Ed Sallie talks about life as a pro golfer, making friends with astronauts, and how a call from Samuel L. Jackson opened the door into the promotional products industry.
I had the great pleasure of talking to one of Boundless’ fantastic Sales Affiliates, Ed Sallie. Ed has been a part of the Boundless family for four years, and has never looked back.
Tell me a little bit about yourself: where are you from?
I was born and raised on the South Shore of Long Island, originally from a town called West Islip. Currently, I live within ten miles of where I grew up. I’ve been married for 25 years and my wife also grew up in this area. I guess you could say we like it here!
What are your hobbies/personal interests? (What do you do when you’re not working?)
I’m a professional golfer and I teach golf in my spare time. I also play senior golf professional events in the New York area. Aside from that, my real passion is my family. I have three children: two in college one in high school. In addition, my wife and I are very active in both skiing and biking.
What professional goals do you set for yourself and how do you achieve them?
Right now I’m focused on continued growth for my book of business. I’m very happy with where I’m headed. I really want to integrate and utilize all the technology and tools that Boundless has brought to the table – use that toolbox and leverage the awesome technology so that I can continue to be relevant for my buyers. A key component of success in this vein is a continued focus on building my support team. That’s been really important step that I have to take.
How did you get into the promotional products business?
When the first ad specialty opportunity came to me, I was with a company called Kangol (you know, those hats that Samuel L. Jackson always wears? With the little kangaroo?). I was president of Kangol USA – and we were selling 18M of hats into USA retail. The focus was selling to stores like Nordstrom’s, Lids, sporting goods stores,etc, but one day, we were approached by Coca Cola to do 10K of our famous hat. It was then that I realized what a great opportunity this was. Unlike selling to retail, it was automatically at 100% sell through. Following that deal, Samuel L Jackson called us. He was doing a sweet sixteen party for his daughter Zoe, and he wanted 200 custom hats with a “Z16” in place of the Kangol logo. I quickly realized the custom branding world was something I had to pursue.
So I started with a local distributor and learned the business and built my own book of accounts. I can remember walking down the aisles at PPAI in 2000 and seeing there were 13 pen manufacturers and thinking “how the hell do you choose?” I learned really early on in my promotional marketing career the importance of choosing good suppliers.
When did you start working with Boundless? What drew you to the company?
It’s funny because I remember seeing some of the early writings from the company co-founder, and thinking, “What do they do? Are they a distributor?” It was intriguing because the way you talk about your company is so different. I thought, “What is going on over there at Boundless? People are talking about it.” There was a little bit of mystery surrounding it and I thought that was really cool. When I got deeper into the company and met the people, I saw there was something very unique going on with the culture and that was something I had not previously seen in our industry. It’s a cool culture that kind of reminded me of my time at Nike, being with a cutting-edge company that thinks differently. I got that initial feeling from Boundless and that hasn’t changed.
Do you leverage your position in the golf community for your promotional products career?
I was initially inclined not to tell clients about my passion and professional golf career, but then I realized the most valuable thing I can sell to any prospective client is myself – my passion, and who I am. I’ve definitely developed clients as a result of my connection with golf. It’s a high level networking tool when you are on the course and can identify the right situations. That being said, I wouldn’t say my promotional focus is in the golf outing world. I’m actually doing well in the dance industry right now!
What do you like about this industry?
I get satisfaction out of helping clients achieve their objectives through the use of strategically chosen products. And I like the fact that every day is a little different – there’s always a new challenge that comes my way as a problem solver in this industry. While I like the product, I’m not really a seller of product. I like solving problems and helping clients achieve their goals by using promotional products. From a personal perspective, I like the flexibility the industry gives me to schedule my work in a way that works for me and my family in my passions.
What is your secret to building relationships with your clients?
I’ll go back to my IBM training in 1984-86. I went through their marketing training school and heard amazing seminars from great speakers. What stood out most to me was that in order to address a customer’s concerns, you have to understand their concerns. I think a lot of people make the mistake of talking too much and not listening. The trick is listening to what the client is saying and ask the right kinds of questions to understand pain points, goals, and challenges and then address those concerns with solutions. Too many people are trying to show product samples when that should be the last thing you bring to the table.
Fun fact: during his time at IBM, Ed befriended fellow systems engineer and now accomplished astronaut, Mike Massimino. Mr. Massimino holds the record for spacewalk time with 35 hours and 55 minutes, and is now a professor at Columbia University in New York.
What has been the biggest game changer in the promotional products industry in your time as a sales partner?
Advances in technology have made every aspect of this business better: it’s faster, more competitive, produces higher quality product, and now has improved processes. Technology was the deciding factor for me in choosing to partner with Boundless. In an industry where technology has been changing everything from sourcing to proposals to invoices to artwork to real time inventory – Boundless was and still is what I view as the leader in this innovation.
Interested in chatting with one of our sales team members to learn about their experience at Boundless?
Contact Brandi Mangum to get connected!