One of my first consulting jobs in this business was with Western Nevada Supply in Sparks, Nev. Rick Reviglio, the owner’s son, called and said they had a small showroom that might be breaking even, but not much better than that. He said they either wanted to turn it into a profitable venture or get out of it all together.
It didn’t take long to discover the problem. Almost 100% of their sales were to plumbing contractors and they were being sold at the same deep discounts they were receiving on their wholesale purchases. So the GP margin wasn’t large enough to cover the showroom expenses. I suggested to Rick they do a survey of their top 20 showroom-using contractors and give them the option of either paying a bit more for all showroom purchases or they were going to close the showroom and go back to only true wholesale selling. Reviglio and his team showed these 20 contractors they could make more money by allowing Western Nevada to charge them more. This is how it works:
The old way: The contractor purchases $5,000 list of showroom product at a 40% discount. His cost is $3,000. He adds 10% to that cost and charges his customer $3,300, making $300 profit plus his labor.
The new way: The contractor purchases $5,000 list of showroom product at a 30% discount. His cost is $3,500. He adds 10% to that cost and charges his customer $3,850, making a $350 profit ($50 more) plus his labor.
When the survey was completed, 19 of the 20 contractors told Western Nevada to keep the showroom and they would charge a tad more and make a tad more.
This changed everything. Now, the showroom was profitable and Reviglio was willing to invest in a larger, better showroom — growing it to a 3,000-sq.-ft. space.
And on Dec. 1 of this past year, Western Nevada Supply took another key step in its showroom evolution, hosting an open house for its new 8,000-sq.-ft.
Inspire luxury kitchen-and-bath location in Sparks. It truly is one of the nicest professionally designed showrooms I have seen.
Founded in 1964 (the company celebrated 50 years in 2014), Western Nevada Supply adheres to the philosophy that the needs of the customers, employees and community are upper-most at all times. Western Nevada has come to be known as the Blue Team, priding itself on a team concept. The company was started by Jack Reviglio and Bill Higgin. Jack’s brother, Tom Reviglio, joined the company in 1967. Jack Reviglio’s sons, Tom, and Rick, represent the second generation of the family now running Western Nevada Supply. Rick is the company’s president and general manager, while Tom, who joined the company in 1983, is the branch manager at the Truckee (Calif.) location.
Today, Western Nevada Supply and the Blue Team operates eight branches in northern Nevada and eastern California, including a 20-acre headquarters location on South Rock Blvd., in Sparks with 40,000 sq. ft. under roof. It also has branches in Elko, Carson City and Winnemucca, Nev., as well as South Lake Tahoe, Bishop, Susanville and Truckee, Calif.
Western Nevada has 300 full-time employees and offers a diverse line of products including plumbing, water works, HVAC, irrigation, hydronics and solar, industrial PVF and paint along with several state-of-art kitchen-and-bath showrooms, including the new 8,000-sq.-ft. Sparks beauty as well as locations in Carson City and Truckee. Western Nevada’s customer base ranges from small individual contractors to large firms working on jobs spanning the spectrum from small house remodels to new subdivisions, golf courses and hotel casinos.
Plumbing represents 40% of the total company sales, with water works adding 35%. The remaining categories constitute the other 25% with showroom sales accounting for 8% of total company sales.
But superior service does not happen overnight. In pursuit of excellence the Blue Team always is looking for innovative methods. In the 1970s, Western notes it was the first company to carry radios in its large fleet of trucks, enabling drivers to be more efficient. To build on the increased efficiency, the company pioneered job vans stocked with building materials to be kept at jobsites (they have more than 400 today).
While the Reviglios and Western Nevada Supply are committed to serving their clientele like no other, they also have an undying love for filling the needs of the community. The company and family are active in fundraising efforts for local nonprofit organizations and educational institutions. The company is not only focused on the immediate needs of the community, but on the future. The Reviglios have welcomed many local youths to spend their summers working for Western Nevada and many continue to work part-time while attending school. Several have come to work for the company full-time after graduation.
Because of their dedication to the needs of their employees, customers and the community, the Reviglios have built a reputation of skill, integrity, reliability and honesty. Sound management practices with loyalty to those who make it all possible have made the Blue Team a huge success. Here are some key excerpts from my talk with Rick Reviglio and Showroom Manager Jeff Mecca.
Hank: What makes Western Nevada Supply different and more unique than the competition?
RR: For starters, we are family owned – and as owners we are 100% in the trenches. Our offices (no ivory towers) are right in the middle of the action. We have long-term employees, many with more than 30 years of experience with the company.
