Edmonton Valve Salesman Jim Begg Reflects on 39 Years of Change
by Taryn Hardes, on Wed, Apr 24, 2013 @ 15:04 PM
"I cannot think of anybody who exemplifies the core values of Edmonton Valve & Fitting more than Jim," says colleague, Dan Constantin.
Jim Begg assisting Kyle Lee in product training
Jim Begg carries the title of senior sales advisor at Edmonton Valve & Fitting, but he's a lot more than that. With an amazing 39 years of service, he's been here longer than anyone else in the company, and has become a wealth of information, a training resource and a mentor.
"Jim taught me the value of building long term relationships," says Todd Scorah, one of our sales and service reps. "When life threw me curve balls he was always there to help me get back up. I consider him to be a great teacher and an equally great friend."
While Begg has been with the company longer than some of our employees have been alive, he had a couple of jobs prior to Edmonton Valve & Fitting. He graduated from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, earning a degree in Distributive Technology. Basically, it was a degree in sales, and it was a natural fit. Begg's father had his own auto parts business, so it was familiar territory.
Begg went to work for Coca Cola as a sales supervisor for a couple of years. When the company wanted to transfer him to Calgary, he opted instead to switch companies, going to work for airline Wardair International. But before long, the airline wanted to transfer him to Toronto. Having just bought a house in Edmonton, and with a young family to consider, Begg looked around for something new. He found it, in a newspaper advertisement for a sales job at Edmonton Valve and Fitting.
The company was in its infancy back then, just owner Tom White, salesman Hank McClung, who later started Grande Prairie Valve & Fitting, and a secretary and one inside associate. Begg boosted the employee roster to five. Business was simpler too, done on rotary phones and a card index system for inventory control. And of course, the product line was considerably slimmer back then.
Delivering Extraordinary Customer Value
"Today we probably sell in a week what we used to sell in a year back in those days," Begg recalls.
His early experiences? Six months running inside customer sales and service all by himself, answering calls as well as handling shipping and receiving. "That's what really grounded me in terms of product familiarity," he says.
"[Jim's] knowledge is incredible and you can tell that customers trust him. He has great charisma and is well liked by everyone," says Dell Martens, account manager in Lloydminster.
Begg also appreciates the way the business has changed over the years. Thanks to computers and memory sticks, sales reps don't have to lug big catalogues around anymore. It's also a lot easier to get the latest product data sheets from Swagelok in Ohio.
Electronics and automation also have greatly changed the way parts are sold. Begg sold Edmonton’s first Robocrib, an automated vending machine that dispenses components 24/7. Also customers can now order online with eBusiness tools offered by Edmonton Valve & Fitting.
Cultivating customer relationships
"As a Swagelok salesperson, you get real excited when a newsprint mill or pulp mill is built," Begg says. "You have the potential to sell not only the small Swagelok fittings, but to sell fittings up to two inches in size."
Begg was able to build customer relationships and gain a good understanding of the needs early on in the process. Consequently his work on site and that of Swagelok's new construction people in Brazel covering the builder of the paper machine resulted in a "Swagelok only" specification. The end result was we sold a ton of large diameter fittings and the mill continues to bring in annual maintenance work.
"Jim's biggest fans are his customers and they can attest that Jim is always there to help out when they need him. They know Jim is honest, has integrity, he is truthful and most importantly that he cares about their needs and that he has a genuine desire to serve them," says Jim Smart, another Edmonton Valve account manager.
Begg also proudly recalls getting in on the ground floor of the new laboratory built at an Edmonton refinery in the mid-2000s. Again, the whole facility chose to specify Swagelok products, including about 175 Swagelok regulators, plus gauges and transducers, ball valves and tubing.
When Begg isn’t selling Swagelok products, he and his wife, Donna, like to take off in his 1998 Corvette, where a trip last year to Phoenix and San Diego logged about 8,000 kilometers in all. He has three grown kids and nine grandchildren to keep him active with visits and events.
In nearly four decades here, Begg has made a lasting impression that goes far beyond our headquarters.
"What’s always impressed me is how Jim is able to develop and maintain relationships with customers," said Dan Constantin, Warehouse Manager and Customer Service Representative. "I get asked on a regular basis 'How’s Jim Begg doing?' Some of these customers have not had Jim for a salesman for 20 years! I believe this speaks to Jim’s uncanny ability to relate to everybody and anybody. I cannot think of anybody who exemplifies the core values of Edmonton Valve & Fitting more than Jim."
|Jim Begg, back row centre, with the Edmonton Valve family in 1983. (In the front row, we also have Don Keith on the far left, and Val McKay, third from the left!).|
|Jim with the rest of the group in 1988. Other familiar faces include Don and Val, as well as Patricia Adair (front row third from the right), Robert MacGregor (back row fifth from the left), and Todd Scorah, (back row third from the right).|