Friedman’s Corporate Apparel
After managing a college bookstore and spending 11 years as a multi-line rep in the golf, resort and college bookstore industries, Seth Friedman was offered a job with supplier Cutter and Buck when it formed a promotional products division in 1996.
“I took a chance changing markets with a company that had no exposure in this industry,” he explains. “Twenty-one years later it was the best move I ever made. This is a wonderful industry.”
From his home base in Chalfont, Pennsylvania, he reps Cutter and Buck, Ahead and Logomark in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia, logging about 38,000 miles every year.
Not only does Friedman enjoy working in the promotional products industry, he also likes being an entrepreneur and working with other entrepreneurs. “I love to travel and not being tied down to an office,” he says. “No day is ever the same and waking up at the beginning of each month with no income is highly motivating.”
One of his nominators, Kevin Mullaney, partner and vice president at distributor Brandito, explains why he calls Friedman an outstanding rep. “I’ve always made time for Seth because he always makes time for me,” says Mullaney. “If I reach out to him via text, phone or email, he is extremely responsive, which is extremely important to me.” He also notes that Friedman reps a number of different lines, and doesn’t push any of them. “Instead, he starts with ‘What’s up, how are things going?’ He is fantastic at listening, asking the right questions, and then listening more. He takes all these notes in his head, and then when he starts walking you through his line, he hits on every pain point you expressed.”
Mullaney says when he calls Friedman, he is always willing to move mountains for him and his team. “Just recently he worked up a quote on back-ordered inventory to meet my end-of-year budget, helping to close a $30,000 order. Seth just gets this industry and is pretty much a part of the Brandito team.”
Nominator Andrea Coffman, account manager at McClung Companies, says Friedman is one of a handful of multi-line reps who consistently reaches out to provide samples, catalogs, ideas and suggestions to grow sales. “He has a fun sense of humor, is respectful and professional,” she says, “and he has always stood out with my clients who have met him at end-user shows and events.”
Nominator Bob Lowy, branch manager at Proforma Spectrum Graphics, adds, “Just in the past month and as recently as today, whenever I’ve asked Seth for most anything—whether to provide a clear path to a problem at the home office, provide a creative selling solution or even lend a hand in a client visit—Seth always goes the extra mile to provide customer and sales support.”
One On One With Seth Friedman
On the challenges multi-line reps face: Being away from my home and family is the most difficult thing. Changes in sales management at my lines from time to time have been very challenging. Traveling in lousy weather to meet with clients is no fun at all. The absolute biggest challenge currently is getting enough time with your clients to be effective for them and your suppliers.
On giving equal time to all of his lines: Equal attention is relatively easy, as your clients look at you as being a resource, rather than a rep for a particular company. I help them find solutions for their clients across a very broad spectrum of products, categories and companies. I like to equate it to being a “lending library” of experience and solutions.
On how distributors can help him serve them better: Tell us what your expectations are up front, and how you see us fitting in. Let us know if we are doing a good job and, if we aren’t, tell us how we can better serve your team’s needs. Realize that we truly are entrepreneurs just like you.