MRN Connects With Exhibitors at 2016 SEMA Show

SEMA Member News—January 2017

MRN Connects With Exhibitors at 2016 SEMA Show

By Katie Carson

  MRN Hall of Fame
Les Rudd (right) of Bob Cook Sales and a member of the SEMA Board of Directors was inducted into the MRN Hall of Fame.

The Manufacturers Representative Network (MRN) spent time interacting with first-time exhibitors at the 2016 SEMA Show. The MRN select committee represented the manufacturers’ rep profession as a whole. Walking the exhibit space of the Performance Pavilion and the Westgate on Friday morning of the Show, they stopped at each booth to pass out bagels and Red Bull for a “last day of the Show” boost.

The select-committee members also shared with the manufacturers their expertise on successfully handling and following up on SEMA Show sales leads. They inquired if the exhibitors’ businesses utilized independent sales reps and talked to them about exactly what reps can do for their businesses and the benefits they will see from adding independent sales reps to their current sales forces.

The goal of this outreach program, entitled “Rep Match Gives You Leads,” was to make connections with first-time manufacturing exhibitors to ensure that they had a successful SEMA Show, while educating them about what manufacturers’ reps are and the benefits of working solely with outside agencies or folding them into their current internal sales teams.

MRN RepMatch

MRN RepMatch
MRN select-committee members participated in an outreach program promoting the MRN RepMatch program to first-time exhibitors at the SEMA Show.

RepMatch is MRN’s latest tool, which benefits independent sales reps as well as manufacturers. The free program connects reps to manufacturers who are looking for product representation. Sales leads are sent directly to the more than 60 agencies that have opted in to the free program. Get your agency signed up today at

How does it work? When a manufacturing company signs up to participate in the RepMatch program, it provides information about the territory it needs coverage in, the types of products it is looking to market in that territory, and the targeted market segment. That information is then sent directly to the manufacturers’ rep agencies that have opted in. It is up to the agency to follow up on that lead and begin a conversation with the manufacturer, should the lead be a good fit.

The MRN also held an awards ceremony on Thursday morning of the SEMA Show to honor those who have greatly impacted the rep segment of the industry.

MRN Hall of Fame Inducts Les Rudd of Bob Cook Sales

Les Rudd has been in the automotive industry his entire adult life, with a background in the warehouse distributor, jobber and manufacturer levels of the industry. He currently serves as the president of Bob Cook Sales. He maintains close contact with manufacturer clients and is responsible for most of the structure of the organization. His experience in manufacturing gives him a well-rounded perspective of the market.

Rudd has dedicated a great deal of time and energy to promoting SEMA and, specifically, MRN and its previous incarnation, the Manufacturers Rep Council (MRC). Rudd was part of the original group of reps who met in Chicago to lay out the proposal for the original MRC. As a past MRC and MRN chairman, Rudd was the face of the MRC/MRN organization and fought for the group’s collective needs in the SEMA organization.

Rudd regularly mentors his fellow industry professionals with passion and pride, from both a volunteer perspective and a manufacturers’ rep perspective. Under his many years of leadership, he has helped the MRN/MRC achieve new goals and launch many key initiatives. Rudd was recently elected to serve on the SEMA Board of Directors for the manufacturers’ representative category.

MRN Honors KC HiLiTES With the STAR Award

  MRN STAR Award
Travis White (right) accepted the MRN STAR Award on behalf of KC HiLiTES.

The Sales Team Annual Recognition (STAR) award is presented to the most outstanding manufacturer’s sales team, as nominated by the general membership of MRN. The winner must conform to the following criteria:

  • Provide timely and accurate updates on products and company policies
  • Consider manufacturers’ reps and customers’ comments when developing products and forecasting
  • Provide reps with necessary strategies, including samples, sales literature and competitive comparisons

The winner of the 2016 MRN STAR award was KC HiLiTES, which consistently provides new product and pricing information. The company’s staff understands and listens to the reps’ concerns regarding jobber-level calls as well as calls at the warehouse-distributor level and is always willing to spend time in the field traveling with the reps to ensure success.

Since 1970, KC HiLiTES has designed and manufactured auxiliary performance lighting for off-road vehicles. As the original manufacturer of off-road lighting, beginning with the Daylighter, the company has built a solid reputation for quality and performance. KC HiLiTES was started by American entrepreneur Peter Kim Brown and his wife Carol Brown (using their initials, KC) in his garage in Saugus, California. Today, KC HiLiTES is still all about quality and customer service.

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