Forty-Five Years as an Independent Manufacturers’ Rep: A Fun, Rewarding Career

This blog is a summary of Scott Lau’s experiences as president of Marcor Associates, Inc. It is shared so that aspiring reps as well as others in the independent manufacturers’ rep business can gain knowledge that will make them more successful. Brief History With a desire to be an independent manufacturers’ representative for architectural construction materials, I founded Marcor Associates, Inc. in 1975. We have served three distinct customer groups: architects and engineers; general contractors, construction managers and subcontractors; and the manufacturers’ sales and marketing teams that support us. Our primary territory is the State of Virginia, excluding northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. For a few years, we also worked in North Carolina. For a key period of eight years, we worked in northern Virginia, Washington DC, Maryland, and Delaware. Before starting Marcor Associates, I worked for ten years for two large manufacturing companies. This experience, including learning from two important mentors, gave me a well-rounded business background that gave me the confidence to start my own business. Marcor Associates’ history can be captured in five different time periods.  1975-1991 – We experienced rapid growth in sales volume and personnel, based primarily on the volume of one large roofing membrane manufacturer with complimentary sales volumes from numerous other manufacturers of roofing and exterior building products. We grew from a one-man shop to a staff of four sales reps and two sales support people. However, by the end of 1991, because of the demise of the one large roofing membrane manufacturer, we downsized our organization back to a part time sales rep, a support person, and myself. 1992-1997 – We experimented with diversifying into industrial products, representing manufacturers from other countries and providing marketing and sales services for a construction team made up of a general contractor and subcontractors. Although we had some success, the construction team broke up, and one of our major industrial manufacturers decided to change to a direct-hire sales force. Marcor downsized once more, back to a single-employee shop, but this one-person organization became possible because of the new technology developing at the time. Cell phones and the Internet began to impact all industries. 1997-2005 – A friend of mine, with whom I had worked with years earlier, became the sales manager for a new division of another major manufacturing company in the roofing industry. He asked me to join a team of other leading rep organizations throughout the country to launch and build this new division. This presented an exciting opportunity to rebuild Marcor, and we experienced growth for a number of years. However, in 2003, this division was dissolved. Marcor Associates flirted with bankruptcy! 2005-2013 – In 2005, Marcor Associates was awarded a sales...

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