Hurricane Kayaks has laid off three independent reps and is moving to a “hybridized rep force” to improve its service to dealers, Brad Taylor, vice president of sales and marketing for Hurricane Kayaks, told SNEWS®.
“We’ll use independent reps in territories where it makes sense, and in territories where it makes sense to use factory reps, we will do that,” said Taylor
Hurricane Kayaks, based in Warsaw, N.C., terminated reps in three territories in June: Don Otey (northeast), Erik Thompson (upper Midwest) and Thomas Cronquist (Texas).
“It’s no reflection on those guys. It was a business decision we made,” said Taylor. “We’re going to be using in-house reps on the East Coast, because our headquarters are stationed centrally on the East Coast, and it makes sense to manage that area from the factory.
“For other reasons, it makes sense for us to manage the upper Midwest all the way over into Texas (with inside reps),” said Taylor, declining to go into the details of that decision.
Independent reps will remain in place for the West Coast, the remainder of the Midwest, and Florida.
“We did this because we feel like, in the territories we just talked about, we can offer a higher level of service than independent reps, because they will be singularly focused on Hurricane Kayaks,” said Taylor. “There’s no competition of time with paddle lines, pfd lines, etc. They’ll be dedicated to Hurricane Kayaks.”
SNEWS® View: This decision certainly came as a shock to those who were let go, and the reasoning behind it still seems vague, particularly with Taylor declining to reveal the reason for the change in the upper Midwest. We can certainly appreciate the company’s determination to improve service, but we are left wondering if there is not something more at work here. Companies have certainly been known to part ways with their independent reps to cut costs or achieve a singular sales focus, and that could be the case here. There is a possibility that the company is struggling a bit with internal operations or quality control, because we’ve heard that some retailers have had problems getting Hurricane product delivered. Of course, it could just be a case of the company not being happy with the performance of a few reps. Whatever the reason for the shake-up, it will be interesting to see if this “hybrid” philosophy pays dividends.