Close Up: Mike Landry
When it comes to selling success, Tumi’s Mike Landry credits his family first
It’s not very often that you meet someone who is the oldest of eight children. Native Bostonian Mike Landry is not only the oldest of eight, he’s also married to a woman who is the oldest of eight children. It’s clear that he and Bridget, a nurse and his wife of 34 years, were meant for each other.
“I’m lucky to be married to the love of my life, and I have two wonderful kids—Catherine, a first-grade teacher and Philip, an ecommerce category manager—and they all make me very happy,” he says. “[My kids] are two amazing people and I am immensely proud of them.”
In addition to his family, Landry is also passionate about both his home state and his house—a 1906 classic American Craftsman, which he calls “the fifth member of our family” because of the time and effort it takes to maintain it. “Massachusetts is very dear to my heart and, aside from a short stint across the border in Rhode Island, I’ve never lived anywhere else.” His job as vice president of special markets for supplier Tumi (UPIC: tumi), a position he’s held for 12 years, means he’s away from home for 45 weeks of the year. But when he’s home, he likes to work on projects around the house. “The last big project was a free-standing garage that matched the existing structure. I helped design it,” he says.
And when he’s not working on his house, he loves to follow his beloved Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics. “Keeping up with the Boston sports scene is a part-time job in and of itself,” he laughs. “But when I’m really off duty, I like to sail. We charter sailboats in the winter and travel port-to-port in tropical locations. I’m happy to say that I’ve sailed most of the Caribbean,” he adds.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
The people. Our entire sales channel is incredibly relationship driven, and some of my very best friends are people that I only see on the road. Plus, at our company headquarters, I work with some of the most creative, professional and hardworking people that I’ve ever met. They execute brilliantly and make me look good.
What was your first job, and what lessons did you learn?
One of my first jobs was waiting on tables. It was an upscale casual restaurant where you could be serving a couple who had arranged a babysitter for their only romantic night out that month, or a family running in for a quick dinner. Those are obviously two completely different experiences. My success was driven by my ability to accurately and quickly assess the customers’ various needs, and then do everything possible to meet them. It taught me a great lesson about the importance of clearly understanding each customer’s objectives and then executing specifically to that expectation.
What was your first job in the promotional products industry?
I worked at a sports apparel company back when licensed sports products were just coming into their own. I was a key account manager and was responsible for my company’s relationship with the four professional sports leagues. I found that I was writing orders for league sponsorship premium programs thousands of units at a time, while my colleagues serving the retail trade were writing individual units. I knew that I had found my niche.
What motivates you in business and in life?
I try to do the very best job I can with every task I take on. My dad passed away last year and he ingrained in me that if it’s worth doing at all, it’s worth doing well.
What is your greatest professional accomplishment?
If personal success is the foundation for professional success, then I have the best possible base to work from with my wife and kids. And I love selling. It’s all I’ve ever done. Plus, I have the honor and privilege of selling a world-class prestige brand—the very best you can buy. My challenge is to communicate the Tumi brand to our promotional products distributor base. Some get it and sell the brand very well. We broadcast the Tumi brand at trade shows and other educational opportunities. At Expo we demonstrate our products at brand., the incentive products showcase. We invest in a 20- by 20-foot booth, one of the biggest at the show. It is a massive undertaking. Seven or eight years ago I would stand there in the Tumi booth and people would wonder what I was even doing there. At last year’s Expo, by contrast, distributors were coming up to talk to me with specific questions about recognition programs, price points, incentives, and bringing some great opportunities with them. Tumi and many other well-known prestige brands are slowly but surely making progress with distributors.
What advice would you give to an industry newcomer?
I would advise any newcomer to get involved with the brands that operate in our supplier space. There are more brands than you can imagine that are incredibly eager to assist you with incentive, recognition and corporate gifting programs. They can drop ship, add logos and typically offer a wide variety of additional services. If you don’t have brands in your selling portfolio, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to add significant value to your client relationships, block your competition and do some purely incremental business.
What is your secret to success?
I’ve been very lucky. There are a lot of ways to define luck, but I’ll use the definition of luck that’s related to effort. Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been prepared when luck came my way.