The job: Major accounts representative
The employer: The Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. is a lawn, garden and outdoor living products and services company, based in Marysville, Ohio. The company originally was founded in 1868 by O.M. Scott; in 1995, Scotts merged with Miracle-Gro. The company is in the process of setting up regional offices, one of which will be responsible for the Midwestern states. About 20 employees now work in the Kansas City metropolitan area.
My role: My responsibilities include account management and relationship management with about 35 retail stores--in Kansas City and north to Kirksville; south to the Lake of the Ozarks-- carrying Scotts Miracle-Go products. I help provide market intelligence and service solutions for the retailers we work with, which include stores like Lowes and Home Depot. By creating strong partnerships with our retailers, both the retail managers and consumers maintain confidence in our brand.
It’s also my job to make sure the stores have our products ready for the shelves when they’re needed, and to create displays to propel those products. The dedicated program with which I am involved has shown great results in store appearance and sales performance. At no other time in recent lawn and garden industry history have manufacturer’s representatives like myself been more valuable, as a result of today’s critically competitive business setting.
How long have you been in this position?
Since January 2010.
How did you find your job?
I had worked with the Kansas City Scotts Miracle-Gro team for several years in a previous position with a Kansas City area Lowes store. So, when I was looking for a way to earn extra income to supplement a full-time construction materials job with Kansas City’s American Landscape Supply, I contacted a Scotts Miracle-Gro sales manager I knew. He was glad to have me work part-time in making sure shelves were appropriately stocked and displays were looking good in area retail stores. It got my foot in the door.
When I was part of a layoff at American Landscape Supply in July 2009, I talked again with the sales manager, who is my supervisor. We talked about changing my responsibilities and putting me into a full-time position with the company. The timing was good since Scotts Miracle-Gro was breaking up into regions and creating new jobs. And, I felt that Scotts Miracle-Gro had the greatest potential for vertical career access.
What helped the most in the job search?
Keeping in touch with people in the industry had the best results. Evaluating my strengths and focusing on the potential at Scotts Miracle-Gro worked much better than trying to “brand” or “re-invent” myself.
What else worked well for you?
Career groups are great, but I felt I needed to pick two or three and not make a routine of going to numerous groups. The groups at Church of the Nativity in Leawood and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park were the best for me. In the Nativity career group, we had an exercise which gave me the revelation regarding what my true career desires were. The career groups also helped me put things in perspective--that I wasn’t the only one without a full-time job. Networking by visiting lawn and garden industry trade shows was not an answer for me. Picking up the phone and calling acquaintances and people I had worked with was my best approach.
What didn’t work?
Working with Missouri’s Full Employment Council did not yield the guidance, education/training or interviews I had expected. Although I qualified for WorkFORCE Action grant funding to help continue my education, my training was at first postponed and I was later told the funds were re-allocated.
Did you reach a low point in this process?
I think I never really hit a low point, but I became acutely aware of the passing of time. Every month was an anniversary of sorts, after the layoff.
What is your best advice for others in the job search?
Persistence. Make sure your acquaintances know you are still looking. If not told otherwise, most people assume you found a job. I also believe there is no right or wrong way to job search; if you are not getting results, try something else. Had I not previously worked in sales I would have been more easily discouraged.
What is your educational and work experience?
I have a bachelor’s degree in business/natural science/mathematics from Simpson College, Indianola Iowa (December 1980). The focus of my career has been in home improvement/super stores, as well as independent garden centers.
Is there anything else you would like to share related to the job search?
Be yourself. Find a place that needs YOU. Market yourself as yourself.
How does this job fit into your long-term career plans?
Scotts Miracle-Gro is performing very well and is in the process of changing from a single corporate office design to a multi-regional format. Last year, the Southwest and Southeast regions were installed. We had struggled in both areas, but with a regional focus we have increased our market share in these areas by more than two percent. I think I will find a place in regional management here at some point in time.
Sue Dye Babson,
Special to The Star