Lowe’s – How to pitch products, get In-store, and drive sales – Merchandise Services Team & other improvements made over the last year – EP19

What you’ll learn:

Tim Gilmer has worked with Lowe’s for 25+ years as an expert in the hardware distribution industry. He gives valuable insight into sales, marketing, logistics, and merchandising strategies to get in store at Lowe’s—and stay there.

About our guest:

Tim works out of the Lamb, Britt, Gilmer & Associates corporate office in Gainesville, Georgia and is responsible for concentrating our sales efforts with home center chains and mass merchant accounts. Additionally, he is responsible for oversight of all aspects of category management for his departments and product lines at Lowe’s including: Sales, Marketing, Logistics, and Merchandising. He was recently added to the Lowe’s Advisory Council.

Key takeaways from this episode:

  • Highlight of Tim’s 30+ years in hardware distribution — 1:31
  • LBG’s unique business model — 5:58
  • Company stats (employee number, warehouse sizes, etc.) — 7:30
  • Services LBG brings to your company — 11:22
  • Tariff strategy: how to work with Big-box retailers — 14:35
  • Most important sales tactic to help pitch your products to Lowe’s — 18:34
  • Key aspects to track once you’re in store to maintain sales — 20:54
  • MST, Merchandise Services Team, and Lowe’s associate—what are the differences? — 24:20
  • Internal Lowe’s changes and next stage growth strategies — 26:00
  • Strategies for helping Lowe’s associates sell your products instore — 26:50
  • Product packaging improvement insights — 28:48
  • Best sales channels for the hardware and home center industries — 34:10
  • Best strategy to get in store at Lowe’s — 36:20

Podcast Transcription

Speaker 1: Welcome to the Page One Podcast, a weekly podcast featuring a variety of guests and thought leaders on topics ranging from channel strategies to tariffs, influencer marketing, best in class product launches, and all the details about how to accelerate your eCommerce sales with the big-box retailers or what we call our Commerce. Now here’s your host, Luke Peters.

Luke Peters: In this episode we focus on how to grow your Lowe’s business. You will learn from expert Lowe’s rep, firm owner, Tim Gilmer. Tim is partner and co founder of Lamb, Britt, Gilmer & Associates, we refer short as LBG. And you can … you’re going to learn how Tim got started, how he built his firm and how he’s was recently added to the Lowe’s Advisory Council. Thanks for joining Tim.

Tim Gilmer: Well, thank you very much Luke I appreciate it.

Luke Peters: Cool. And then before we get into questions, just a little bit about Tim. Tim as mentioned above, is a partner and co founder of the LBG firm, which specializes in Lowe’s rep business and maybe some other things that we can learn about today that you can talk about. Tim. Tim is responsible for sales and category management into Lowe’s and his firm’s focus is as mentioned all around Lowe’s and how to grow your business with them. Tim, why don’t we start the interview, kind of talking about your early years, maybe before you started this firm what were you doing and kind of how did you get into this line of business?

Tim Gilmer: So I was probably maybe destined to be in the hardware and home center world. I was entering the university of Georgia when a friend of mine when I was 18 years old asked me to come down interview for a job as a buyer at a little company called West Building Materials. They were a hardware home center lumber yard and 64 stores. And so I didn’t think much about it. I went down and interviewed and as it turns out, I guess they liked my interview. And before my first day in classes at the university of Georgia, they offered me a position at a buyer and I was floored because I was 18 years old and the position paid more than I thought I could probably make when I got out of college. So I thought, well, “Hey, I’ll give this a try for a year or two and see what happens.”

Tim Gilmer: And so I took the job and I ended up working there for little over seven years. And really enjoyed it, learned a lot. It was kind of a hard knock school. But I did learn a lot and through that process I saw a lot of the people that were calling on our company when I was a buyer. And I just thought, well, I see some good ones and I see a whole lot of folks that they maybe could do better. And so I needed, I felt I could do better and I wanted to work for myself.

Tim Gilmer: And so I found a couple of guys that were actually calling on me. Not calling on me heavily, but they were more concentrated in the distributor side of the business in hardware distribution and didn’t do much with direct homespun or business. And so it gave me an opportunity to talk with them and they pursued me and we put something together. And a couple of years later I became a partner with them. And we started what we now call LBG and it’s been a great almost 29 years now. That was December 1st, 1990 when I started in this business. So that was my second job that I really as an adult that I ever had and along my second job.

