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Starting Strong

I was still a student at Northern Illinois University when I got my start in the material handling industry. Santana Equipment Trading Company, a local company, was offering an internship program and I was able to secure a position. Through this program, I quickly learned the basics of the business. It seemed that almost right out of the gate, I had a knack for material handling, and by the time I graduated with a degree in economics, I was offered a full-time sales position with Santana. I accepted.

Since starting full-time in the summer of 2009, I’ve jumped head-first into the sales side of the business. I have responsibilities on both the wholesale and the retail sides. On the retail side of the business, I have myriad responsibilities. I handle daily advertising, meeting with customers face-to-face and overseeing transactions from the initial sales call to the post-sale follow-up. On the wholesale side, my main responsibilities are purchasing and selling equipment. This includes a good amount of phone work as well as frequent travel to different parts of the country. On these trips, I inspect available lift trucks and determine if they’re worth adding to our wholesale inventory. These trips are the most exciting parts of the job. Even though no sightseeing is ever done, it’s a great alternative to working in the office. It feels like I have two jobs. On any given day, I can be in any city in the country and that really helps keep things from getting stale.

All of this means I keep a very busy schedule. It’s a fast pace, and one that makes sure my head is always in the game. Thankfully, at Santana I work with an extremely fun and talented group of professionals that helps me keep pace. Everyone is great at their job, which makes for an outstanding environment. I give them a lot of credit for helping me achieve the level of success that I’ve been able to attain up to this point in my career.

That level of success includes a rookie year in which I earned top sales representative honors and set a number of company sales records. Aside from my co-workers, I think the two things that propelled me in my first year were product knowledge and honesty. They really are pillars in this industry. To earn the trust of any customer, you have to be an expert on what you’re offering. That’s why I dedicate myself to knowing everything there is to know about the products that I sell.

Earning a customer’s trust is one thing— keeping it is another. That’s where honesty comes in. Sure, I could sell a customer a product that is more than what they need but more profitable for me, but that’s not the way business should be done. That’s why I always offer the most effective product for the application, not the post profitable. It lets the customers know I have their best interest at heart. That’s what creates long-lasting relationships.

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