The senior management team at Industrial Revolution, the privately-held Washington manufacturer and distributor of outdoor accessories, is undertaking a unique journey to better understand the current sales environment of their retailers. Graeme Esarey, President of Industrial Revolution, and several senior level employees have decided to enhance their check-ins with specialty retailers and chains by embarking on a national road trip to tour stores and personally meet the people selling their products.
Esarey affirms these are not sales visits, instead the teams will be brainstorming and learning how to strengthen partnerships.
“Our interests lie in learning about creative ways we can support our retailers and partner with them on promotions, events and cool local happenings to make more of an impact for them and our brands,” says Esarey.
The “Go and See” Tour stems from a need to “go and see” retailers to gain a better understanding of the opportunities for success in each community, says the company. Industrial Revolution will not be contacting stores ahead of time in a desire to make each visit more organic and less staged. By observing how retailers display their products and sell them in-store, Esarey is hoping for the chance to better understand the needs of each retailer and discuss one-on-one how they can assist them in selling the brands’ products.
“Having senior management visiting stores across the country is part of our commitment to our retailers,” says Esarey. “These stops will enable us to do a better job for our customers, not to mention the human connections we will make with store managers in their own space. They have all been extremely welcoming, and there are some really good storytellers out there.”
Industrial Revolution’s VP of Sales, Tom Grover, agrees that this kind of face time is vital to building better relationships with retailers. Grover says the tour gives the company hyperlocal information about what works in each area and why.
“The soul of the outdoor industry lies in specialty retailers,” says Grover. “This tour gets us on the floor at these locations to remind us how to be relevant to our most important customer base – the avid outdoor enthusiast.”
Jeff Anderson, a shopkeeper at 45 Degrees in Stillwater, Minnesota, says his recent visit with Grover was a beneficial experience. He says Grover stayed for over an hour touring the store and discussing the display and marketing of Industrial Revolution products. Anderson says having someone at that level within the company stop by the store was a pleasant surprise.
“It was great to be recognized by someone in management,” says Anderson. “We’re proud of our store and it’s nice to show it off a little.”
Esarey says Industrial Revolution employees visited around 90 stores in the first quarter of 2016, covering much of the West Coast, British Columbia and Hawaii. Within these first months, the team generated a large number of ideas they can utilize in the future. Building upon the success of the first quarter’s visits, the company plans to focus on a different region of the country each quarter throughout the rest of the year, and this could become a permanent part of how they do business.