Sign Builder Illustrated November 2016

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SHOP TALK

B Y A S H L E Y B R AY

Brian Vlasich, Yorston & Associates

The Mystery of Manufacturer’s Reps

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rian Vlasich entered the sign industry the way many do—unexpectedly. He answered an ad for a job at aluminum extrusion provider SignComp and spent five years working there in customer service and marketing. After a few years, he felt the need for a change. When a position in the Midwest opened up three years ago at Yorston & Associates, a company of independent manufacturer’s representatives, Vlasich jumped at the opportunity. “I just got tired of being in the cubicle all day and wanted to venture out a little bit,” says Vlasich. “They needed somebody, I needed product, and the rest is history.” A manufacturer’s rep acts for multiple lines and products and serves a dual purpose: to help market and expand the reach of manufacturers and to offer sign companies expertise and solutions. Vlasich currently represents nine companies. “The nice thing about the lines we represent is that they’re all related,” he says. “Because every component we carry works with each other, it’s easy to make a sales call and give all our lines equal time.” Vlasich is on the road making sales calls quite often—nearly every week of the year. He schedules appointments all over his territory and tries to keep a rotation going (although he inevitably visits big cities like Chicago more often). He stops in to visit the manufacturers he rep-

resents when he’s in the area, but his real focus is on distributors and sign companies. “My usual goal is to try to hit six to eight a day,” he says. “As time goes on, and you’ve been in the same market for three years, sometimes your amount of stops goes down for the day, but the value of that one or two stops is huge.” Vlasich says that when he first started, he tried hard not to be the new guy telling the sign veteran what he’s been doing is wrong. Instead he took time to listen, observe, respect their methods, and then try to offer something that could bring more value to a process or project. “If you’re not bringing value to somebody, you’ve got to find a new job,” he says. “The one thing we strive for is to provide a solution, in whatever capacity it may be. “Even if it’s not our product, we still try to find the best solution for the customer.” Vlasich recommends that anyone considering a career as a manufacturer’s rep look into MANA (Manufacturers’ Agents National Association) and also think about joining a rep group like Yorston & Associates. A group can make it easier to get started by providing support and resources versus forging out on your own. “The challenge is always staying extremely organized when your schedule is chaos,” says Vlasich. “It can be grueling yet also very rewarding.”

A manufacturer’s rep offers solutions and expertise to all Photos: yorston & associates.

sign shops.

Brian Vlasich at the recent 2016 SGIA Expo. (Top Left) Ellen Dyar, Bill Yorston, and Amy Walters from Yorston & Associates.

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Sign Builder Illustrated // November 2016

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