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WDI-Manufacturer’s Representatives

McDonough & Associates


McDonough & Associates believes in giving its salespeople the tools they need to get their products on customers’ shelves.
By Jim Harris

McDonough & Associates’ investment in its inside sales staff has helped the manufacturer’s representative succeed in its market.

Hiring, training and retaining staff members is the highest priority for the Canton, Mich.-based company. “Our goal is to have a large staff that has product knowledge and the ability to put together project quotations, help with pricing, expedite orders and provide fast customer service,” President Jim McDonough Jr. says.

To meet this goal, the company offers a positive and friendly culture as well as highly competitive benefits including a matching 401(k) plan. “We have a very loyal staff and low turnover. Three of our people have been here more than 30 years, and four people have been here more than 20 years,” he adds. “We are a small company that treats our employees like family and lets them know we’re all in this together.”

Staying Aware

Investing in its sales staff’s knowledge and capabilities enables McDonough & Associates to best serve the wholesale and distribution market. “Our goal is to create brand demand for the manufacturers we represent and get their products on a distributor’s shelf,” McDonough says.

The agency represents 14 electrical equipment manufacturers including Eaton, Edison, Encore Wire, Cantex, iTool and Jefferson Electric. End users of the products represented by the company include automotive and other industrial OEMS. McDonough & Associates’ territory is the entire state of Michigan. McDonough and Associates box

The company’s sales staff includes two people who exclusively call contractors to get products specified on their projects. Another salesperson focuses on having products specified by engineers. “We are able to help educate a contractor about the specific benefit of our products and how they can help save labor on a job,” McDonough notes. “We want to make sure the market is aware of our brands and their new products and technology.”

Several of the manufacturers on the company’s line card have worked with it for much of its 40 years in business.

“One thing that’s different about us is that we don’t change the lines we represent for change’s sake – we have a core group that we work with, including four manufacturers we’ve represented for 37 years,” McDonough says. “We believe in growing by working with our existing partners, and not just by adding more lines.”

McDonough & Associates takes a tried-and-true approach to maintaining relationships with its manufacturers and customers. “We’re in a very tight-knit industry where we all know each other, and a lot of us have been doing this a long time,” he adds. “We get on the phone and talk to our customers regularly, and encourage a lot of face-to-face selling. We want to be in front of our customers and don’t want to rely on just e-mail; we want to talk to people and find out what’s going on out there.”  

Forty Years Young

McDonough & Associates celebrated its 40th anniversary last year. McDonough’s father, Jim McDonough Sr., started the company in 1977 after moving his family from Toledo, Ohio, to Detroit.

Previously, Jim McDonough Sr. was regional manager for a representative agency that covered Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. One of that agency’s clients, an electrical manufacturer, planned to take its product line to a new representative firm, but offered the line to McDonough if he started his agency. A regional manager for the manufacturer also offered to help the elder McDonough acquire additional lines of business, his son notes.

Jim McDonough Jr. first started working in the company’s warehouse shortly after it opened. He has taken on roles of increasing responsibility during his tenure with the company, culminating in his becoming president ten years ago. McDonough is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company including working with manufacturers and salespeople. His father remains active in the company on a part-time basis. “He’s always willing to give an opinion on any issues we have for the day,” McDonough says.

The company continues to build its staff and capabilities. Recent staff additions include adding an inside salesperson and a contractor specialist; other recent investments include adding to its office facility.

McDonough & Associates’ dedication to its staff and industry has earned it the loyalty of the customers and manufacturer s it works with. “I’m proud of our reputation in the marketplace and in the industry,” he adds. “Our customers always speak well of us to manufacturers.”


Staying Involved

McDonough & Associates is involved in a number of industry organizations including the National Electrical Manufacturers Representatives Association, the Washetnaw Electrical Contractors Association in Ann Arbor, Mich., and the Illuminating Engineering Society.

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