Luke Peters: Wow. It’s a great story. So you kind of cut your teeth, you put a lot of time in at the previous position, like you said, seven plus years and really learn the industry and then you went out and kind of co-founded your business with these other guys. Were you at the time, were you guys of like, from the very beginning, was it focused on Lowe’s?

Tim Gilmer: It really wasn’t exactly in the very beginning. Initially, it was Lowe’s, it was Home Depot. It was some small regional chains and they had already had business going with a lot of the distributors, some of which are out of business today, but the largest of which is still very much a customer of ours today. Oracle incorporated out of Memphis, Tennessee and Two-Step Hardware Distribution is really still a one shot of our business and the other side is primarily Lowe’s.

Tim Gilmer: And so they make up about half and half really of our company as far as revenue goes. And it’s a good balance because although we do different things at the Two-Step Hardware side of our business we do things we can learn about, to bring to the home center side of the business and vice versa. With the things that we do for Lowe’s and home centers, we were able to take into the other world and in both cases provide value to the customers. Both Lowe’s or an Oracle or whomever the customer might be, and to the factories that we represent.

Luke Peters: To clarify, what are you referring to when you say Two-Step Hardware? What does that actually mean?

Tim Gilmer: So Oracle is an independent hardware distributor, so that they have multiple distribution centers around the country and they would serve the independent hardware dealers as well as people that are multi-store chains, but smaller in nature and not a national home center by any means usually. But those customers are served through distribution and that’s a market that we serve home on the Two-Step Hardware side of our business.

Luke Peters: Got it. Makes a lot of sense. And so I was going to get more into that about, describe more of what you do for the audience. You covered of it. Is there anything else, to kind of say just to highlight what the firm does? Kind of before we go on into deeper questions about how people can improve their businesses?

Tim Gilmer: Well, I will just say about our firm, we have tried to build a business model that is unlike others in the industry. You said in the intro that we’re a rep agency. I mean technically we are, that’s the industry that we’re in. Although the things that we do are not typical of rep agencies. And we’ve grown to be to have a pretty robust set of capabilities both on the hardware side as well as the side that I run in the home center side.

Tim Gilmer: We work for a factory and handle their business at a company like Lowe’s, we have to have a reason for being and a value that we provide. And so if a factory is able to manufacture something and put it in a box and ship it, if they needed it, we could virtually everything else from package design to the graphics and the supply chain side of the business. And even to the point of after sale, customer of service report and parks shipments. So we try to be an extension and an outsourced extension of the factories we represent providing, incredible value to not only the factory but to Lowe’s. Because when Lowe’s, does business with a company they want to do business with somebody that knows how to speak their language. And that’s something that we’re specialists in.

Luke Peters: Perfect. And kind of give our listeners just a little bit better idea of the company. Can you kind of speak to how many scale of the company, how many employees building size, you guys are just your location. I know you guys are like right next to Lowe’s, so that’s one of your buildings is right next to Lowe’s.

Tim Gilmer: Right. We have 32 employees. Again, been in business since mid 80s. We have three offices, we have offices in Georgia, North Carolina and Alabama. And we position ourselves so that we’re …. and applies to take care of our customers when they need it. The Georgia part of our business, just where everybody was from, when the business started. And that’s where my hometown is. And I tell everyone I probably should have moved to North Carolina 28 years ago, but I didn’t. And so three hours away and I find myself making a trip at least once a week. Seems like about 40 something weeks a year. But it’s what we grew up on. A rock grew up on and I’m quite used to it.

Tim Gilmer: But we have an office there and a complete show room and we find it very helpful pillows, merchants, and the entire Lowe’s team to be able to have graphics folks come over or their brand development people and including their merchants and let their product development teams and we can leave things there and work with them for a long period of time and get them involved on the product roadmap earlier than they would with a lot of other factories. So it’s very beneficial to have that fulfill me, which we just moved into a new facility this year in Morrisville and tripled the space. And it’s given us a lot more flexibility with what we’re able to do with, with Lowe’s and as a company.

Tim Gilmer: We’ve just been blessed with tremendous growth. And that all comes from the fact that we’ve got great people working for our company. And that’s our most valuable asset as a company as the people that we have. And when we can depend on them and it’s very special to have a company that has two things going for it.

Tim Gilmer: One, a management, and ownership that trust and loves one another, which we do. And my business partner, Jim Lamb and I, we often say that, it’s just very rare in our industry. We’ve been partners now for 27 years. And I can’t remember a problem we couldn’t resolve where we’ve had a major argument about it. And that’s just very rare.

