So we can’t yet buy booze legally, but we can vote and get prosecuted as an adult…so we got that going for us.
Yes, The Farm has turned 20. In late 1999, our company was incorporated as TroutFarm Technical Sales, Inc. That is still our legal name. It doesn’t mean anything. The biggest website at the time was Yahoo. Google was up and coming. Alta Vista was crushing it. So, I like to catch trouts. Hence the silly name.
Let’s take a fond look back at what we were repping at that time.
DOD Guitar Pedals… DOD made fine products like “Meat Box” and “Gonkulator”. Many of our dealers had shag carpeting in their stores, and black and white TV’s with Jenny Jones playing.
Ramsa Mixing Consoles and Whatnot… Remember Ramsa? The pro audio division of Panasonic? I just went to their website. It still exists…but after winning some nice awards from them, they sent me a very nice Fedex letter saying “We wish you luck in your future endeavors”. During one sales meeting, the manager was agitated at the lack of sales of the new speakers. His rant contained the words “even John Hood can sell these”.
Lekson.. This was one of my dumber ideas. I decided that it would be a good idea to try to break into the physical security market. Lekson was reasonably priced cctv stuff. We sold exactly zero. “We wish you luck in your future endeavors”….
Allen and Heath Mixers…analog. They promptly were purchased by Harman, and boom, we got a future endeavors letter. Then, they broke free of Harman and hired us back… but alas, we took on Digico and got another “future endeavors” letter. So we have been fired twice in one region and once in another, meaning we have been canned 3 times from the same brand. That is some kind of a record. Not a good one…but a record, none the less.
The job of a Manufacturer’s Rep has changed dramatically in my 26 years of doing it. We used to be the primary conduit for ALL product info. If you wanted a price list, we mailed it to you. Then we faxed it to you. I had a pager, and I used some sort of a service at payphones to call you instead of using change. I never had enough change, and the “calling card” was a game-changing technology that really made repping a breeze. Dang…I am old.
Fast forward to now. We have a team of 5 developers in Hyderabad India working on our website and CRM literally every day. There are 17 full time Farmers in the US…and we are looking for more. We are no longer the primary conduit for the “WHAT” but we are now the primary conduit for the “how”.
Here is the big take-away. I have been doing this for 26 years, and I have been the owner for 20 years. And today I love it more than I ever have. This made-up career, this invented service of “outsourced sales” has been an amazing experience. As reps, we get to meet, know and work side-by-side with the people we choose. Our resellers, our factories…we choose them. We pick. We hang around all day working, learning, creating with the people we want to. So, when we are working with you, it is because we WANT TO, not because we have to. Not a lot of people get to say that in their jobs. So when your Farm rep is there and seems unrealistically happy, it is real. We are happy you let us in to see you. We are happy to be your reps, and we happily look forward to the next 20 years.
Note: I will be 300 years old (rep years) in 20 more years.