Just two years after acquiring Quietside, Samsung HVAC is already making major inroads into the ductless and variable refrigerant flow (VRF) marketplace across the U.S. Recently, nearly 300 Samsung HVAC sales reps and distributors met in Fort Worth, Texas, to network and learn about the company’s newest products during the second annual Samsung HVAC Sales Meeting.
GOING ALL IN
The theme of this year’s sales meeting, “All In,” was chosen to inspire attendees to commit to promoting and selling Samsung HVAC products, said Russ Tavolacci, senior vice president of Samsung HVAC. The theme dominated the two-day event, which was held Sept. 11-12 at the Omni Fort Worth Hotel.
“The buy-in has to happen from the top with the investment that says, OK, we’re going to make sure we get people to where they have a certain knowledge base and can control their market,” Tavolacci said during a sit-down interview with The NEWS. “We constantly want to emphasize to our distribution and rep partners that they own their marketplaces.”
The two-day event included a series of product sessions designed to teach attendees about Samsung HVAC’s latest VRF and ductless offerings, though the highlight of the two-day event was the Sunday evening awards dinner where guests dined on a gourmet spread, toasted the company’s future with champagne, and received awards for outstanding sales performance (see sidebar for winners). Tavolacci also took time during the awards dinner to stress the importance of a two-way partnership.
“We supply the product, knowledge and training, but the bridge between that is when dealers make their resources available — be them human, physical, financial, or other — to bridge the gap,” he said. “Once you do that, you’ve made the connection, and the partnership starts to work.”
Tavolacci used a football metaphor to stress the importance of committing to the partnership in order for it to be successful.
“You wouldn’t go out on the field with fewer than 11 players,” he said. “Sometimes that happens in this industry. People are excited but they don’t know how to get there, yet they want in on this business. Great. So you show up and they only have three people on the line. You’re not going to push the ball down the field. That becomes the main hurdle — convincing them that the investment is going to yield them real sales.”
NETWORKING AND PROMOTION
In addition to stressing the importance of the manufacturer-distributor partnership and going all in, Tavolacci also stressed the importance of networking and provided ample opportunities for dealers to interact and share knowledge and ideas with one another.
“For me, it’s a combination of the networking and seeing our dealers’ eyes open and go, ah-ha, because they suddenly can connect all the dots that they can’t always connect over the phone or by coming into our facility because we’re not always there,” he said. “This kind of gives them and their peers the whole perspective. I look at them and go, ah, they’re getting it. That, to me, is the best part.”
John Nall of Tom Barrow Co. in Birmingham, Alabama, said he attended the sales meeting to learn more about the products and better understand how everything works in order to operate his business more efficiently.
“The networking has been helpful,” he added. “I’ve known a lot of these people here over the years at different sales rep companies, and it’s always good to get back in touch with them.”
Nall’s goal is to sell more Samsung HVAC products and increase their market share so he “can increase sales and make more money, and that’s the bottom line,” he said. “Since we’ve taken on Samsung HVAC products, we’ve really [taken business away from] the main players in the market, and they don’t like it.”
William Walsh III, engineered sales account manager, Gritton & Associates in Las Vegas, said he particularly enjoyed the product overviews held during both days of the event.
“The product overviews were helpful — just going more in-depth with that and also seeing what’s coming out with the Samsung products, so we know in the next year what products are coming and can start pushing that now to help make our customers aware of what’s going on,” said Walsh III. “For me, personally, I definitely want to be one of the people to receive an award at the dinner, and I hope that next year, when we come back to this event, we get one of those awards.”
“It is a unique product that seems to have a unique position in the industry. It solves a lot of application issues that have been difficult to address,” he said, adding that he picked up a lot of information during the two days he was in Fort Worth. “Samsung is arriving late to the game in the U.S., but they come with a solid product and a lot of knowledge, and, so far, we like their business attitude. I’m just trying to take it all in.”
Tavolacci said events such as this allows companies like Hill to realize Samsung HVAC is a major contender in the market, and that they’ve chosen a good horse to bet on.
“I’ve heard things like — and this is paraphrased — ‘Wow, Samsung is right there now with folks that have been in this ductless VRF space for 10 years or so — you guys are right there now,’” he said. “I think what I’ve heard here is that Samsung is right there with our programs and our presentations as an organization. That’s a result of the legacy of the old company, which was more of a family business.”
Tavolacci said Samsung HVAC’s goals are to continue to grow and seek out productive partnerships with distributors and sales reps across North America.
“We’re mapping our plan right now as we speak,” he said. “We’re looking at the marketplace, how it’s changing, and how, again, VRF is spreading into all the different channels of business — not just the traditional ones of 10 years ago — and we’re trying to make the connection between the changing market dynamics and not only the products we bring to the table but the opportunities we can leverage,” he said. “Ten years ago, we could only sell this product through certain channels; now, it has opened up, but in order to capitalize on that, we’re trying to put some more business structure around executing that sales channel a little more.
“That’s where the partnership comes into play,” he continued. “It’s about taking ownership of the product and identifying the market potential in that marketplace. We hear a lot of partners or distributors, in particular, seeing it and saying, I want in, but they don’t know how to get in. It’s our job to help them and add that to our overall strategy for next year, which is expanding on a broader perspective.”
As far as advertising, Tavolacci said those marketing efforts will ramp up over time as Samsung HVAC dealers become more established in their respective regions. “We’ve made inroads into doing some outreach campaigns to the consumer on a regionalized basis where we knew we had dealers in those marketplaces and we wouldn’t just send the consumer nowhere when they saw our ads,” he said. “In a business startup, you have to walk before you run.”
As for next year’s 2017 Sales Meeting theme, Tavolacci remained tight-lipped and vague, though he hinted that big things are coming for Samsung HVAC.
“Really, next year’s theme, as I look forward to it and what our expectations are, I kind of see it as more like the next level, the next step in the evolution,” he said. “What it’s going to change to, I can’t tell you yet because it’s a secret, but it’s going to change.”
SIDEBAR: SAMSUNG HVAC HONOREES
Several Samsung HVAC distributors and sales reps received awards at the second annual Samsung HVAC sales meeting:
The Pinnacle Award of Excellence for Wholesale Distributor
Pinnacle Award of Excellence for Spec-in Rep
Best Spec-In Rep Performance
New York, New York
Best Wholesale Distributor Performance
Los Angeles, California
Best Roadshow Performance
St. Louis, Missouri
Samsung HVAC Partnership Award
Information courtesy of Samsung HVAC.