Tim Gilmer: And then the second valuable thing is that employees that we have, or just they’re the cream of the crop. I wouldn’t trade any of them for replacement. It’s a joy to have those people work for you and work alongside you and see their growth and development and buy-in into what we’re trying to provide to our customers. So, that’s what makes us successful.

Luke Peters: And you nailed it there with saying this, for how long have you guys have had this partnership? 29 years and still succeeding right now. That is definitely not commonplace. You see a lot of firms have issues with that. So you pick the right people to work with it sounds like.

Tim Gilmer: Yeah. We’re fortunate.

Luke Peters: Now specifically. So companies that are listening to this, they might go at it alone when they’re going into Home Depot or Lowe’s or any of the other big box retailers, or they might hire in help. And like you said, you guys might be in that category of rep firms, but you’re a little bit different. But just kind of in short, and you already kind of talked about a lot of the things you do, but even maybe more specific, what is the big value driver that you’re going to bring companies and why they would work with you rather than trying to go at it alone into one of these big-box retailers?

Tim Gilmer: Well, I mean, every company and every situation is different. And I’d be the first admit there are companies that would never need our services. There are a lot of companies that can greatly benefit from our services and those relationships are the most beneficial ones are where a company needs to bolster their focus on Lowe’s in particular. Maybe they’ve got a national sales manager or a sales manager that handles the account and that’s about it. And we bring, if they are our company to work alongside that individual and that’s the key.

Tim Gilmer: We never want to replace the national sales manager or the VP of sales or whoever it might be. That’s not our goal. Our goal is to come alongside and to make them stronger than they could ever be working alone. And immediately it’s like they’re working with a affirm that speaks the language and Lowe’s has its own language and tonally they have their own challenges and turnover and we’re uniquely in tune with that and it’s given us the ability to give them a comfort level, both from dealing with a new factory or an existing factory to make them better. And so that’s been a big key for success for us.

Luke Peters: And full disclosure to the audience, I work with Tim, I wanted to mention, I forgot to mention that earlier, but we are clients. We’re working with LBG and so to have a lot of insights about them and I thought that you’d be a great resource because I know a lot of companies are … and if they have someone who’s got 20 years with Home Depot, then that person understands the language.

Luke Peters: But often there’s a lot of companies that are in the middle, they might think they have the right team. But on the other end of the spectrum, there’s a lot of ways that you just kind of elaborated on that you guys can help these companies kind of get in deeper with their relationships.

Tim Gilmer: And look, it’s not just that we know people or that we know individuals or we can get doors open, that certainly I’m not going to discount that. But more importantly, what we know and how we know how to do it, is what is the most valuable and the speed with which we can make it happen before the factory and for Lowe’s in particular it has been the thing that has propelled us to continue the business model that we got started on really, we’d been redeveloping our company and reinvesting in our company and reinvesting in infrastructure and people and facilities and things that need to be done in order to continue to grow. So it’s a little bit unique in our industry.

Luke Peters: Yup. Kind of on that line and obviously you’re working with Chinese factories as well and you guys know a lot about supply chain. So kind of talking about supply chain and I’m sure you can help your clients with this as well, but what are say two to three things that you think you’ve learned or that you know would add extra value to the audience here, especially in light of the tariffs that we’re dealing with right now?

Tim Gilmer: Well, I don’t know if anybody is a total expert on the tariffs that are in place right now and that can change on a dime and we don’t really know what will happen tomorrow. Hopefully that that eases back and there’ll be a trade deal struck between the US and China, that will be fair to both sides and that some of the current pressure will go away. But one thing is for sure as long as it remains, how you deal with it, with the factory and with a customer like Lowe’s is very important to how you’re going to end up as profitable or not profitable company handling the business with Lowe’s. And so we try to be very aggressive with that to put something in place. Even before we’re asked by Lowe’s as the tariffs have increased and separate and additional layers have come on in different rounds.

Tim Gilmer: Having something in place and a strategy to deal with it in advance has been key to being able to navigate the waters and do it with the least amount of harm because it can get very contentious. And if not dealt with upfront and very forthrightly, then it can lead to loss of business or the decision by Lowe’s to perhaps go with another vendor that is in a different location or whether they just don’t have to deal with the tariffs. So having a plan in place to help mitigate and to work with Lowe’s and making sure that they know about it, that’s a key thing. And being able to work with it.

