Interview: Gerald ‘Jerry’ Satoren, NATM
The following interview was conducted at NATM’s Fall 2014 meeting, just as Satoren began his term as the buying group’s Executive Director.
Dealerscope: You have a very well-rounded résumé in the industry, having worked with major manufacturers and distributors prior to your position with NATM. What do you feel are the strongest suits you’re bringing to the job from all of your experience?
Jerry Satoren: I think that résumé is really probably the reason I was selected for the job. I have a lot of different perspectives, many years, certainly on the wholesale side as a vendor calling on these retailers—and the skills that I have as a salesperson, and I really think that’s the most important thing. All of those years, whether it was [as an] executive or I was carrying a bag, I was always in a sales position and I was always with customers and I learned to listen. And when you listen, you understand people’s needs. And I think one of the things that the NATM guys have always liked about me, and the reason they liked to do business with me, was that I did understand their needs. … To lead a buying group, you have to know everyone in the industry—both sides, retail and wholesale.
DS: Right now, membership is at 10 major dealers. You’ve announced that one of your goals as the new Executive Director is to grow that number of dealers. What criteria would any potential new members have to meet to be considered?
Satoren: Historically it had been a numerical number with territorial restrictions. I think our interest now is not so much in an absolute number—or if a fringe piece of someone’s market touches on a fringe piece of another member’s market, it’s really not an issue. What we’re looking for is a leader in an individual market to finish out our national footprint. We look at the market share for our members. So if NATM can continue to add members that are leaders, the household name in its market, of course, besides the big box—that’s the type of member we’re looking for. What that number is, I don’t know. We’re not looking for a particular number, we’re looking at the right fit for the group … And the other thing that’s really important is that we are looking for selling floors. It’s not Internet guys, it’s really [retailers] with an educated sales force that can sell up.