Next year marks MANA’s 75th anniversary. A milestone anniversary often prompts discussions about how much has changed over the years. Discussions like: “In the future, will there still be manufacturers’ representatives?”
Yes, many things have changed. But when customers buy mission-critical products that make the difference between keeping their factories running smoothly and shutting down their production lines, there will always be a need for trusted resources. And those trusted resources are very often manufacturers’ reps.
I can’t think of a better example of the ways that some things don’t change than this excerpt from the September 1949 issue of The Agent and Representative (now MANA’s flagship publication Agency Sales magazine) written by manufacturers’ rep Edgar A. Wilcox, MANA’s first president:
“Chas B. Roth pointed out in our columns last month, in ‘The Selling Parade,’ that ‘salesmen’ are still not professionals. But ‘sales agents’ had better be professionals — in business, as they are, for themselves — although there admittedly remain many things yet to be accomplished for the well-being of such agency profession. MANA aims to elevate such profession in the opinion of manufacturers, suppliers and others, as well as in the opinion of agents themselves; to make it an object of true respect rather than of weakness or ridicule; and to improve its position morally, politically and legally.
“It takes energy, initiative, and a great deal of unselfish devotion to a cause to found and establish a national association like MANA — an organization in which any agent, no matter how large or small, may indeed be proud to be a member. It can mean more to you, bring you more satisfaction, and increase your income to a greater extent, than any group to which you as an agent could possibly belong.”
These words from 1949 could just as easily have been written last week. Sometimes, the more things change, the more they remain the same. One thing that has not changed, and probably never will change, is that there will always be a place for trusted resources like manufacturers’ representatives.