2002 Winter

Getting to Know Your PolyJohn Business Coach: Elton Tamplin

What led you to
come to work for PolyJohn?
I’ve been in the toilet business for 23 years—started building wooden ones when they were still made that way. I drove a truck and worked my way up to operations manager. I worked for a large regional restroom business before taking this job, so I had a lot of firsthand experience with PolyJohn and the other manufacturers. I was PolyJohn’s biggest fan before I came to work for them. I got to know Mike Adams, and I guess he realized I knew the business pretty well, because when he needed a new salesman, he called me.

Do you have a
personal selling philosophy?
I am not your typical “salesman.” That is not my personality. I want to be my customer’s resource—somebody he can call to “cuss and discuss” when he needs advice or things aren’t going his way. Any problem he’s facing, I’ve probably faced myself. In fact, as a salesman, I tell people what not to buy as often as what to buy. I don’t want to sell somebody some-thing that they are not going to use. A guy walks through his lot every day… and if there’s something sitting out there that he never uses, it’s going to remind him of the darn salesman who sold it to him.

It seems that being fair is really important to you?
Yes, I probably get that from my dad. He died when I was 11, but he knew that he was dying for a long time, and so he wanted to teach me and my brother important life lessons. Growing up, we had the biggest yard in the neighborhood, and so there were always lots of kids over playing football and baseball. My dad treated every kid who came into our house like family. If the ice cream truck came down the road, everybody got a quarter for a treat, or nobody did. That’s how he was.

How does your previous job experience help you at PolyJohn?
Well, I walked a mile in my customer’s shoes… drove the truck… cleaned the spills… and I’ve serviced many of the same type customers they do. I know what it takes to succeed in this business and I like to share what I know. Like my dad, I try to treat everybody like family.

If you were going to advise a new start-up on how to succeed in this business, what would you tell them?
The first thing I would tell them is that the toilet alone can’t make you successful—it’s how clean the toilet is that makes you or breaks you. If you don’t maintain the highest standards of service, customers will look elsewhere. Then, if you’re planning to stay in this business, you need a quality product that will look good many years from now. And finally, don’t underestimate the importance of route planning. A driver can waste half a day driving, if the route isn’t tight. So work harder to get customers within your current routes before selling further down the road.

Elton Tamplin,
South/Central States
PolyJohn Area Manager

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