Who or What Is a Rep?

Many of you may wonder about the person referred to as the Rep.—what his or her job really is. In this column I will try my best to offer the answers to the above title. First of all, no matter what profession we are in, we are all representatives of something. If you are a service technician, you too are considered a rep. You’re considered not only someone with good trade skills, but you are also the voice and image of the company that employs you. You can either increase or decrease the value of both yourself and the company, simple by the way that you meet the customer’s needs. Did you show up on time, arrive clean, did you listen to the customer and lastly did you address the problems?

A manufacture representative. He or she is a person that we often reach out too when there is a particular issue with the product or products they represent. We may also call them when it comes to a job that requires a particular product application or design. On many occasions during my career I have reached out to representatives to help me to come up with the right material and sizing with a particular job, and I have never been asked to pay for their services.

Most representatives will also visit to the job site to help troubleshoot a particular service issue. I have also found, from talking to reps over the years, that often it is not their product causing the problem but the application. Sometimes, we may be expecting a product to do something that it is not designed to do, and the rep may also make a suggestion that will help to correct a particular service problem. One of the issues we often encounter is determining just who is the correct person or contact number to call when assistance is needed.

Keep in mind that there are a couple different rep categories. There is the factory direct representative and the manufacture’s product rep agent. The difference between two is that one may represent several products and the other, generally, is product specific.

For my money, what is most important is that either is able to help us in the time of need. I also think that those who keep us informed of their product updates are the most helpful. Just think, for example, of the changes in hydronic controls industry we have experienced and where we would be if we were not kept informed of the changes by the representative’s? There are several opportunities in which to meet your product representatives, and one of the best is to attend one of the many trade shows or conventions that are held on an annual basis.

I recently attended two events: the 2015 Oil and Energy Service Professionals Convention and the New England Fuel Institute Expo. At both of these events I not only picked up some additional technical information, but several of the manufacturer representatives held training programs that I noticed were filled to capacity. Many of you have particular suppliers that have their own sales representatives that you meet and buy from on a regular basis, and you may also ask for their support on occasion. These same suppliers often send their sales staff and counter personnel to product update training classes that are supported by the manufactures or the manufacturers’ representatives. This is another place where product reps schedule their training programs on a regular basis along with what is referred to as a product counter day.

I will close with a Charles Dickens quote that I recently read: “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of others.”


Charlie Bursey began his long career in the oil heating industry in 1963. He has delivered coal, kerosene and oil and serviced heating and cooling equipment. He has also managed service departments, worked for a manufacturer and currently works with F.W. Webb, Warwick, R.I. He is a recipient of the Association of Oil & Energy Service Professionals’ prestigious Hugh McKee Award for making an outstanding contribution to the fuel oil industry; having had an understanding and cooperation with his/her fellowman; and having unselfishly aided the industry in education and related activities.

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