SEMA Rep Community Active at 2015 Show

SEMA Member News—January/February 2016

SEMA Rep Community Active at 2015 Show

Rep Roundtable

  MRN Hall of Fame

Jeff Bates (center right) of Bob Cook Sales was inducted into the MRN Hall of Fame. On hand for the ceremony were (from left) SEMA Director of Networks Bryan Harrison, MRN Chair Les Rudd, Bates, and Chair-Elect Vic Bennett.


The SEMA Manufacturers’ Representative Network (MRN) hosted a collection of business-critical roundtable discussions for reps on November 2 at the SEMA Show. The attendees had the opportunity to ask questions and receive practical solutions that addressed real issues. The event also included a group discussion on trending topics. The discussions included:

  • How to handle private-equity acquisitions and management
  • The three biggest challenges facing reps today and tomorrow
  • How to be a great rep in the e-commerce market
  • Wealth management for reps
  • Tools and trends for a mobile workforce
  • Team development on the go

Two MRN awards were presented during the roundtable, including an MRN Hall of Fame induction and the Sales Team Annual Recognition (STAR) award.

MRN Hall of Fame

To be nominated for the MRN Hall of Fame, a candidate must have been involved in the industry for a minimum of 10 years, made significant contributions toward enhancing the professionalism, dignity and/or general stature and growth of the manufacturers’ rep industry, and have acted with a high degree of integrity within the industry. The inductee for 2015 was Jeff Bates of Bob Cook Sales.


The MRN’s 2015 Sales Team Annual Recognition was awarded to Big Country/Go Rhino. B.J. Leanse accepted the award on behalf of the team.


Bates began his rep career in the mid-’80s with Sam Compton & Associates. He moved to Bob Cook Sales in 1989. His experience began in his home state of Pennsylvania, where he worked for retailers and wholesalers in the performance aftermarket before he moved to the Charlotte area.

Bates handles a diverse customer base that includes large performance warehouses, niche marketers, professional race teams, engine builders and the Advanced Auto Parts retail chain. He enjoys a strong relationship with NASCAR and the circle-track racing industry based in and around Charlotte.

Bates serves on the SEMA Board of Directors as well as on its executive committee. He has received multiple awards from both customers and the warehouse-distributor and manufacturer sides of the industry. He also serves as the lead for many manufacturers during negotiations with NASCAR and other categories of racing.

Bates lives and breathes the rep industry. His service to SEMA, the MRN and other industry organizations makes him a natural fit for the MRN Hall of Fame.

STAR Award

The Sales Team Annual Recognition (STAR) award is presented to the year’s most outstanding manufacturers’ sales team, as voted by the general membership of the MRN. Among other elements, the comprehensive criteria include dealing professionally with manufacturers’ representatives, providing timely and accurate updates on products and company policies, introducing new products and updated products as demand warrants, and considering manufacturers’ representatives and customers’ comments when developing products and forecasting. The award for 2015 went to Big Country/Go Rhino. B.J. Leanse accepted the award on behalf of the team.

Leanse and his group are very hands-on and always available. They welcome feedback and are willing to go above and beyond for customer requests. They are known to make jobber calls and work tradeshows to accomplish goals.

Big Country/Go Rhino provides a number of sales tools, including displays, POPs in a pizza box, and a truck that can be rotated around the country. It can be used for everything from trade shows to jobber calls.

MRN Rep Room in SEMA Central

As an added luxury for the MRN, its members were able to enjoy their own space within the SEMA Member’s Lounge, an area exclusive to SEMA members where they could grab hot or cold lunches, network and take a break from the Show. Any member of the MRN was able to have a place to rest and enjoy meals, network and catch up on e-mails.

“The MRN Rep Room is a wonderful and exclusive member benefit that has proven to act as an asset for rep agencies,” said SEMA Director of Networks Bryan Harrison. “The benefits include lead generation, a quiet area for business practices and an excellent location to build community with like-minded professionals.”

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