Representor Fall 2019 - Someone You Should Know

Someone You Should Know: Kingsland Coombs

Kingsland Coombs, CPMR, CSP
President and Owner
Control Sales Inc.

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 Kingsland Coombs, CPMR, CSP, President and Owner of Control Sales Inc., a manufacturers’ representative organization servicing Northern Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa.

The Representor asked Kingsland 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 am a CompEng graduate from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where I was lucky enough to also play four years of club hockey. I cut my teeth in sales working for Motorola in the semiconductor group. As a rep, my earliest success came in the mid-90s selling power supplies to Motorola when they dominated the cell phone market. I have had the pleasure of being the president and owner of Control Sales since 2015.

What are some things you enjoy outside of the workplace?

Our family life has revolved around our four sons for some time now, and it has been our greatest joy. Now that they are older, I enjoy working out, playing tennis and golf, and occasionally sampling the latest craft beer. I am also a huge Chicago sports fan and love going to games, especially the Cubs and Blackhawks.

We had an amazing trip to Austria and the Czech Republic in March visiting our third son who was studying abroad. We can’t wait to go back and explore more of Europe.

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

I joined my father’s rep business Coombs Associates in 1992 and personally became an ERA member in 1999.

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

I suppose it may have always been in the back of my mind since my father, Sam Coombs, was a rep. He founded Coombs Associates in 1970. He was a very intelligent man with a contagious enthusiasm for electronics. He encouraged me to pursue a computer engineering degree and to work at Motorola. From there, I suppose the entrepreneurial, risk/reward aspect of owning and managing a component rep firm appealed to me.

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

For me, the greatest reward comes from our most fundamental task – working with engineers and solving problems. I love engaging with a customer, digging into their technology and brain-storming solutions to their design challenges. I love to compete, fairly and honestly, against other suppliers and win new business. Nothing else is quite like it for me. Since I have been doing this a long time, I now have the privilege of enjoying long-term relationships with some brilliant people who I deeply respect and admire.

Briefly describe your rep firm.

Control Sales is a 10-person firm with offices in Schaumburg, Ill., and Brookfield, Wisc. We specialize in selling electromechanical components to mid- and large-sized OEM customers. Our primary territory is Illinois and Wisconsin with a few lines servicing Iowa and Minnesota.

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

We have been focused on data analytics for some time now, and I expect our focus to increase. Using our CRM, Excel pivot tables and Power BI, we can see our business at a granular level and analyze larger trends. Our data tools create and analyze first-time buy reports, generate targeted marketing lists, track commissions around the world, and help influence our decision making. We have also dramatically improved our internal communications by implementing Office 365 with a focus on Teams and SharePoint.

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?

The contacts and peer network I have gained from the ERA have been amazing. For instance, my relationship with Bob Evans of EK Micro as a friend and mentor largely grew through many years of ERA events. The Chicagoland-Wisconsin Chapter has vibrant membership with a commitment to quality programs, events and giving back to the greater good. I always learn something I can use and can trace back many of my best practices to ERA discussions. As we enter a period of potentially dynamic change from IoT and Industry 4.0, it is critical to be a part of a strong industry and best practices group.

I have been honored and happy to serve on the ERA Conference Committee and as a co-chair of the 2019 Keynote Speaker and 2020 Breakout Sessions Sub-Committees.

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

I am active on social media and looking to grow my presence. I follow ERA on LinkedIn and plan to continue sharing useful content and start some relevant conversations in the ERA LinkedIn group in 2020.

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

The name Kingsland has been in my family for generations. Family lore is that it can be traced back to a land grant from the King of England after the battle of Hastings in 1066. Can’t say for sure. There is a city block named Kingsland near Brooklyn, N.Y., I have a Kingsland ancestor who fought in the revolutionary war. I had a nun in middle school who refused to call me Kingsland (“King”) without a note from my mother. All things being equal, my name stands out when meeting people, which never hurts in sales!