IN THE KNOW with Ed Lachelt
For over 25 years, Ed Lachelt’s agency - Lachelt Marketing - has been putting in the work. Over the years they’ve successfully managed countless in-demand brands and through the standard set by Ed’s effort and customer service, the agency has built an impressive customer list of over 400 accounts in Western Canada. He’s also created a legacy of incredible reps working across our industry who can all claim that they got their start under his wing. Currently, the agency boasts an eclectic mix of brands including SAXX, Sanuk, Corkcicle, Mai Underwear, Jansport, Eagle Creek, Solid State, Crusheyes and Kreedom eyewear. We caught up with Ed to chat about team building during the pandemic, and some predictions about how our business will look moving forward.
If I recall correctly, you moved your showroom into the FX Building near the beginning of the Pandemic. Have you been able to get good use of the new space, considering the propensity for people to work from home for the last year?
We basically moved in and covid hit 4 months later. The space is great, and we have a bar, so we didn’t have to go far to have a drink! The office is spacious enough to keep us socially distanced at our workstations. Working from home was also a great option and anyone that preferred that did. For some, it didn’t take long to miss the office banter and they came back a few days a week. Remember we do have a bar.
You shuffled the deck a bit at the agency in the last year, as well. What's it like building a team during a pandemic?
Interesting for sure. We lost a few key people with several years under their belts! I managed to pick up Sophie Gillette whom I had worked with for over a decade as she worked previously with two of my distributors.
Sean McMillan, (currently the Canadian Manager for the Stokehouse brands - Vissla, Amuse and Sisstr) and I teamed together to start a new distribution company, Avenue Distribution. So now we run Lachelt Marketing, Big Wave Sales and Avenue Distribution out of 187.
We quickly realized that we already had job’s so we brought in an industry Vet Drew Hawkshaw as a managing partner. Launching new brands during a pandemic was difficult but we are starting to get into a groove and things are doing great.
What percentage of showings did you host last year vs online meetings?
Definitely more online meetings as we were restricted for travel and all shows were cancelled. We still had a handful of visits to the showroom but very few.
What was a process or tool that you learned to work with last year that you had never thought to use previously to work with your shop and brands?
Zoom and Teams were very impactful. I have always shot video presentations but just learned to do it better (I hope).
What did you do to improve your video showings? New Tech tools? Better Editing?
We got a few different ring lights and even purchased a 4K webcam. After a few video shoots and lots of Zoom calls I did find that that keeping it simple worked the best. I reverted back to just using my Iphone as the camera and decided that limited editing kept it real!
Our whole industry changed how it worked one way or another last year. What changes do you think are permanent, and which ones do you think will go away?
Permanent – I believe life as a rep has changed and will forever. We will be doing more video conferencing, and shops will selling more online. Calling to follow up with accounts daily is now more important than ever.
Go Away – Not shaking hands and hugging and applying sanitizer 45 times a day.
Be it a brand or shop you work with, who killed it last year?
One month before the pandemic hit we picked up JanSport and Eagle Creek. JanSport being a backpack line (School) and Eagle Creek a travel bag and accessory company saw drastic declines in business but once School is back and travel is turned back on I feel they will be hot commodities. Saxx and Corkcicle haven’t skipped a beat, sales dipped a little as retail was closed for a few months but were are seeing great things for 2021.
For shops honestly, they all killed it! Most of them figured out how to pivot to online sales, curbside pickup and social media selling.
How did your job change to support retailers new needs? Were you set up for e-commerce assets prior to last year?
We helped where we could with suggestions on setting up websites with shopify billing through QuickBooks etc. We offered the correct images for online and assets like banners and great photos. For accounts completely new to selling online even help in getting packing and shipping dialed with any knowledge help we could offer.
Whats next for Ed Lachelt?
Slow and steady as things get back to normal. Looking forward to getting out to see accounts again, and an actual in-person sales meeting will be a nice treat as well. Lachelt Markeitng will continue to truck along and I am excited to be part of Avenue Distribution and see where we can grow that with our current offering of products with new ones on the horizon.
Thanks Ed, we’re looking forward to seeing your business continue to grow!