Bailey Sales & Associates
For Bailey Sales & Associates, maintaining a physical presence within the main markets its serves goes a long way toward achieving its service goals. “We are the people contractors, engineers and wholesalers call when a situation arises,” says Kevin Jones, a principal owner of the Seattle-based company.
In addition to its headquarters in Seattle, where it owns and operates a 20,000-square-foot warehouse, Bailey Sales operates satellite locations in Portland, Ore., Eugene, Ore. and Spokane, Wash. “Satellite offices allow us to provide better service to our markets,” Jones adds.
Bailey Sales & Associates is a manufacturer’s representative serving the commercial and residential markets. The company represents manufacturers of commercial and residential plumbing, heating and HVAC products and decorative plumbing fixtures, and works with wholesale distributors and others within a large geographic region that includes Washington, Oregon, Northern Idaho, Montana and Alaska.
The company’s territory is large in terms of geographic footprint, but not necessarily in term of population density. “Outside of Seattle, we have a small market but a lot of drive time,” says Rick Root, the company’s other principal owner. “There are five or six wholesalers who really run the majority of our Puget Sound territory, so we rely heavily on the relationships and trust we’ve built with them.
“The wholesalers we work with are our business partners just as much as the manufacturers are,” he adds. “I don’t believe there is another independent manufacturer’s representative in our territory who has the kinds of relationships with wholesalers, mechanical engineers, plumbers and mechanical contractors for all aspects of what is required to get products to market that we have.”
Bailey Sales utilizes a number of technologies and other tools to enhance its operations and service. These include fully automated accounting, order entry and inventory control systems as well as office automation and productivity software.
The company also uses industry-leading job quoting and tracking software to target and track ongoing projects in its territory. Project plans, spec documents and other job-related information are stored in one data center, giving outside and inside sales staff an organized way to retrieve information. Staff tracks the work of architects, engineers, builders and contractors on each project its projects are specified for, which helps it build knowledge of each project it targets and know how and when products are being used.
Bailey Sales also uses the ISQuote software developed specifically for independent manufacturers representatives to provide customers with quick and accurate quotes that include product images and embedded specification links, the company notes. “We also have equipped all of our outside sales associates with all the necessary equipment such as iPhones, iPads and mobile wi-fi devices to insure they are in the field and with the decision makers and customers and not in the office,” Root says. “Every outside sales associate has direct access to everything anyone inside the building has, including specifications, job quotes, submittals and customer and manufacturer current price files, so while in the field they can be as reactive to any request as required for immediate results.”
The company has worked with many wholesale customers and product manufacturers for decades. The company, which was founded in 1956 and formally incorporated in 1973, will mark its 60th anniversary this year.
After primarily focusing on residential products for the first 40-plus years of its existence, Bailey Sales took a major step forward in 1998 when it acquired Nolan Northwest, a representative of commercial products. The acquisition added new products, new staff, new ideas and new markets to the company, it notes.
Bailey Sales added the Chicago Faucet and Leonard Valve product lines following the merger of Nolan Northwest with Jones Sales in January 2000. The company’s most recent acquisition came in 2005, when it purchased the Burke West agency, a move that added the Brasscraft and Red White valve product lines.
The diversity of the product lines represented by Bailey Sales has helped it manage through market changes. Declines in one of the markets the company serves are typically offset by growth in another. “We’re fortunate to have remained steady,” Root says. “In 2008, we were the only manufacturers’ representative agency in the territory not to lay anyone off, cut salaries or impose furlough time. Everything was full steam ahead for us.”
The majority of the manufacturers represented by the company today are based in the United States. “We don’t like seeing jobs go overseas,” Root says. “We prefer to support our country and do what we can to keep business here – this is where our wholesalers and the contractors who use our products work.”
Bailey Sales in 2015 made no significant additions to the list of manufacturers it represents. “We want to focus on growing our market share with the manufacturers we’ve worked with for many years,” Root says. “We believe in going home with who took us to the dance instead of trying to find someone else to go home with.”
Taking the Reins
Jones and Root began succeeding company founders Tom & Bill Bailey as the business’ owners in 2012, and formally assumed ownership in 2015. Both men have more than 20 years of experience in plumbing and mechanical product sales, and each is involved in industry organizations including the Association of Independent Manufacturers’/Representatives, of which Root is currently on the executive board of directors, and the Western Washington Mechanical Contractors Association of which Root is currently on the member services committee and serves as the chair of the associate member committee. Jones was part of a group responsible for re-launching the Puget Sound chapter of the American Society of Plumbing Engineers, where he was vice president of membership.
The company is also affiliated with the American Supply Association, Master Builders Association, School Facilities Management Association, National Kitchen & Bath Association and the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association.
Although the company’s ownership may have changed, Bailey Sales’ dedication to its employees has not. Bailey Sales’ internal culture is a selling point for the company, which, like others in its industry, has had difficulty finding and retaining warehouse and inside sales staff.
“We are definitely family oriented here, and are very open with our employees – if their child has a event at school, or they need to leave early for a doctor’s appointment, or any other of life’s situations that arise, they go,” Root says. “We’re very good to our employees, without them we have nothing.”