Mobile Showrooms tend to catch attention. Whether at trade shows or a location near you, these burly showstoppers come with all the bells and whistles, and most importantly, people who will explain a wide array of product information in a digestible way. The Smith Mobile Showroom is one such example of how a mobile training program can better connect quality offerings to the trades they serve.
Jay R. Smith Mfg. Co., which has been jointly owned by Smith Industries Inc. and Morris Group International since 2010, has a mission to be the company of choice in the specification plumbing and drainage industry. Smith is a manufacturer of engineered plumbing and drainage products in the non-residential construction industry.
Smith understands the value that in-person, hands-on experience continues to play for engineers and contractors.
“Smith has always been committed to education, and we continue to look for new ways to reach this industry. Our marketing team has aggressively adapted, and our training materials have evolved,” says Eric Pilas, national sales manager. “Today, social media plays a large role in getting the word out. However, we continue to believe it is important to be in front of the engineers and contractors. The trailer provides a new platform of training that allows the visualization of an installed product.”
Smith created the mobile showroom with its customer in mind. The trailer is comprised of everything from floor and trench drains to water closet supports, trap seals and access doors. It also features Acorn Engineering Co.’s urinal and toilet, Murdock Mfg’s indoor drinking fountain and bottle filler, and a Neo-Metro sink.
At the recent American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE) Expo in Phoenix, I experienced this trailer myself. It makes sense that people who spend their time working with products and design up close would require this kind of sensory experience.
“Engineers do not want to just look at a product from afar; they want to hold it and rotate it. Instead of nailing our products down, we made them removable so you can get a better look,” Pilas says. “We also have our products displayed in an installation setting. This configuration allows engineers and contractors to see what’s ‘behind the wall’ so you know exactly how Smith products should be installed.”
Engineers are not the only audience the Smith Mobile Showroom caters to. Representatives remain flexible and cognizant of the different needs of providers in this industry, which includes contractors and distributors.
“Engineers, contractors and distributors have different demands and requirements that drive their buying decisions. Smith has a strong value proposition that meets the needs of all three,” Pilas explains. “For example, our message to the contractor is twofold. First and foremost, it’s imperative that when they think Smith, they know they will receive the finest quality. Secondly, we focus heavily on our innovative products that aid in the reduction of labor costs. Our ability to visually show these items and have the end-user ‘touch and feel’ the products has been outstanding.”
The mobile showroom will have been on the road one year this May. Since it started its journey from Montgomery, Alabama, it has been all the way up the East Coast, into Canada, and down through the Midwest. It is currently making its way up the West Coast. Smith has received a lot of feedback on the showroom tour.
“We’ve received some great comments during our travels across the country. After the presentation held at a fabrication shop for contractors, we had to reach out to a distribution partner to coordinate a delivery for the following morning,” Pilas says. “The contractor converted to our product on the spot due to the labor-saving component. I’m pleased to report the contractor is a satisfied Smith customer.”
Smith is interested in continuing to address future outlets of the ‘touch and feel’ experience.
“Our charge is always to better understand our customers’ requirements and respond with new and innovative products to meet/exceed their needs. We’ve listened to our customers and have many new products in the pipeline that we look forward to introducing to the marketplace,” Pilas concludes.
If you’re interested in checking out some of what the Smith Mobile Showroom has to offer, please visit the virtual tour online at www.jrsmith.com/smith-mobile-vehicle.