Luke Peters: Is there like an example there, Tim?

Tim Gilmer: Well, I mean, so for example, I mean, in our business, we know that we have, in most cases, there are multiple factories that can do … when I say multiple factories, one company, we wouldn’t represent multiple companies within an industry, but we represent a single company that may have multiple locations. Now they may not have a plan to do all of the items out of all of the locations, but the ones that are impacted the most severely by the tariffs. If we can help them facilitate moving some production or changing the way we do some of the business at Lowe’s in order to help them with that, then that’s what we tried to be very proactive in doing.

Tim Gilmer: And also to all fit tariff issues. There’s more ways to do that than just dropping cost. I mean, we’d get into looking at the tube of the item the way the packaging is, if they’re different packaging techniques that we can help the factory with to increase container quantities, all of the things that you can to help drive first cost down or landed cost down for Lowe’s can be something you get credit for, but you want to make sure that you’re bringing those points to Lowe’s as a customer and you’re getting credit for those. You wouldn’t want to increase container capacity of an item by 15%. And just do it without at least showing the example and showing the how to monetize that customer like Lowe’s so that they know that they’re going to see it in their minded cost.

Luke Peters: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And I mean, basically you’re just saying you’re partnering with these guys and you’re making sure that all the way through the supply chain, both sides are winning. When you’re pitching a product to Lowe’s, what are two to three specific things that are important to Lowe’s? Maybe these are, Lowe’s speak or terms that they look at or something that is important to them. That would be interesting to the audience.

Tim Gilmer: I think if we’re talking obviously with Lowe’s or Home Depot or Menards or whomever you would be talking to in this industry, they’re all going to demand that they buy it at the best possible price, that’s a given. So if you’re going there trying to sell it at something other than in the best possible price and you’re at a disadvantage already.

Tim Gilmer: But secondly, I would say that things that you can offer to them that allows them to be different, something you can offer to them that allows them to be exclusive or can have something that, where they don’t have to compete head-to-head with their largest competitor. That’s kind of a feather in your cap, so to speak. So if you can position certain things that way if you have the ability to do that or if you have the ability to work with them on development and look, your company is a good example.

Tim Gilmer: We were working on something for Lowe’s that, I won’t go over in detail on this, on this podcast, but I will say there’s something very unique and we’ve got buy-in from Lowe’s about it and now they’ve got ownership in it and then they’ve got skin in the game on wanting this item. And I think it’ll be very successful. So, that’s something that’s key. If you can … anybody can give somebody to same product and just quote a lower price. But if you can quote something that is unique or, and you can have something that offer something that’s not just a product in a box at a price and make the item a little bit special or something special about the assortment.

Tim Gilmer: And it doesn’t always even have to be about the item. It could be about the way you do the supply chain. Maybe you have a unique advantage and that you can do with lead time or the way you wrap the items. And we looked for the advantages throughout the category to see what we can do. That makes us unique and different.

Luke Peters: Makes a lot of sense. Given the best price, allow them to potentially get an exclusive or to be different. And that makes a lot of sense. So they went on the price side and the marketing side. Once you’re in store, then what are brands need to be aware of? I mean, I know there’s, you want to monitor, sell through, but kind of, what’s the language you guys are saying? What are the key things that have to be tracked so that you’re not in a problem situation of, not fast enough sell through. Or what else are you guys looking at or monitoring?

Tim Gilmer: Well, we certainly want to track how the thing ramps up over the first four to nine weeks. During that period we can get a pretty good snapshot of what our sales rate is going to be. And right out of the gate we want to make sure that it launches properly. We want to communicate well with their in store teams, which they call MST. We want to make sure that we’re getting a good product set, product launch, which is drastically improved at Lowe’s quite frankly over the last year and a half as they’ve launched their MST merchandise services team. They’ve learned about 16,000 to 17,000 people on that team nationwide. And it’s getting better and better as the months go by. Not only launching and doing reset, their own time completion has gotten much better than that. But also just in regular maintenance of the bays, making sure that the product is stocked properly.

Tim Gilmer: But beyond that, you got to really watch as new products especially, or guess what the run rate, the per store per week is going to be. And so it’s key that we keep a good eye on, what our in stock levels are going to be. And if it’s a product that lends its self to job lot quantities, that’s nothing you really have to pay special attention to. And have those job lot quantities get loaded are very important for Lowe’s. You got to be careful. You can’t just go out and increase job, lot quantities indiscriminately. Then you end up with inventory in the wrong places. And you’ve got out of stocks where you shouldn’t have them and you’d get overstocks where you shouldn’t have them.

