I was a dog food palletizer. I was good at it. Stacked up dog food on the pallets and wrapped it up in shrink wrap. Put the heavy stuff on the bottom, light on the top.
Once in a while, at the dog food warehouse, the sales guys would show up. They had company cars and dog food golf shirts. I wanted to be one of them. When I heard about a sales person job at a music store (for $3.35 hr) I jumped at the chance.
That is where I first met Jim Matthews. His smile was larger than life. He had already done sound for real rock stars. He was an accomplished drummer. He had no reason to treat me as a peer or an equal…but he did. He did 30 years ago. He did when I last spoke to him 6 weeks ago. I had no idea it would be the last time I was to hear his voice.
Sales should not be a dirty word. We don’t have to hide behind “account exec” or “regional manager”. We are sales people. Jim was in sales. Jim was a gentleman. Jim was larger than life. Jim was a hero. And he was in sales.
In my region, Jim Matthews may have been the last of the true gentleman sales reps. We relied on his brands because we relied on Jim. Everyday I try to live that life. Sometimes I feel like I am getting close to the awesome that was Jim Matthews, but I have a very long ways to go.
So today, as I drive around practicing that trade that I love, I think of seeing Jimmy at a NAMM show. I had won the QSC rep of the year award and Jim had won the JBL rep of the year award. I am 100% certain that Jim Matthews was happier for me than he was for himself. As I walked toward him down the crowded aisle at the show, his smile was like a beacon. In the sport-coat and jeans….and the damn orange JBL lanyard. He was that guy. Never faking it.
I think about factories “going direct” or “not using reps anymore”. Then I think of Jim. Jim was a reputation. If he was your guy, that was all you needed to know.
I suspect his team at PLUS 4 Marketing is going to be amazing long into the future. They have a great team and rep great lines. They are going to come out of this stronger and better after being taught by the very best. If you agree with me, do me a favor – pick up the phone and tell them so. Jim was not into self-promotion. He was quietly excellent. He knew that we knew. He certainly knew how much I admired him.
This might be the time to finally promote PLUS 4. They are a west coast tradition and will be here long into the future. So, call them up and let them know you want them to visit and show you some cool gear.