Representor Winter 2020 - Someone You Should Know

Someone You Should Know: Dennis Gagné, CPMR

Dennis Gagné, CPMR
President and Owner
Engineering Solutions – West (ES-West)

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 Dennis Gagné, CPMR, President and Owner of ES-West, a Northern California-based manufacturers’ representative firm.

The Representor asked Dennis a few questions about his time in the electronics rep business and his experiences with ERA. Here is what he had to say.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in the Monterey Bay area of Northern California and obtained an ASET degree from West Valley College in Saratoga. I then graduated from Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo with a B.S. in Electronic Engineering. I worked in the engineering department of Ziatech Corp. for four years before transferring to the technical support group, where I went on to manage four application engineers and provide direct support for Ziatech’s sales representatives. This is where I learned about the rep industry and decided that I would move into that field. I gained experience in direct sales at a Northern California rep firm, Amasco, where I worked for three years. I then went to Anthem Electronics as a FAE for one year before co-founding Engineering Solutions – West in 1994. I completed my Certified Professional Manufacturers Rep (CPMR) training in 2002, at Arizona State University.

What are some things you enjoy outside of the workplace?

I enjoy all sorts of outdoor activities, I am an avid windsurfer, love to play tennis and do plenty of running, and snow skiing. Pretty much anything outdoors is my passion.

How long have you been an ERA member and how long in the rep business?

I have been in the rep business for 28 years and have been a member for about 23 of them.

How did you become interested in being a rep in the electronics industry?

As I stated above, I was supporting our reps at Ziatech, which was a board and systems level computer manufacturer, as the tech support manager. I was able to travel and visit with many reps across the country and learn about many new applications. The diversity and variety of the type of customers we interacted with really attracted me to this field. That variety has been what has held my interest for the past almost 30 years.

Briefly describe your rep firm.

ES-West is based in the heart of the Silicon Valley. Our office is right next to the San Jose Airport which gives us a prime location for principals and customers visiting the area. We are a small group of five individuals. We carry a mix of OEM computer solutions as well as reliability test equipment. We have always tried to keep the number of lines on our line card as small as possible to allow us to focus our time on our important principals so we can excel at our jobs.

What have you found to be most rewarding about the rep business?

I think the biggest rush I get from this job is helping a customer with their project and seeing it through to completion and success in the marketplace. Having these same customers come back to us year after year for their next projects is very satisfying as well.

What recent innovations, best practices and/or changes has your firm made?

We work hard at our communications with our principals. This is an area we are always trying to improve on. We use our CRM and email communications to share information on important customers real time to our principals. We also have recently been adding some younger sales engineers to the firm. We are trying to revitalize the firm and pre-pare it for succession down the road.

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 have been active in our local chapter, Northern California ERA (NCALERA), and this has offered me a great opportunity to network with my fellow reps in the Northern California territory. We share information about lines, discuss contract issues, employee is-sues, etc., and it helps bolster our direction and decisions. I was also the president of NCALERA Chapter last year and spent some time with ERA CEO Walter Tobin. He is a great resource and continues to guide ERA with great skill.

Are you active on social media? Do you follow ERA? Have ERA updates via social media been helpful to you?

No, I wouldn’t say that I am very active on social media. I mainly use LinkedIn when trying to connect with new companies. My family tries to get me to use Facebook, but I find it takes up too much time with non-productive activities.

What is one interesting fact that people may not know about you?

My first job out of college was at the Thule Air Base in Greenland. I was a civilian contractor working for a firm maintaining the computers at their BMEWS (Ballistic Missile Early Warning System) radar installation. We were about 50 miles from the Artic Circle. I lasted about six months, before I had to return to civilization.