HARDI’s member spotlight serves as a regular feature through which the association highlights standout individuals in the HVACR industry. For our March Member Spotlight, we spoke with Brian Newport, Corporate Director of Residential Sales for Habegger based out of Cincinnati, Ohio. Brian also recently took on the role of Chair of HARDI’s new Sales Council.
What was the first thing you wanted to be when you grew up?
Newport: A Baseball player.
I thought I was going to be a professional baseball player. It was a sport that I loved.
I first picked up a bat when I was little, and played all the way through high school and some after too. I just love the game, but never made it to the next level. Being a Cincinnati Reds fan and watching those guys, I thought if I could be a part of the Big Red Machine, that would be something special.
How did you find your way into the HVACR industry?
Newport: You know when I graduated high school, I decided that I wasn’t always the best student. I was a sports guy and a drummer in a band and I just didn’t see four-year college for me, necessarily, and so I went to a local Technical College.
They had a two-year co-op program for HVAC that had both hands on service training and also engineering and design components. It was an associate degree in HVAC engineering.
I enjoyed being out in the field. I rode in a service truck and was a lead service technician but then I left that company because they were having some financial issues. After leaving I went to work for a mechanical contractor for about six months. Right about then I had graduated with my associate degree.
I had come to the conclusion that I really like the industry, but I wasn’t sure that I want to be doing that type of work every day, so I decided to attend the University of Cincinnati and get a bachelor of business degree.
It worked out pretty well because, in my career, I’ve used the engineering degree, the hands-on piece of it, and the design and application.
But for my last 20 years of being on the sales side of things, all the business training comes into play with financials and everything else that goes into those roles. I probably couldn’t have picked two better degrees to get for the role that I’m in, and in the career that I chose.
What would you say today is your biggest career achievement so far?
Newport: I would say that my biggest achievement is making it to the level I’m at now, which is one of the top four executives at Habegger.
When companies say that they hire from within, I would have to say I am a poster child for that.
I started at just about the most entry-level position you can in a CSR role to now being the Director of Residential Sales for the entire corporation.
I went from a CSR, then to a Parts Manager, then I was Parts and Supplies Salesman, then a Territory Manager for 19 years, then I took over the entire region as a Regional Sales Manager and now I have been the Corporate Director of Sales for five years now.
So I think my greatest achievement has been just my rise through the organization from a really entry level role, to being one of the top five guys in the company.
Do you have any advice that you would give to a young salesperson?
The one thing I’ve always pushed is that you’re the first thing you’re trying to sell to a potential customer. So I don’t care if you’re working for Verizon, Carrier, Bryant or HARDI; it doesn’t matter. You’ve got to get that potential client or customer to like you and get to know you, and believe in you.
If you can’t, if you can’t do that, to me it doesn’t matter. Regardless of the brand or the distributor, it’s you first. If they don’t know you, like you or trust you, it doesn’t matter what brand or distributor you have behind you. That doesn’t mean anything. I think that’s so critical.
When I was a territory manager, I would tell prospective customers that they get me first. And I’ll have to prove it to you. But you’re going to see, I’m going to outwork everybody else. I’m going to be better for you than anybody else. And here’s why… You give them all the bullet points, but then you follow up and you do all those things, and they see that.
There’s one other piece and I’m real sticky on this with all of our folks in our company. The role is a 24/7 job. And maybe that sounds like a tall tale that everyone says but it’s the truth. It’s 24/7. When a customer calls, you answer, period.
I’ve had to do it with my family and now they don’t even question when I answer the phone. If you’re sitting down at dinner, at a wedding, or a funeral or something similar, sure you don’t answer. But the minute you get a break, you call them back. That includes nights, weekends, holidays and vacations because your customers appreciate that. And trust me, it builds respect with a customer that not many else can get.
This article was published in the March 2019 edition of the HARDI Thermostatus Newsletter.