Last year, General Pipe Cleaners celebrated 90 years in business. We’ve had a lot of fun reflecting on the great product innovations that have led to where we are today, but we thought it was just as important to remember some of the people who’ve helped fuel General’s success.
One person that comes to mind is Bill Wheeler, hardworking and longtime sales rep who sold General machines for nearly 30 years. During his time representing General in the Florida territory, Bill received our “Outstanding Performance Award” in 2005 and the “Bob Gelman Lifetime Achievement Award” in 2013. He also witnessed some major changes within the industry, such as the introduction of water jetters and sewer inspection cameras.
General recently caught up with Bill and had a nice chat about his time working with the company. Here are some highlights from the conversation:
How were you first introduced to General Pipe Cleaners’ line of products?
I started with a manufacturer’s rep company in Jacksonville, Florida. They had been the reps for General for about 40 years. I didn’t know anything about sewer snakes when I started. That was in January 1988. In November of that year, I first went to McKees Rocks for their school (Drain Brain University).
As a salesman, you had a great reputation for making yourself very familiar with the products you sold. Why was it so important for you to be so thorough with these machines?
I’m big about customer service. If somebody was having a problem, a lot of people say, “Here’s a 1-800 number. Call the manufacturer.” Well, that doesn’t exactly build a lot of faith in the tool line, so I was more hands-on. I wanted to learn how these machines worked, what to look for and what to tell people what not to do. Plus, if a contractor sees a manufacturer’s rep getting their hands dirty, they appreciate it a bit more.
What were some of the main selling points you used when introducing customers to General products?
I would always say, “Hey, this is a patented cable.” I would explain features like how the wire is coiled tightly around 49-strand aircraft-type wire rope. I used to say, “If you’re kinking this cable, you’re abusing it!”
Also, General was also all about safety as well, with their leather gloves, GFCIs and the air foot pedal.
What are some of the things you liked particularly about the company?
General’s a smaller company, so they can make changes quickly. If there’s ever an issue, they can adapt and go down on the factory floor and make that change in ways that larger manufacturers can’t.
They’ve stood behind their products. If there was something wrong, they would take care of it. Also, they offered a wide line that most manufacturers did not offer.
For more information, contact the Drain Brains® at General at 800-245-6200 or by email – [email protected] You can also communicate with us by using our handy form too. Visit our Where to Buy page in order to find the dealer nearest you.