For the fourth consecutive year, White Flag Sales Initiative owner Matt Jagemann has won the title of TransWorld Business’ Northeast Rep of the Year. Jagemann took some time to give us the skinny on his path from being a shop kid to owning his own sales agency. Here’s what he had to say:
What’s the name of your sales agency and what brands do you represent?
The White Flag Sales Initiative, representing Burton Snowboards, Anon Optics, RED Helmets, Forum Snowboards, Foursquare Outerwear, and Special Blend Outerwear.
How long have you been repping and how did you get into it?
I have been repping over 18 years. I worked in a New England Snowboard Shop for about four years and was a sub rep for another four years after that. I eventually acquired my first brand as a rep and continued to add to the resume as time progressed. Eighteen years have passed and through a slow climb up the rep ladder, I eventually gained the New England Principal Sales Rep position for Burton Snowboards.
What’s the most rewarding thing about working with your brands and retailers?
What’s rewarding to me is that I am now able to work for the company that originally got me into snowboarding, it’s a great feeling. Burton is and always will be, to me, that iconic snowboard heritage brand: a company owned and operated by snowboarders and the global leader of snowboard manufacturing based right here in New England. That is what makes this job awesome, that and obviously being surrounded by snowboarding is always rewarding. I have met some great, talented people along the journey and created some great long term friendships, so that too is rewarding.
What’s your philosophy on your role?
That’s a good question . . . I guess when I take on a role like this one, I literally dive all in and live it. I am fortunate to enjoy what I do, and I believe that when you immerse yourself, not only in the job, but in the regional scene itself, it gives you great business perception. Remembering why we do this, instead of only remembering what we do, aids in daily inspiration. I have always believed that top notch service will echo in sales. My experienced crew works hard to service this territory and I know that it’s tough at times to please everyone, but we try our best to accommodate most requests if the account needs some assistance. Hard work, passion and dedication to the brand are very important aspects that I deem important to our success here in New England. Business is about relationships and over the years we have developed the best long term, trusting relationships in the zone.
How do you consistently stay on top of this? How much are you bribing shops?
Ha! Another great question. I can’t tell you how much the bribes have been lately, but honestly, I believe the reason why we stay on top over here is because of the current sales crew I have in place. They work hard and deliver their passion for snowboarding and for Burton every day. I believe their hard work has been the primary reason over the years that we have come out on top. This is not a solo effort, but an effort of a unified team that accomplishes the goals we need to accomplish day after day and season after season.
What do you think makes you excel in this role?
I like to think that I have taken the slow road to get to where I am, but I have learned a lot along the way. I worked in a shop, I managed a shop, I was a buyer, I was a shop owner at one point, I was a sub rep, and finally a sales rep on my own, and now a sales agency owner. All these positions over the years have given me realistic lessons about the business on all levels. I think the great reps have had these experiences over the years and when it comes to doing business, they can come right down to their customer’s level and create a great trusting business relationship based on experience.
What have been the biggest highlights and lowlights of 2012?
Too many too list . . . on both ends.
This year was another tough one for core retailers. How do you support your core accounts specifically?
Yeah, it’s tough out there, but I try to always push my New England accounts to never be reactionary. To be successful in today’s economy, they need to be proactive. They need to be creative in how they promote their business. They need to be proactive in selling, and they need to be creative in drawing traffic into their storefronts. It is a tough game out there, and I believe the accounts who push forward and are proactive will be the successful storefronts. If they just sit and react to the industry, their local business environment, etc., they may lose sales to those businesses that are creating new avenues for themselves.
What are your predictions for 2013?
It’s gonna snow like we have never seen it before and I want to get out and ride a little more!
Anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks goes out to all those New England shops that continue to vote for us here at White Flag. I hope all that we do helps them in the long run. I am super appreciative of everything. Thanks goes out to my team: Josh Hudson, Cassandra Madsen, Jeff Rumore, Chris Clark, and Erin Blaisdell. I am fortunate to have them in my life. I hope they also know how much I appreciate their dedication over the years. Thanks to all my in house support at Burton; I consider myself lucky to be employed by the greatest snowboard company in the world. It truly is an honor. Thanks of course to Jake and Donna for taking me on, and finally thank you TransWorld Biz!