I grew up around The HON Company. I have two uncles who work for HNI, my mother works in Customer Support, and my grandmother retired from Allsteel, our sister company, after 21 years. If you would have told me 5 years ago I would have followed in their footsteps and joined the world of office furniture, I would have laughed. I graduated from St. Ambrose University with a Sport Management degree, with a dream of working in the field of professional sports, set in a big city for an iconic team like the New York Yankees. That is, until I saw a LinkedIn post for a Sales and Marketing Specialist at the HON Company.
After the arduous interview process one warm day in late August, I was drinking the HON Kool-Aid. The people were cool, the atmosphere was cooler, and how about those soda machines? It wasn’t a major-league baseball team, but it seemed like the next best thing. I learned that we would be participating in a three-month training program to learn everything there was to know about HON: their products, their program, their culture. I thought to myself, “Does it really take three months to learn office furniture?” Boy, was I wrong.
As I came to the end of the training program, I was asked what area of the country I would enjoy traveling to for my new role, Solutions Account Associate (SAA for short). Being the traveler I am, my response was anywhere outside the immediate three-hour radius. The next couple days were spent casually walking by Dave Brunk’s office four (or 40) times a day wondering if they had placed me yet. After what seemed like weeks, I was finally given a selling territory: New York City and New Jersey.
I was so excited; New York and New Jersey was such a big area with so much potential. The next couple days I spent soaking up as much information as I could about my new territory. I quickly learned that these areas, although some of the densest in the country, had the biggest opportunities for improvement. At one point, NYC itself had 5 dedicated Business Development Managers. Over the last twelve months or so, we’ve been reintroducing HON to dealers old and new.
Typically, my position as a SAA is a very inside sales focused role. For me, that’s not the case. While New York and New Jersey are some of the densest areas in the United States, that can also be said for HON dealers. A typical SAA helps cover anywhere from 20-30 dealerships. For me, it was near 70. Wow!
At first glance, it seems overwhelming. However, as the days went by, I saw the potential. With the large volume of dealerships, it was a chance for me to shine and partner with the area’s Business Development Managers. In this, I was able to take the reins and be that main point of contact for a number of dealerships in both territories. As the days, weeks, and months flew by, I learned an incredible amount. I have been exposed to many things that a SAA in other territory may not see. While days may be harder than others, at the end of the day, I tell myself that everything is a learning experience.
Let’s fast forward to today, as I book my 5th (or maybe 6th) trip to The Big Apple. I have developed great relationships with not only my Business Development Mangers, but with Dealer Sales Representatives, Dealer Principles, and designers. More importantly, I have developed trust. Without a doubt, the biggest thing I have taken away from this position is trust. Once you build a relationship and gain someone’s trust, the sale comes naturally. In my eleven months with this company so far, I have learned (and keep learning) new things every single day. I am excited for my future and the opportunities within The HON Company. It may not be an MLB team, but I hit a “home run” with HON.
Written by Jadelyn Agent, Solutions Account Associate