth. Meeting new clients can be brutally hard and he says it keeps getting harder. It used to be much more relationship based. Nowadays it’s all about cutting costs as much as possible. Unlike most manufacturers Ocean Air actually follows up with clients after their units are installed.
“What’s the most embarrassing things you’ve ever done in front of a client?” Tim asks.
Rob recounts a story from early in his career. Still in his mid 20’s went on a long day of golding with a client. Needless to say the “golf game” was just code for a long day of drinking. After the game he was invited back to his client’s place for a nightcap. Being a young cub he was still unaware of the dehydrating effects of alcohol. Within minutes of arriving at the house Rob passed out. A team of paramedics arrived to cart him off to the hospital. The doctor took a battery of tests and asked how much he had to drink. Despite being 15 or 16 beers deep he didn’t even register as legally drunk. His client was so impressed he stayed with Rob for years.