Industry Profile: Sales Rep Mike “Gags” Gagliardi
17 Jun, 2008
Industry Profile: Sales Rep Mike “Gags” Gagliardi
Shay: Tell us a little bit about yourself
Gags: My name is Mike Gagliardi, I’ve been known as “Gags” since the 3rd grade and I see no reason to stop now. I’ve been snowboarding since I first stood up on my Flexible Flyer on a golf course in the 60’s. I actually went through college, got an Engineering degree and spent 10 years working in the white man’s world in downtown Chicago. I live in Colorado now and I’m lucky to get to sell fun.
Shay: What is your job title?
Gags: Sales Rep
Shay: What companies do you currently rep for?
Gags: Never Summer, 686, Neff, Bluebird Wax, Ally Video and Drop Gloves.
Shay: What was the first company you were a rep for?
Gags: Barfoot, Blackspoon, Billiard and THM.
Shay: Did your parents question your job choice?
Gags: Well my dad would have questioned it if he was still alive…my mom thought it was interesting and good that I could follow my passion. She wasn’t too stoked that I quit my suit and tie job to work in a snowboard factory, but you gotta start somewhere.
Shay: What was your first set up?
Gags: Beyond my Flexible Flyer? A waterski with the skeg taken off (I did stand sideways on it), then a Snurfer, then the first Burton Cruiser 165 with the Skeg and swallowtail.
Shay: What is your current set up?
Gags: Never Summer 158 SL Rocker, Never Summer 165 Heritage and Never Summer 167 Summit. Union Data or Force bindings, Deeluxe Vicious Boa Boots.
Shay: What was your first job?
Gags: In the industry, I shaped cores for Aggression Snowboards…I basically ran the woodshop by myself. It was a trip coming out of the business world, but I was sooo stoked! No pressure, riding 3 days a week on real mountains, meeting and riding with people I had only seen in mags like Dave Dowd, Steve Link and Morgan Lafonte.
Shay: What’s a great day of snowboarding to you?
Gags: Any day I get a run in. Once I strap into a board, everything else typically drops off unless I carry the cell phone and it rings. Seriously. Riding with Micah, Joey and my team guys…either park at Keystone or Echo, or a bottomless pow day at Loveland, Jackson or wherever. An awesome day last year was Malay Day at Vail….1.5 feet of fresh and rolling through trees with Vail tour guide Ed Herbold, Kind Brother Graves Joey, Nick P, Vondra, Magoon…that was the day this year!
Photo compliments of Mike Gagliardi:
Gag’s recent June session of Mt. Evans, Colorado
Shay: Who are your influences?
Gags: Anyone I see riding who is stoked…Chuck Barfoot! My team guys, fun people in the biz I’ve been fortunate enough to take a lap with. The kid who comes up to me and asks me if I work for Never Summer or 686 and wants a sticker or advice on how to get in the biz…thinking back to where I was…that takes balls.
Shay: How long have you been snowboarding?
Gags: Snurfing since the 70’s. With bindings since 86-87.
Shay: How many days do you get to ride a year?
Gags: It depends, usually I get 50-65 days in. I count the 3 runs I’ll take at the end of a demo as a day.
Shay: What is your role as a rep for those companies?
Gags: Hustle and Flow. Educate and Grow.
Shay: What are the states you rep in?
Gags: CO, NM, UT, WY
Shay: How many days a year do you travel?
Gags: Probably 100-120 when you toss Summer biz and my WWSRA Board of Directors stuff in.
Shay: How many cars have you gone through? Average Miles a year?
Gags: I’m on my 4th, probably 25K a year.
Snow photo…previewing 686 this past January in the Air and Space Museum.
Shay: Do you think it’s challenging for companies to find good reps?
Gags: Yep. In my humble opinion, you need to know the business end and manage that, want to sell, not get bummed out at little shit, have a handle on what’s happening with style, and in order to sell your product you better know how it works. In other words be a better than average rider.
Shay: Do you attend sales meetings? How often?
Gags: Yes, 2 or 3 different ones a year. Plus we all have little meetings before SIA while the booths are being built up around us.
