Added Sales Co.

Added Sales Co.’s business is focused on products, but its success really depends on its people, President Jim Tracey says. “We treat our employees the way we want to be treated ourselves,” he says. “In return, what we get is excellent work and loyalty.”

Based in Wood Dale, Ill., Added Sales represents 15 companies that manufacture plumbing, heating and electrical products. The company started operations in 1953, during “the infancy of the rep business in the Chicagoland area,” Tracey says. “Our company was probably the first to take plumbing into the hardware side of the business.”

Today, Added Sales operates as the sales arm of its manufacturers. “We bring those products to market,” he says, noting that the company has a retail hardware division and a wholesale division, which serves both wholesalers/developers and the trade.

Business Lifeblood

A 38-year veteran of the industry, Tracey joined Added Sales in 1981 and praises its current team. “We’ve been very fortunate,” he says, noting its employees pride themselves on providing strong customer service. “Every Monday we wake up, we have to justify how we fit into the food chain. I constantly preach to our people, ‘Our job is to make our customer’s job easier.’”

He adds that its employees enjoy working at Added Sales, which has a family focused environment. “My philosophy is family comes first,” he says. “If you have a sick child or a family issue, that needs to take the priority.”

Because of this attitude, employees have stayed loyal. “We don’t have a transient workforce,” Tracey says. “The guy that called you 10 years ago, trying to make your life easier, is still the guy calling you today.”

The longevity of its people, he adds, gives Added Sales a level of expertise that makes it more competitive. “Our people are very well trained and experienced,” Tracey says. “I would put our people up against anyone in the Chicagoland area.” 

Added Sales recently showed its own loyalty to its associates during the recent economic downturn, Tracey explains. “I’m very proud of the fact that we didn’t lay anybody off when things got tough,” he recalls. “I think that speaks volumes about us as a company.

“I know full well that our people have rent to pay and kids to feed,” Tracey says, noting that the company managed to keep its workers by cutting costs. “We’re in the human resource business, and our lifeblood is our people.”

Changing Channels

Added Sales strives to stay abreast of market changes, Tracey says. “You always have to have your head on a swivel to make sure you’re current with industry needs,” he says. ”You have to be where you need to be to grow the business.”

But this is not always easy, Tracey admits. “The difficulty is no one has a crystal ball,” he says. “No one knows what’s going to happen 36 months down the road. You have to try to position yourself in a way so that employees can take advantage of the trends in the marketplace.”

The latest trend is that Added Sales’ clients have asked it to find new channels and opportunities for their products. In addition to the retail and wholesale markets, “Now we call on developers, builders, architects and engineers,” Tracey says.

“Most reps that are successful today operate like a turnkey operation,” he says. “Whatever channel needs to be called upon, we have the wherewithal and the talent to do it.” 

Tracey sees a challenging future ahead for the Rep industry. “It’s going to be very hard/challenging for the smaller agencies to continue to have the [ability/wherewithal] to do what the manufacturers are asking,” he predicts.

Although Added Sales has numerous tools, “We have to focus those on where we can do the best for our company,” he says. “It would be very hard [for a new company] to get into our segment of the business today, ramp up and get involved.”

Added Sales also will need to stay adaptable to its clients’ needs, Tracey adds. “The companies that are winning today are turning information the quickest and showing a degree of flexibility,” he says. “They’re willing to color outside the lines.” q

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