R.C. Bremer Marketing Associates Inc.

RC BremerR.C. Bremer’s focus on staying current makes it a leader.
By Alan Dorich

For 35 years, R.C. Bremer Marketing Associates Inc. has kept its employees focused on working hard. “Everyone asks, ‘What do you expect out of your employees?’” President Joe Falk says.

“My answer to that is to get out of bed and go to work every day,” he explains. “If you can get your employees to abide by that simple rule, [your sales will grow].”

Based in Kenosha, Wis., the manufacturer’s representative firm specializes in the sales and marketing of industrial, safety and fire products, including flashlights, glasses, gloves and ventilation equipment. Founder Robert Charles Bremer founded the company in 1982.

Today, R.C. Bremer represents multiple manufacturers, including Streamlight Inc., Allegro Industries and Gateway Safety Inc. “We consider ourselves top notch compared to what some of the other agencies are doing around us,” Falk says.

Critical Changes

Falk joined R.C. Bremer in 1997 after graduating from college. “I was brought in to do end-user work and do training on fall protection,” he recalls, adding that he later took on a sales role.

In 2007, Robert Bremer approached Falk about buying the company. “He was just ready to retire, and he came to me with an opportunity that I couldn’t refuse,” he says, noting that he has made many changes to R.C. Bremer under his tenure.

“I’ve flipped the entire agency,” he says, explaining that he added a new staff, expanded R.C. Bremer’s markets and implemented a customer relationship management system. He also launched the company’s marketing program, which includes e-blasts and video training for its customers, along with other new product and promotion processes.

Staying current, he notes, is essential to R.C. Bremer’s leadership in the market. “If you don’t have time to work on new opportunities or new markets, you’re going to be stagnant,” he declares.

“You need to stay ahead of it and be proactive,” he continues. “You can’t assume the business is going to take care of itself. Technology changes quickly, customer relations change quickly and you could have things change overnight.”

Getting Together

Technology has impacted R.C. Bremer’s industry in recent years, Falk says. Although it was once easy to schedule meetings with distributors to show off new products, “These guys aren’t getting together,” he admits.

Thanks to the Internet and the use of GoToMeeting, “There’s no reason to go to the boardroom anymore,” he says. “It’s becoming difficult to communicate to these sales reps and distributors.” RC Bremer box

The company’s expansion into video training and e-blast programs has helped it “get in front of the distributors and sales reps,” Falk says. R.C. Bremer also has started participating in more meetings via GoToMeeting.

These have boosted business for the company’s inside sales representatives, as opposed to its outside sales staff. “We’re able to touch many more of our customers from our inside than our outside is able to do,” he says. “We can hit 50 to 100 a day.”

R.C. Bremer also has focused more on its relationships with end-users. “At the end-user level, we get more control over the final sale,” Falk says.

“We are building relationships directly with the end-user and pulling the orders through the distributor,” he explains. “By having the relationship at the end-user, you are able to keep your product in their hands no matter which distributor has the contract.”

Ahead of the Curve

Falk is proud of his employees at R.C. Bremer and their work ethic. “I know every one of these employees are getting up every day and using their knowledge to grow the agency,” he says.

“I treat everyone as if they’re part of the family,” Falk continues, asserting that he does not micromanage his employees. “I encourage their viewpoints and I allow them to be heard.”

His employees’ hard work has paid off. Today, R.C. Bremer has an annual growth rate of 15 percent. “That’s definitely ahead of the curve [compared to] what we’re hearing from other industries,” he says.

The company’s industry will continue to evolve going forward, Falk predicts. For example, R.C. Bremer’s customers are putting a greater emphasis on product quality as opposed to price.

“It can be about features and benefits,” he says, noting that the company’s clients want products that will last longer. “[They want to] make it safer for the workers to use [and put] a viable product across the board.”

Although reliance on the Internet will grow, Falk does not believe that the value of face-to-face communication will completely vanish. “At the end of the day, it comes back to basics,” he says. “It’s a matter of building the relationships in the field and being a problem-solver.”

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