Gags with Never Summer Sales VP Sean Macallister at the Annual Boulder Reunion Party
Shay: How do the average reps get paid?
Gags: Depends on their hustle and flow. Most of us are on commission; so you don’t sell, baby don’t get new shoes. If you work hard and have decent lines, you do well.
Shay: Do you pay for samples? What do you do when you are done with samples?
Gags: Yes and usually some gets flowed out to team or shop guys who are backing you. The rest is sold off “commission recovery”.
Shay: Do you feel your success is based on the companies you rep for?
Gags: In part…a good rep can make a brand, and a good brand can make a rep.
Shay: Has the job become harder or easier since you started?
Gags: Most definitely harder. More demands…tougher business environment, business models are constantly changing, you and the companies you rep for have to evolve.
Shay: What’s the best way to establish connections/relationships with shops?
Gags: Persistence, Tact, Know your shit, get to know everyone from the owner/buyer to the last guy hired, a rack of Pabst, a good joke, and keeping your business model clean. Don’t fuck over the folks backing your stuff when it becomes popular, and don’t stand for shops disrespecting your stuff either and not backing it.
Shay: Do you spend a lot of time doing demos?
Gags: Hell yeah…best part of the job. I love to demo out product and talk to the end consumer or the retailer after they try out something and I love trying out my competitors stuff too.
Shay: How important are demo’s to the companies you work for?
Gags: I know folks go back and forth on this, but I feel it is imperative in hardgoods and in general for marketing. As a consumer, I would not buy a $500 piece of equipment without checking it out…a free demo is a good way. Shops maintaining a demo fleet is another good way, most shops I know of have a program of knocking the demo price off a newly purchased board. I get a kick out of setting up in a plaza and sending a rider out on 2 or 3 boards, maybe they try one of my competitors too and sending them into a shop across the plaza to buy a brand new Never Summer. It’s a marketing thing too…folks roll by, see a big old tent setup and show us the board they bought last year, or a 8 year old board that’s “still going strong” and tell me “I won’t be riding anything else, but I’m getting one next year.” I hand out stickers from 686 and Neff and Bluebird too…The Red Bull guys take care of us and we give out a little of that as well and people are stoked on us. Once in a while, we’ll just fix a binding for someone or hook them up with a leash, it’s direct interaction with consumers and whether they buy that year or not it’s a big stoke and totally worthwhile.
Shay: What is the timeline to your average sales season?
Gags: Preseason sales, ASR, clinics and sales, more clinics, demos, setting up appointments and clinics, preview tradeshow, more calling setting up appointments, tradeshow, demos and calling on the last few appointments, tradeshow, call the people who blew off the tradeshow because it was a powder day and send them brochures, structure out orders and review orders coming in, chasing orders, help write a few more orders for slackers past the deadline, just plain old ride, chase the last 5% of slackers, ride, call the last 10 or 12 slackers, ride, start selling Never Summer longboards and chase 686 spring re-orders, ride, lather, rinse, repeat.
Shay: I understand you have a team who helps you out, who are they and what do they help you with?
Gags: Micah Cook is my partner (I hate the word Sub-rep, reminds me of an old F-buddy in college sub-lady), and also the NS Team Manager and has his own production company. His wife, Sara helps with showing 686 and they both roll Utah for Ally Video. Joey Herman helps with Neff, demos, local sales, and does Ally for Summit and Vail. Nick Decicco also helps with retailer sales, occasional trade shows, paints my house and hucks his meat for the camera. Kevin Gerkin does the same and is also a hard to catch tackling dummy when I play hockey. Then we got Chachi, he spins on the bus. Ryan Cruze is our poster boy/fisherman. Rob Pempin is my man in the Aspen Valley…great help in the mosh pit as well as a demo tent and someone who will ride big mountain and moguls with me. Heather Baroody is the current College Nationals Women’s Champ and our resident Ninja. Dan Shaw is our intellectual coffee grinder/architectural designer of the bunch and a solid representation of what the WPST can and will deliver. Ricky Rodriguez has no job except to freaking rule the Beav. John Sasso on ink, screwdrivers and booze. Brett Summers is the demo tent weight mule. I probably forgot a few people, but I still love you.