We have a culture of obsession about taking care of our customers. We are open 24 hours, 7 days a week — yes, that is correct! Someone is here at all times to take care of the customers’ needs. We have 400-plus job vans onsite for warehouse inventory, use on the jobsite and for customers. We have an express will-call system where orders are ready in 30 minutes and waiting for the contractor when he comes in.
We also have large inventories. We don’t just talk about this. We truly invest in this area. We have long-term relationships with our vendors, some going back 40 years.
Hank: How did the Blue Team brand come about?
RR: Bill Higgin, one of the original founders, liked the color blue, therefore that became the company color on the first day! With our large fleet of trucks, job vans and blue buildings, there is a definite stamp of blue. We are Italian, competitive and believe in La Famiglia (the family) and team. When you deal with us, you deal with our family – our team. With this culture, people started referring to us as the Blue Team as in “I’m heading to the Blue Team, I’m shopping at the Blue Team or I’m here at the Blue Team.” It stuck in the late 1980s and we really started branding it in the early 1990s.
Hank: What stands out about this new showroom in Sparks?
RR: The new showroom has an incredible feel from the moment you walk through the front door. Customers are greeted with a friendly face and smile and are offered special refreshments, including coffee or espresso of their choice. David Hawkins (of David Hawkins Design Management, www.davidhawkinsdesign.com) designed a spacious free-flowing, no-clutter and no “brand names in your face” showroom. There are 15 working kitchen faucets, 50 working showerheads, extremely well-lit displays, dynamic colors and the feel of a high-end spa.
JM: Moving the showroom from an upstairs location to ground-floor level gave us the ability to add windows with street exposure. We have five high-end vignettes that face a busy street and more window displays as you pull up to park in front of the showroom. The sales team in the new showroom consists of five full-time salespeople and two part-time salespeople plus a full-time receptionist and showroom manager. Looking at things to come, we added a Tesla and universal car-charging station in our parking lot. We also have allocated three areas in the showroom where designers, contractors and their customers are able to sit down and lay out a set of plans and have room to work.
Hank: What percent of showroom sales are to the plumber, building contractors, designers, consumers?
RR: With great pride we still sell the majority of our showroom sales through the plumbing contractor. With the internet, people shopping online and retailers becoming more aggressive, it seems the tide may be changing and we’re prepping for that change in everything we do.
Hank: How are salespeople compensated?
RR: I believe we are one of the few distributors in the country that have no commission salespeople. Our goal and culture is to take care of the customer every time. Everyone gets paid on the bottom line and that bottom line means we must take care of the customer.
Hank: Do you offer online shopping through the showroom?
RR: We currently do for the contractors, but not showroom sales. Our goal is to grow this segment.
Hank: How do you promote the showrooms and what kind of marketing do you do?
RR: We have never done any marketing for the showrooms, but with our Inspire kitchen-and- bath showroom we will be much more visible in trade magazines and more aggressive with designers and contractors.
Hank: Have you gone digital in the showroom with salespeople using iPads and smartphones?
JM: We designed the showroom for the future. We have two Crestron systems to run a multitude of things such as the 50 working showerheads, music in the showroom, iPad use, etc. The sales team utilizes smartphones for a number of tasks every day. We have four 55-in. big-screen TVs in the showroom that will display things such as HGTV, sports and product/educational videos. We also can do submittal presentations through these TVs.
Hank: Are you showing real product numbers and prices in the showroom?
JM: We choose not to show model numbers and prices. We want the customer to become inspired by seeing what they would like to have in their home based on the look, not the price. It’s up to the salesperson at that point to sell the features, functions and benefits of the product.
Hank: Do you do industry and/or community events in the showroom?
RR: Yes, we have held designer functions, CEU classes and manufacturers training for the trade professionals.
Hank: What do you think the future is for brick-and-mortar stores?
RR: I believe there always will be a need for brick-and-mortar stores. The internet has gained a lot of momentum and traction, however there is nothing like a dynamic showroom, having a well-trained seasoned salesperson walking you through the options and ideas. Seeing it live, being able to touch it and watching showerheads and kitchen faucets work are all meant to inspire the customer. The internet cannot do this.
In the past 20 years I’ve had the unique pleasure of working with more than 100 of our country’s top distributors. The most satisfying part of my business career has been seeing many of these distributors turn their showrooms into first-class retail/wholesale operations. In my opinion, Western Nevada Supply is one of the best-run businesses I’ve seen and I’m confident its new Inspire showroom will take it to the next level in that important part of the business.
This article was originally titled “The Blue Team” in the February 2017 print edition of Supply House Times.