Tim Gilmer: So no one had to do that. And out of work with Lowe’s is very important for that. And then, as it does get launched, you hopefully you’re launching it with the right package that tells a story so that not only the customer can see it on the package, but also the associate in the aisle, that’s the person that the customer’s asking for product knowledge about that product.

Tim Gilmer: And so they’re not going to be able to be an expert in every single product in that store or in that department, but if they can quickly reference the information either on the package or online that’s a great benefit to those associates. And we incumbent upon the factories and us to give them that data and that information and that knowledge in a way that they can access it quickly.

Luke Peters: Yeah. I’m glad you touched on that because I got a couple of questions kind of related to that. And I guess, so I was going to ask, how important is in store training of associates, but I guess at Lowe’s like you mentioned they’re called MSTs and you mentioned they have brought on 18,000 or so of these MSTs and I guess that’s part of the story right now. Right? There’s been a lot of changes at Lowe’s and hopefully now we’re kind of on the back end and going to see a lot of benefits from what the new leadership team has done over there.

Luke Peters: But the question here is how realistic is it to do training or is there a way to do training with the MST associates, the folks that are boots on the ground at each Lowe’s store. Are there any programs or what are the options there? Because there’s just too many stores to physically visit. Isn’t there or is there?

Tim Gilmer: I would now want to draw … there’s a difference in the MST and the Merchandise Services Team and the regular Lowe’s associate. The merchandise services team is focused on service. They’re focused on product service, reset, product launches, down stalking, in-stock condition, task oriented things. They haven’t been put in place to free up the regular associates to spend more time facing the customer, dealing with the customer, selling product and doing customer service.

Tim Gilmer: And so there’s two separate things, but Lowe’s have several things in place to help train both MST and regular associates. And they have video training that they do for their associates. They have electronic references for their associates. And as I said before, the online part of it and the technology piece that Lowe’s is putting in place is getting better and better.

Tim Gilmer: Lowe’s is focusing on that. I think they did a lot of field management and merchandising, structural changes and organizational changes first, that needed to happen once the management took over. And as those are settling down, they just announced another round of things that they’re going to be doing on the supply chain side, on the at IT side that are coming on quickly as the next round. It’s really begin to pay dividends now that they have the management structure and organizational structure in place. Now they’re adding in the next layers of things and they’re going to take them to the next level.

Tim Gilmer: That all of that is part of how they communicate with their associates. Communicate through regional field merchants and things of that nature that helped drive their assortments down to the local level and also drive the knowledge into the associate base so that they have the confidence to stand in front of a customer and help them with what their needs are.

Luke Peters: Yeah, I can see that being critical. If the associates know the product. So what is the … do you guys have a certain strategy on that or are there just multiple things you do to make sure the associates know about the product?

Tim Gilmer: Well, multiple things. I mean, some of them are very basic, where each department has a Cadence where they can send out information and to the customer service associates and we certainly want to be a part of that and making sure anytime we’ve got something to tell about our product that we’re trying to get that in that internal publication Lowe’s also offers weekly product showcases that their management does that become allowed for all of their stores internally. And you certainly want to try to get new and exciting things on there and always keep something about your company in front of them and keep just every bit of knowledge that you can pour into them is going to pay dividends.

Tim Gilmer: And so that in addition to the video training and product literature that we make available online also the product package, I mean, you’ve got a billboard in every department. Now granted some are smaller billboards than others if you’re selling nuts and bolts, but if you’re selling, let’s say an applies like you do, you’ve got a huge billboard sitting there in a package, Michelle that can talk to not just the customer, but it’s a benefit to the associates too. So let’s get the right things. And that’s one thing, new air does fantastic by the way, is tell the story of their product on the package. Very succinctly and would the key things jumping out at the customer or the associate that they need to know in the first couple of seconds as I began to look at the package

Luke Peters: And I was going to ask about that. And you make a big point about packaging and especially kind of for our products since they are larger, it’s a big billboard as you say. And what have you guys … have you guys had any experience on say, A/B testing, different product packaging or different call to actions on the packaging and then experienced improvements in sell through? Is there anything that you can talk to about that?