Shay: Prior to repping, what other jobs have you held?
Gags: Lets see…in order from birth: Lemonade stand, caddy, dishwasher, sold women’s bras and panties (Really), Carico china door to door salesman (3 days), Corporate headhunter (10 years), woodshop at Aggression, edge/base prep at Aggression/Volant, Rep.
Shay: What’s your average day like at work?
Gags: There are no average days.
Shay: What are some memorable experiences from repping?
Gags: The Malay Day I mentioned, my first time hiking the near country in Jackson Hole, road tripping and riding with Chuck Barfoot, hanging out with Steve Link (“He played 007!”), SIA when Blackspoon put in the daily news that Motley Crue was showing up and I was working the booth solo at that time (great bullshit!), riding 3 feet of pow at the demo at Snowbasin, my first ride on a Never Summer (“oh my god, i’m repping this board!!!”), winning a contest at A-Basin on that first board I got from NS and the turns I made 2 days ago on Mt. Evans.
Shay: How is working as a rep (any cool work events, work environment, job perks)?
Gags: It’s a cruel job, but fair. I get to sell fun, hang with people that like adrenaline, get extreme, road trip to great place and ride, write off buying a 30 rack for a shop, and if I was single…I’d Schtoink a supermodel every night!
Shay: What experience did you have or attributes before getting the job?
Gags: A marked propensity towards dwarfism and sloth.
Shay: What’s the best perk you’ve gotten from your job
Gags: Trading out schwag for lift tickets on a powder day.
Shay: Any disadvantages of your job?
Gags: I do work a lot of 60-70 hour weeks and may miss an event my son is doing…a football game or just hanging out with him. That’s the worst is time away from my wife and son. Plus, if you don’t like driving in snow…I do a lot of 500 mile drives and it’s snowing super hard…It becomes a long day, but I’m good at it. Ipods and books on tape rock!
Shay: Since you started in the snowboard industry, what’s been the biggest change?
Gags: I can turn toeside now.
Really…It’s definitely gotten more corporate, some companies have bought their way around the industry and that’s a two-edged sword. We’re way mainsteam now and the core shop that brought this to us and was way cool to hang out in is slowly edging closer to extinction. That sucks, there are a few of you out there and I’m saying: “hang on, man!” Again, you have to evolve or get eaten.
Product has got much better, lighter, more responsive, individualized. The new reverse camber is insane fun. I’m way stoked we are putting that out now. Clothing has obviously evolved in technical function and style, patterns, jaquards and all on something that’s 20k/15mm and no more scotchguarded jeans or neon with knee and butt pads. Cordura pants with 2 firemans stripes on one leg are a thing of the past…and maybe the future too!
Shay: Do you try out other companies products?
Gags: Hell yes. There is some good stuff my competitors make and some crap, but how can I sell my product if I don’t know what the other guy is doing too. I may not like a board, but I can see how someone else would dig it for their style.
Shay: What’s the busiest time of year for you?
Gags: October 22 to Dec 22 or so and Jan 2 through March 5 or 10.
Shay: Education vs Experience…which do you think is more important?
Gags: From my headhunting days and college days…EXPERIENCE!
Shay: What advice would you give to people wanting to become a rep?
Gags: If you don’t surf…don’t start.
Really, be persistent. Get to know what’s going on around you, read the magazines and blogs, for everything in print and the internet is truth, work in a snowboard shop, pick up a broom and sweep the backshop once in a while, try your sisters board once, pants too, be passionate about the sport, listen well and talk infrequently, rider switch for a full few runs, don’t stand too close to the TV, it will rot your mind and screw up your eyeballs, wear sunscreen…no wait that was Vonnegut…make a dreamcatcher out of switchgrass and attach it to your jacket or pants…and definitely do not ramble on like I did. Blah
Shay: Final thoughts?
Gags: I’m spent…dinners ready. I’m outta here.