California wholesaler PACE Supply invests in employee and customer product training as a driver for growth.

L-R: Chris Peterson, western regional sales manager, Saniflo, with Aletia Sexton, training manager and Barry Nitzberg, VP business development of PACE Supply.

By John O’Reilly and
Supply House Times staff

Santa Rosa, CA-based plumbing and HVAC wholesaler PACE Supply has learned that investments in training deliver long-term results with increased sales. From its founding in 1994 the employee-owned company’s mission has been to create an environment that enhances the quality of life for its team members through a commitment to education.

Education has been the vehicle to create new business for PACE and vendor partners like SFA Saniflo despite the economic slowdown.

“The expertise and advice from PACE employees who are well-trained creates a level of confidence in end-users that can’t be accomplished by literature and a Web site alone,” says Saniflo’s Western regional sales manager Chris Peterson.

“Education is the foundation of our business development plan,” says Barry Nitzberg, vice president/business development at PACE. “We have a year-long core curriculum that each new member of the sales staff completes, and we work with vendors and reps to create dozens of product-specific modules.”

Education takes many forms at PACE - some classroom-based and others through one-on-one defined mentor relationships. Some of the highlighted events on training manager Aletia Sexton’s year-long calendar include:

Field Market Summit

Suppliers are invited to this annual event to tell their product story, how it works and installs, selling features and product benefits. For a solutions-oriented product like Saniflo, this in-depth orientation benefits both PACE and the vendor. “Our salespeople become a better resource for our customers, and the Saniflo story gets told to potential clients who didn’t know the technology existed to solve their plumbing problem,” explains Nitzberg.

Counter Days

Saniflo rep Scott Smith of DCS Pacific has conducted numerous product-training sessions at PACE branches, highlighting the recent decision by the City of San Francisco to allow Saniflo products. Smith combined this effort with joint sales calls with PACE’s outside sales force.

Nitzberg notes that a quick glance at his product sales sheets proves that these efforts and the time are paying off. “Even in a down market we are driving business with [the Saniflo] product line,” he says. “The law changed, we responded with education, and the result is increased sales.”

PACE Supply operates 12 locations throughout northern California. SFA Saniflo offers macerating toilet systems and gray water pumping systems for residential and commercial applications.