Inside Ripley Labs: A Q&A with our Director of Engineering
9th May, 2022
At Ripley Tools, we’re incredibly proud of our expert engineers at Ripley Labs, but they’re often so busy developing new products for our
1st July, 2022
Having spent more than 20 years in the business of selling tools – including in sales and distribution positions – self-confessed “people-person” Susan brings a wealth of industry experience and a well honed skill for developing and managing customer relationships to Ripley Tools.
Susan joined Ripley as Channel Director in April 2020. Based in Kansas City, MO, USA, Susan works directly with distributors to help develop customer relationships and educate them on Ripley Tools.
“The best thing about my job is interacting with people… helping them find solutions to their challenges, the right tool to fit their needs. I’ve built a lot of long-lasting relationships with customers and people in the industry, so we’ve been able to build that trust. They’re friends now, not just customers.”
Read the full interview:
Tell us a little bit about what you do – what does a typical day look like?
I’m the Channel Director here at Ripley, so my role is to work with the distributors in North America, and to build the relationships with their product management, sales and marketing teams, even their web content people. My role also involves educating them on Ripley Tools, helping them understand our products. I help them with marketing campaigns, putting together agreements, growth rebates – just putting together any programmes that will enable our relationship to become closer and ensure that when they think of tools, they think of Ripley Tools.
How long have you been in the industry, and what changes have been most interesting to you?
I’ve been in the industry selling tools for over 20 years, and there have been a lot of changes. Probably the biggest change is the way that we communicate with the distributors. Especially now after Covid, just the ability to do virtual training and demos.
I also spent 10 years as a distributor, so this helps me understand the challenges of being a distributor – I know what it’s like to have a lot of different lines but not having in-depth knowledge about the lines that you carry. I understand the challenges that distributors have and I can empathise with that. Understanding their roles helps me perform better in my role and build stronger relationships.
What’s the best thing about what you do at work?
I’m a people person, so it’s interacting with people. Both my colleagues and other people in the industry that I’ve gotten to know over the years. And obviously the customers and the distributors, helping them find solutions to their problems, the right tool to fit their needs. I’ve built a lot of long-lasting relationships with customers and people in the industry, so we’ve been able to build that trust. They’re like friends now, not just customers.
I enjoy dealing with people and I enjoy tools. It’s a great product to be able to sell. Especially talking to technicians and end users, they love their tools and they’re very passionate about talking about what they like and what they don’t like. It’s good to get that feedback and hear what they like about the tool, especially when they tell me they couldn’t do their job without one of our tools.
What makes Ripley different from its competitors?
The biggest thing that differentiates Ripley from our competition is the way that we develop tools. We work with the cable manufacturers to create tools that work perfectly with their cables. As new cables are developed, manufacturers may not know which tools are going to work well with them. So I would say that’s one of the biggest things that differentiates us. Also we’re smaller, we’re nimble, it’s easier to work on helping a customer find an actual tool that they need and develop it for them, put together a kit for them – all that is much easier and I think that makes us different.
Tell us something surprising about yourself that people might not know
I’m an Air Force brat. My dad was in the Air Force, so we travelled and lived in many different places. I’ve lived in Europe and in about four different states in the United States. For the first eight or nine years of my life, we moved around and then my dad retired and we moved back here to Kansas City and have been here ever since. I definitely think that experience shaped me. I used to be very shy when I was small and I think moving around and having to meet new friends and start conversations and reach out to people helped me develop the people-person personality that I have now.
I actually went to school to be a sports reporter. I grew up working for the Kansas City Royals (baseball team) so I was around sports a lot. My mum worked in the front office with the marketing team so I grew up around sports. So I went to school to be a sports reporter but I ended up in sales.