The Representor, Spring 2017 – Someone You Should Know
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With so many ERA members, it is not easy to get to know every rep, manufacturer and distributor in the business.“Someone You Should Know” is The Representor department that gives readers the chance to learn about fellow ERA members, including how their time is spent both in and out of the office.
Meet Michael Jacobsen, president of Jacobsen Associates Inc., a second-generation, family-owned and operated company located in Horsham, Pa.
The Representor asked Michael a few questions about his time in the rep business and his experiences with ERA. Here is what he had to say.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I live and grew up in the northeast suburbs of Philadelphia. I am a graduate of Bloomsburg University located in northcentral Pennsylvania. I majored in marketing with double minors in business administration and economics. I spent my years prior to joining the rep business working in advertising.
What are some things you enjoy outside of the workplace?
I am a bit of a history buff and am fascinated with World War II, the Civil War, Ancient Rome, as well as Norse and Roman mythology. I like to draw and paint, enjoy playing golf, and spend as much time as I can at the Jersey shore.
How long have you been an ERA member and how long in the rep business?
Jacobsen Associates, Inc. (JAI) has been a part of ERA for more than 35 years. I joined JAI eight years ago and ERA shortly thereafter. I really enjoy being in the rep business. I like the flexibility of being able to manage my time and yet have the ability to change direction on a moment’s notice. I enjoy working with the principals, customers, distributors and getting to know other reps throughout the industry. It is such a great group of people, and I feel honored to be a part of it.
How did you become interested in being a rep in the electronics industry?
I grew up in the industry. Some of my earliest memories are of putting our company address labels on principal literature. I remember when my father first started the business in our home; we transformed our living room and front porch into a suite of offices. We had an interview for a product line, and my father had to lock our Irish Setter in the Suburban in our back yard so they wouldn’t hear him barking. We got the line and still have it to this day.
The first 10 years of my career were spent working in marketing and advertising. After college, I wanted to establish myself outside of the family business and I did well, working my way up to running the advertising department for a business credit card company. We designed those wonderful credit card solicitations you get in the mail (you are welcome). In 2008, the company went from more than a 1,000 employees down to less than 100. I was one of the last to go before they closed doors. I had several opportunities to continue working in advertising, but JAI’s business was expanding. I had always had a strong desire to be in business for myself and thought it presented a great opportunity.
What have you found to be most rewarding about the rep business?
There is no doubt that the rep business is a huge challenge. Technology changes at such a rapid pace, and Michael Knight’s presentation at the latest ERA Conference in Austin, Texas, certainly highlighted that fact. You have to find ways to differentiate yourself and continue to evolve in this business. I enjoy meeting with fellow reps throughout the country, creating lasting friendships, and learning best practices from one another, as well as through the many resources ERA has to offer.
Briefly describe your rep firm.
JAI is an interconnect, passive and electromechanical rep firm with a design-in focus covering the Mid-Atlantic and Chesapeake markets. We are a second-generation, family-owned and operated company, and we are proud to say that we represent companies that have been with us for more than 30 years.
What recent innovations, best practices and/or changes has your company made?
Over the past few years we have redesigned our website, line card and created a LinkedIn company page. We developed principal-specific banner ads embedded into our emails. We have created email and direct mail marketing campaigns and utilize resources such as EverNote, DropBox, Constant Contact, Hoovers and Lexis Nexis. We are always exploring new ways to promote the companies that we represent and finding new ways to communicate effectively and efficiently with our customers.
What have you learned and/or what contacts have you made through ERA that have had the greatest positive impacts on you and/or your business?
I really respect the leadership in ERA. They have done a tremendous job to revitalize the organization. Events such as EDS and the ERA Conference provide so much opportunity to get to know fellow reps and learn from one another. It’s hard not to respect self-made individuals who are willing to share their great ideas.
Are you active on social media? Do you follow ERA? Have ERA updates via social media been helpful to you?
We are active on several social media platforms, and we do follow ERA on LinkedIn and Facebook. The ERA updates are helpful in that they provide a continuous education whether it is regarding changes in the industry, technology advancements, succession planning or principal/representative contract language. It is absolutely essential to continuously evolve in this business, and we appreciate the resources ERA provides in helping each and every one of us succeed.
What is one interesting fact that people may not know about you?
I have backpacked through different parts of Europe three times.