“My business motivation is to try and build something that will last a long time.”
In the southwest suburbs of Chicago, Brian Hiner and his wife, Jessica, make a home with their Shar Pei puppy, Kiddie. Outside the home, he stays busy as regional sales manager for Mason, Ohio-based supplier Vitronic Promotional Group (UPIC: ACHIEVER), a job he took on four years ago when Vitronic sought an experienced salesperson with connections in the region.
His wife knows all about the stresses of the business—she works as a regional sales manager for Washington, Missouri-based supplier The Magnet Group (UPIC: THEM8674)—but the Hiners stay connected through shared interests. “When I am not working, I like to travel with my wife, read, collect first-edition novels and play with Kiddie,” says Hiner.
What was your first job, and what lessons (if any) did you learn that you apply to your work today?
My first job was shagging (collecting) golf balls, and I used to get paid five cents a ball. I learned if you want to make a lot of money, sometimes it takes a lot of balls.
When did you know you wanted to work in promotional products, and what drew you to the industry?
I was drawn to the industry in 1991, when there was a new branch of an existing company that wanted to explore the possibilities of entry into the industry.
If you could share a piece of advice with an industry newcomer that would help him or her succeed, what would you say?
My advice to someone new: Learn how to tell the difference between a good and bad deal. Make sure you know that your time is important and that there is profitable business to be had. Become a consultant to your clients, not just one who takes orders and sells exclusively on price.
Who do you consider to be your personal and/or professional mentors, and why?
I have many personal and professional mentors, really too many to mention, but I will tell you that there is a great saying, “Behind every man stands a woman telling him what to do.” (Thank you, Jessica.)
What motivates you in business? In life?
My business motivation is to try and build something that will last a long time. I especially enjoy creating something from nothing and watching it grow. My motivation in life? Try your hardest every day not to sweat the small stuff. (And it’s all small stuff, unless it involves life or death.)
What promotional product do you wish you had invented?
I’m taking the easy way out—I would say a pen or a pencil; there’s lots of sales there!
What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
I’m not sure that it has happened yet. I have been salesperson of the year for multiple companies; however, I try to improve myself within the industry. I received a great deal of pleasure while serving on the PPAChicago Board of Directors for 10 years (I’m currently immediate-past president.), as well as currently serving on PPAI’s Government Relations Action Council and the Regional Association Council Board.
If you were to write a book about your life, what would the title be?
“A Work in Progress”