Tim Gilmer: I can. In today’s world, whether you’re selling just Spanish, English or trilingual packaging packages tend to get very wordy. So anything is an image or a logo or an icon does not have to be translated. And so the more of that, that we can use and the last words we can use on the package, that communicate the story, people quickly get an image, they quickly see what is happening and what is intended by it. But when you put something in there and you’ve got to have it translated in three languages, it begins to look like the decoration of independence, they kind of glaze over and you lose them.

Tim Gilmer: So the more we can do with less words and more action shots or more icons and images, the better.

Luke Peters: Yeah, there you go. Keep it simple. So, that’s wise feedback there. And thanks for going in depth there because I think, I mean, once in store, then it’s about optimization and making sure you stay in store and that the product is doing what it should be doing. It’s being communicated to the associates. So all of those details are … some of them are new to me, so it’s why I enjoy doing these podcasts.

Tim Gilmer: Sometimes things don’t stay in store and you’re not going to win every single time. And so you still have to be monitoring and planning and you’re much better off if you’re doing your job. You’re looking at that product and you’re making sure that if you know you have a problem, you’re addressing it early. You’re not letting inventory continue to bill for a problem down the road. So you can’t just be there in the good times. You’ve got to be prepared for dealing with issues that come up because it’s like no other. It’s like anything else in life, the message is going to be perfect all the time. There’s going to be issues and how you deal with those issues and that few are aggressively and proactively dealing with those issues. It’s going to be appreciated by everybody involved.

Luke Peters: That makes sense. And now, talking about the future goals of the business, are you able to share kind of what those are and where you guys see the company in say five years from now?

Tim Gilmer: Yeah. I mean, our company has been growing pretty fast paced over the last 10 years. And during that growth, we have really started to invest more in people, we’re still a small company, but we’re many times the size that we were when I started in 1990, for sure. But really over the last 10 years, we have hit our most aggressive growth and we now have put more things in place and infrastructure to allow us to do a better job. We’re not really trying to be something that … we’re not trying to go out into the sporting goods industry or go into the dollar stores. We’re focusing on what brought us to where we are, the customers that brought us to where we are and we’re trying to make sure that our objectives are aligned with theirs, both on the home center side and the two step hardware side and that we’re doing the things that are going to help them meet their objectives.

Tim Gilmer: So I know something that is super important to you and where you guys started with online business, at Lowe’s they’ll tell you they’ve got a long way to go there. They’re behind some of their competitors. They are not where they need to be with their online content, with their online systems, with their delivery systems that they’re ordering systems, all of that has some major challenges. It’s just beginning to start getting better. And there’s been a major commitment on Lowe’s by half to that.

Tim Gilmer: And so for that reason, everybody says that that online is still on a growth pattern. It’s got a big upside. It’s growing at all customers, but it really has the potential to grow by leaps and bounds at Lowe’s because they’re taking naps and barriers that they’ve had for years that once those are no longer in place, they’re going to have a much higher ceiling for growth, even then the general industry.

Luke Peters: Well, that’s good to hear. And I know for this audience, that’s probably like a valuable nugget there because Lowe’s has had a lot of changes in the last year and everybody’s wondering where to invest their time in. But I still like the house and home category online, especially for products that fit it. Because while Amazon’s always going to grow, it’s not the perfect spot for every product. And some of these Home Depot and Lowe’s in particular have a special segment of the market, I believe, and probably Wayfair also to where they can be really strong in some categories where Amazon is not the first place everybody thinks of. So yeah, it’ll be interesting to see.

Tim Gilmer: Well there’s a lot of products in this industry that people want to, they will research it online for sure. And that’s where vast majority probably of the decisions begin, but in the hardware and home center industry, they want to go in and see this product. They want to see how it’s going to be installed or how it’s going to fit with their home, how it’s going to work. It’s really much more hands on than say some of the typical products that you might buy online.

Tim Gilmer: And so that would the knowledge of the customers that they’re going after and the knowledge of the industry that we’ve developed. To go back to the point you asked earlier what we’re doing to grow over the next five years. We really are not only investing in infrastructure and technology on our side of the business internally, but also in people.

Tim Gilmer: And I don’t count myself with a super old guy. I’m 53 years old. So I think I’m really young, but we’re also investing in some younger people. We’re getting the next generation of sales people and supply chain people and graphics people and data people in our company because that’s where most people are going to be able to take us to the next level.

