Burton made significant changes in its California sales structure last week. The goal was to improve the service and communication between the California markets and Burton’s base in Burlington, Vermont. “We are making a mental shift towards the west in nearly everything we are doing,” says Dave Schmidt, Burton’s VP of Sales. Burton management was called to action by progressive Southern California retailers who want to see Burton continue to succeed, but were feeling a disconnect with the core operations of the company. “We heard it in nearly every meeting we had at the SIA show in Vegas: get more involved in our local market,” says Burton VP of Marketing David Schriber. Burton utilized the early summer months to create a new plan for California. Last week, it was set in motion as postings went up for new independent reps, and the announcement was made that Burton’s Northern California rep, Laurent Vrignaud would be acting as the Regional Manager going forward. “We’ve seen that Laurent can build relationships, service accounts, and find great people. Although he remains an independent representative of the company, he will also assist in setting up the new structure and improving service in Southern Cal,” says Schmidt. The snowboarding industry puts a heavy marketing emphasis on the reps’ duties; they are expected to be passionate participants in their local markets, all year long. “Retailers respect those reps who frequent their shops, assist in sales training and merchandising, and support local riders,” according to Burton’s National Sales Manager Clark Gundlach. “We’re making steps to ensure this happens by more than doubling the number of reps we have in that market and greatly reducing the number of storefronts serviced by each rep. We’ll also have individuals who will be committed to making sure that Burton and snowboarding are going off in his or her territory.” To achieve this, Burton’s reps will be much more involved in local events. “We want our reps to be at the heart of the local scene including doing some of our own events. We want to hear more from the riders and shop staff who might have felt like they would not get heard before,” says Schriber. “We’re building a better, smaller pro team with a face and we want to get these riders into shops more frequently, to support the dealers and the local riders. Basically, we want to be the company we believe we are: a rider-driven company, no matter where you go,” he adds. Burton is currently networking to locate their new rep force, and working with some existing reps to reconfigure their territories and business operations. In addition to California, Arizona and Nevada will be included in the restructuring.
“We’re going to share resources between territories, like sample sets, showrooms, and demo fleets, where possible. That way, the reps can operate with smaller organizations, and spend more time in shops and at the mountain,” Gundlach explains. “Ultimately, this means we would have a couple of west coast offices that can service dealers and riders from within the territory, in addition to what we already are doing (and will continue to do) out of Vermont.”
“When this is all done, we will have a party like you’ve never seen, at a place within California that says Burton on the door,” says Schriber. What about the rest of the country?
“Everyone on the sales team will be working from the same set of goals- to raise the level of service given to each shop and to be more active in local marketing. All the reps will be stepping it up,” says Gundlach.
Burton plans to have the changes completed in a matter of weeks, as the retail snowboard season wakes up hungry from its summer hibernation. They’ll need to be ready: as snowboarding continues unprecedented growth entering its fifth decade. Snowboarding’s second trip to the Olympics, in Park City, Utah, is less than two years away and riders currently account for nearly one-third of resort visits.