Tim Morales & Associates
Going above and beyond to provide exceptional service to customers while investing in people and processes are part of the DNA of Tim Morales & Associates.
By Eric Slack
Tracing its legacy back to 1957, Tim Morales & Associates is an offshoot of the then-Nashville-based J.H. Morales Sales Co. Tim Morales & Associates covers the Gulf Coast states of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, as well as the Florida Panhandle. From headquarters in Mobile, Ala., the company is an independent sales agency focused on the wholesale plumbing and industrial distribution channels.
“I believe we are among the hardest-working agencies out there,” President Tim Morales says. “We always try and shoot straight with our customers and clients.”
The work ethic and industry knowledge that Joe and Grace Morales passed on to their children during the days of J.H. Morales Sales Co. certainly played a key role in the ultimate development of Tim Morales & Associates. Morales has been dedicated to carrying on a rich family tradition since he founded Tim Morales & Associates as a spinoff of his parent’s rep firm in 1997.
Throughout its service area, Tim Morales & Associates provides the highest level of sales and marketing professionalism to exclusive manufacturers of plumbing, mechanical and industrial products. Its Mobile headquarters also serves as a logistics shipping point for clients including TACO Pumps, Sioux Chief Manufacturing and Apollo Valves.
“Our market is regionalized and crosses a broad spectrum of opportunities,” Morales says. “These include petrochemical and refining, ship building and steel production, forestry and agriculture, space and defense, pulp and paper and even some white sand beaches that are a magnet for tourism and the accompanying high-rise hotels and condominiums.”
Identifying its customers requires an equally diverse approach. In the early days, the focus was on wholesale channel relationships, primarily with purchasing agents and owners. But the marketplace has transformed dramatically. Today, the company is involved with pull-through initiatives such as face-to-face calls on everyone from contactors and end-users to code officials and specifiers. Additionally, modern retail giants, global logistics and e-commerce channels have changed the market.
“Within the traditional wholesale distribution channels, we know the players and they know us,” Morales says. “Beyond that, our direct customers expect a high level of inside sales support, and it is incumbent upon us to adapt. When we encounter obstacles, we develop processes that allow us to consistently circumvent issues and deliver a positive customer experience.”
Morales says his team responds to the needs of the channel to satisfy demands both upstream and down. People are a key to this, and he says the agency is fortunate to have attracted and retained talent that has hundreds of years of collective experience.
“We also are fortunate to be aligned with some great factories, contractors and designers,” Morales says. “These alliances push us, almost as hard as we drive ourselves. Our interaction with The Association of Independent Manufacturer’s Representatives has also played a vital role in the growth of our agency.”
To continue to grow, Tim Morales & Associates has been making a number of key investments into the agency. Most of these have been focused on people and systems.
“Today, people cost money and machines are comparatively inexpensive,” Morales says. “The easy part is technology. We have an excellent IT group, fast processors and some smart third-party software providers. But it all comes down to people, and we have some very talented individuals who we are investing in constantly.”
For example, Morales says three team members are enrolled in the Certified Professional Manufacturer’s Representative program. This is a three-year program that delivers a complete curriculum on how to operate a successful rep agency, from sales and marketing to accounting and HR.
Morales adds that the company’s factory partners also invest in its people via plant tours and product universities. “We also acquire a great deal of knowledge from our time in the field,” he says. “You’d be surprised what you can learn wearing a hard hat and some steel-toed boots.”
Beyond that, Tim Morales & Associates is investing time and treasure to improve its bid and spec capabilities. This will allow the company to better drive business for its clients.
“We have always been responsive to project inquiries and opportunities, and we also drive a significant amount of business that is packaged and bid for our wholesalers,” Morales says. “That said, we recognize the need to fully adopt the role and responsibilities of a true bid and spec representative.”
As the company looks to the years ahead, Morales says wholesalers, contractors, specifiers and end-users will continue to be able to leverage the agency’s talents. From assistance in design and troubleshooting to heater start-ups and sizing, he says downstream customers recognize and appreciate the role that reps play in the industry.
But he also says that some of the biggest challenges for the rep industry can be found upstream. While most manufacturers recognize the value that independent representatives deliver, some factories choose to look at a single line item on their P&L and try to trim it, and many times that line is for rep commissions.
Morales says trimming inefficiencies is always good practice, but independent representatives deliver unparalleled value. They are an expense with a direct correlation to a client’s financial performance, and he says the more the company sells, the more marketshare it captures and the more profit dollars it earns for clients. He adds that as sales increase, so too do pre- and post-sale service requirements.
“I believe it is incumbent on the rep industry as a whole to invest more time in marketing ourselves,” Morales says. “We need to better communicate the true value we deliver.”