Charlotte Pipe sure knows how to throw a party! A group of about 35 trainees traveled to North Carolina to learn more about Charlotte Pipe products. For three days we attended classes about how the products they offer fit into a plumbing system. The instruction included plumbing basics as well as sales techniques. Charlotte wants us to sell more, so we can buy more (win-win). But it wasn’t just sitting in a classroom the whole day; the instructors set up hands-on activities to let us plumb a house ourselves. The real stunner was the foundry tour: we geared up and walked through the place where they make cast iron pipe. The tour included the whole process, from scrap metal to pretty, painted pipe and fittings. I felt so small next to a vat filled with 80 tons of molten iron! The plastics plant was neat as well because it has more automation with machinery. After class each day, we ate dinner as a group and played corn hole until the sun went down. Hajoca managers and purchasing agents interact with our vendors electronically so it’s great to see some faces behind the phones and emails. And as always, it’s wonderful to meet other trainees and hear what their experience is like because no two profit centers are the same.
Phase two is here! My first year with Hajoca flew by and I learned so much about the wholesale industry. I moved about an hour south to train with a new manager at a new location. During the first week at my new profit center, I met a team of almost 40 people and spent some time getting to know everyone’s roles. Each profit center is different, so it takes a little time to learn the habits of a different team. My main responsibility now is to learn inside sales for six months. I work with an outside salesperson to quote material and large jobs. The outside salesperson is in charge of finding and keeping customer’s business. He will go to commercial plumbing job sites to ensure the customer is getting great service from Hajoca. The inside sales team mostly stays in the office to take customer phone calls, quote plumbing material (often for a whole building), and order material that is not in stock. Put simply, quoting involves looking at drawings and material lists and then typing it into a ticket to show the customer prices. In addition to working with new people, I am also working with a new kind of material. My phase one location carried mostly residential and commercial plumbing fixtures; my new location carries more pipe, valves, and fittings. While the concepts are the same, there a many new details to learn.
Coming in with a year’s experience has made me more confident about taking on leadership projects. There is always something more to be done and I’m free to explore making improvements in the warehouse, on the counter, or in operations. I am motivated by the fact that I can find little inefficiencies and create new solutions to save time and money. I am interested in the pricing of commodity items so I am learning to maintain the way our salespeople stay on the front end of the market. Hajoca offers many training programs and it’s up to me get involved and find the information I need. Phase two will be a new set of challenges that I will meet with determination. I’m looking forward to getting settled and starting new relationships with customers!