Representor Summer 2022 - Executive Commentary


So, what’s next, coach?

Walter Tobin

by Walter E. Tobin, ERA CEO

So here we are, in the middle of summer, back from the excitement of EDS. Our business cards filed, action items done and followed up on, perhaps more than once. We reconnected with old friends on follow up emails and we’re sorting out our plans for the second half of 2022.

So, what’s next, coach?

Are you experiencing a bit of EDS withdrawal? Now that both the ERA Conference and the EDS Summit are over, it is back to the reality of our business – where expedites are still coming, product is still tight and COVID-19 is still here.

But what is different? Lots! We made it through 2020 and 2021 and now that 1H 2022 is in our rearview mirrors, we find ourselves as better salespeople and better managers. We are more organized and we’re getting really good at video conferencing. We got this!

So, is this it? Are we now in our “new normal,” “new abnormal” or whatever you want to call it? Like that old song said: “Is that all there is?”

We have been so focused on getting ready for the new times, pivoting, skating where the puck is going, learning new ways of doing things, etc. – is it now time to just do our jobs and do what we are good at? Which is, opening new accounts, visiting our customers and distributor branch offices, getting on airplanes and getting back to normal times, even if they are still a bit unsettled.

We are all back together and looking forward to summer vacations, even if airfares are up, the cost of gas is up, hotel rates are up. It’s time to just get back to our normal cadence: work, sleep, vacation and repeat as needed. Is all right with our world? Not yet, but we are getting close. We all need to try and focus on the things that are right and capitalize on them and try to deal with the remaining issues as “one-offs” as best we can. We will have some setbacks for sure – folks will still get COVID-19 or some latest version, but hopefully vaccines and treatments will prevent death. We will quarantine for the appropriate period of time, and then get back out there carefully and take good care of ourselves and others – but get back out there nonetheless.

How we handle ourselves and our “book of business” will determine the results for 2H 2022 and 2023. There will be lots of eyes on you as you set the tone for yourself and your company. Your team members will be looking to you for guidance and leadership. Your customers will also be challenging you for support in new design help and supply chain guidance. They, too, will be trying to get back to some normalcy and will be seeing who they can rely on to deliver the levels of support that they were used to prior to COVID…or perhaps even more now! By being totally transparent and supportive, you may be able to gain ground on your competition who may be taking a more cautious approach.

Your manufacturers seem to be getting many of the supply chain challenges behind them. They are now looking to you to gain new sockets and manage the open backlog; to execute and deliver regardless of any issues.

Let’s all focus on looking out the wind-shield of our industry versus the rear-view mirror. What is past is past – we have learned a lot in the past two years.

Let’s not focus any more energy on trying to get good at virtual selling, Zoom calls or hiring, onboarding and managing remote/work-from-home employees. Those who have not gotten all of this down pat by now probably never will. If these folks are your competition, make hay while the sun shines.

Let’s not focus on our past woes and issues. What other industry would you rather be in? There is no other industry that offers more excitement and opportunity along with its many challenges. This is why you are here – manage the challenges!

The demand for electronic components is exploding! Dust off your business costumes, fill up your car with $6-per-gallon gas, drive to your customer, fly to meetings and get at it! It is time to look ahead – fearlessly, but with good judgement!

This is what your coach is telling you: Tighten your belts and continue to march.