One of the highlights each year during the AIM/R Annual Conference is the presentation of the Golden Eagle Award — one of the most respected honors in the plumbing industry and particularly within the Association of Independent Manufacturers’ Representatives.

The name of the winner is not revealed in advance, leading to even more anticipation. Last month, at the Awards Lunch for the 46th Annual Conference in Napa, California, AIM/R Board member Brian Morgan of The Morgan Group had the pleasure of announcing A. O. Smith Water Products Senior Vice President of Sales Jim Margoni as recipient of the 2018 Golden Eagle Award.

“I am extremely honored, thankful and humbled to receive this prestigious industry honor from an organization as impressive as AIM/R,” Margoni said. “This award gives me great pride and trust that A. O. Smith is well-aligned with our rep partners and giving them the support and tools they need to grow our business. Our successes are made possible because we stand on the shoulders of all those who support our efforts every day.

“I’m fortunate to be part of a strong and great company, have talented inside and outside sales teams, and work alongside such a professional sales network of independent rep organizations. These rep agencies are central to our success and add value to our brands every day in the markets they serve.”

All rep members of AIM/R are welcome throughout the year to nominate manufacturing executives for consideration, and the winner is then selected by vote in the months leading up to the conference. The Golden Eagle was established to honor a senior-level executive for an industry manufacturer who has a proven track record supporting manufacturers’ reps and recognizing that they are the most efficient and cost-effective method of going to market.

To be selected, candidates must meet the following criteria:

• Work cooperatively and develop and maintain a positive working relationship with manufacturers’ representatives;
• Promote the industry and have a positive influence on the industry by providing quality;
• Provide for efficient communication of information to his/her manufacturers’ reps and assure they are kept up to date on the industry and manufacturers’ product lines;
• Facilitate the rep’s job through prompt filling of orders, prompt payment of commissions, by providing backup support in the event of a problem, and work closely with reps to assure customer satisfaction; and
• Utilize manufacturers’ representatives, support AIM/R, and participate on panels and in industry events when invited.

“Jim and his team have always been very supportive of their reps,” said Charlie Parham of Pepco Sales and a member of the AIM/R Executive Committee. “Working with Jim, it's apparent that they trust their reps and the rep model. I'm so proud to have been a part of the AIM/R membership that rewarded Jim for the opportunities he's provided to the A. O. Smith, State and American network of reps. Congratulations Jim!”

Margoni entered the industry in 1991 when he joined A. O. Smith as commercial sales manager. In 1994, he was promoted to national sales manager, and just two years later, he was named vice president of sales. He said some of the most rewarding aspects of his career have been the relationships he has developed with partners throughout wholesale distribution and particularly among the company’s reps.

“A. O. Smith has learned so much from the reps who partner with us. They provide firsthand feedback on the performance and acceptance of our programs and products in each of their markets. And even more importantly, the relationships we’ve built together give our reps the confidence to be very candid and tell us what we need to hear rather than just what we want to hear. That type of open dialogue ensures that all of us have the best opportunities to win.”