Tim Gilmer: So we have to recognize that we need to continue to invest in those people with the right skillset to help our customers. Whether it be a factory like yourself and our customers like Lowe’s get to where they need to be. So we’re going to continue to invest in the people and resources that will help us get to where folks need to be.

Luke Peters: Makes a lot of sense. In talking with, I mean, you kind of touched on a lot of these points. I kind of changed up this question I was going to ask you in the end. Because I really want the audience to kind of come away with something they can use in their business, which we’ve already talked about a lot of those things.

Luke Peters: So I’ll change this one up a little bit and I guess if somebody is not in Lowe’s, you’ve shared a lot about your business and successes and even a lot about what companies need to think about when they pitch and when they’re in store, but I guess, in this one, what’s the best place for them to start and how are they going to be most likely successful if they’re not in Lowe’s right now, but they want to get a strategy. They want to find a way to get in there?

Tim Gilmer: Well, I would say the first place to store it would be in the store. And I mean physically in the stores. If you’re not spending time in the stores and in there in a Lowe’s store and in their competitor stores, understanding how your product fits within that store or what you can serve that the other guy cannot or what they are missing and be able to demonstrate that, you’re going to have a difficult time once you get face to face with the merchant or a decision maker if you’re not knowledgeable about the retail environment and their stores in particular, and how you can make a difference in the store. You want to present not only just a strategy to, “Hey, here’s a great product,” but here’s a great product. Here’s how it fits within your store. Here’s how it wants to be processed through your distribution centers. The whole nine yards has to be a well thought out. It can’t be just, “Hey, I’ve got a great product.” It’s got to be, “Hey, I have a great product and here’s how we’re going to make it a great product for Lowe’s.”

Tim Gilmer: That’s the beginning places in the store and getting the feedback from the associates and hearing what they have that are challenges and how you can meet that need with your product to overcome those challenges.

Luke Peters: Yeah. It’s funny as sometimes or actually most of the time in business it’s sad, but most of the time in business it’s the obvious things just like that. I mean that was a great answer, which is … if you want to get in there, you’ve got to spend some time in there, really understand their business and then align with them. Because they’re your customer and then their customers are your customer. But that’s a great answer. And it comes at it from a more strategic way of thinking, I guess, than some quick tactical answers.

Luke Peters: So I like that one. And that’s great because we actually did that with the opportunity that we’re working with you on. We kind of, pulled in the whole lineup of who was in there and took them apart over here at the warehouse and looked at all their features and looked at where they are priced and all the different offerings. And that’s kind of what we built around. So I like that. That’s a good way to think.

Luke Peters: Listen, I want to thank you, Tim. I think we’ve gone through so many useful things here and hopefully the audience has gained a lot of value from this. But before I let you go, I want to kind of let you say, if there’s … how the audience can get ahold of you, is there a primary way of LinkedIn or Email or anything you wanted to mention there?

Tim Gilmer: Yeah, well, I have a LinkedIn profile under Tim Gilmer that they can find. But our office is located in Gainesville, Georgia. And the easiest way probably to get me is LinkedIn and send a message through there and if somebody needs some advice or wants to talk to us, we’re happy to talk to them. Honestly, we don’t super often take on a lot of new things and I know that sounds crazy. We’ve really been focused on growing the things that we do with Lowe’s and we don’t try to do too many things.

Tim Gilmer: So I mean more often than not, it seems that we even recommend advise the folks on how they can do something, but maybe we don’t even end up working with them. But I think that comes back to us if we’re just honest with people and that’s what we try to be. We just try to be very honest with people about what we think the opportunity is or how they could best go about achieving their opportunities. And that may not be with us.

Tim Gilmer: But we find that if we’re very honest and forthright with people the factories we represent and the customers that we call on it serves as well. And so I would say through LinkedIn they can get ahold of myself or even my business partner, Jim Lamb, and we’d be happy to talk to anybody or give them some advice.

Luke Peters: Wonderful. Well, listen, Tim, I just want to thank you for joining me on the Page One Podcast. It really enjoyed it and I hope you did as well.

Tim Gilmer: I really did. Thank you for the opportunity. I appreciate it.

Luke Peters: You got it.

Speaker 1: Thanks for listening to the Page One Podcast with Luke Peters. If you like our show and want to know more, check out our other segments. Also, please help us out by leaving us a rating on iTunes. Want to learn more about our commerce, check out www.retailband.com to get more great tips and tricks on how to accelerate your eCommerce sales with the big-box retailers.

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