You hear about lots of reps who say they have been working for the family's rep agency all of their lives, but how many agents can say they made their first sales call when they were nine years old?

Mike Gorin of Gorin-Hopper-McCoy, the winner of the 2010 GEM Award for Independent Manufacturers Representatives hit the road earlier than most. When he was kid, traveling with his father, Tom Gorin, he got some early lessons about how to deal with angry customers. When his dad had to visit with an upset purchasing agent, he would sometimes say to his son, “Mike, go in there and see so-and-so and ask him to give your daddy an order.”

That approach to customer relations worked pretty well back in the day, but Mike Gorin says isn't planning on sending his nine-year-old daughter into any customers anytime. The business world sure has changed back since back then, and for Gorin-Hopper-McCoy it has gotten a whole lot bigger, particularly since the company expanded into Florida. Today the agency has six outside salespeople in the state, and Florida represents its biggest sales potential. Gorin-Hopper-McCoy has eight salespeople in Georgia and Alabama.

Whether it was calling on customers with his dad at age nine or at age 15 unloading Broan range hoods, flex conduit or PVC pipe, Mike says the rep business is in his genes. He came back to it after earning a B.A. in finance from the University of Georgia and working as a mortgage banker for a while. When he returned to the family business as an outside salesperson in Florida, he honed his selling by working with his father, whom he calls the best salesman he ever saw. From another key mentor, Vince Rego of Encore Wire, he learned the value of running a disciplined business.

Today, he is putting his own imprint on the business. For instance, as part of its GHM Solutions marketing initiative, on sales calls, the company recently started providing distributors, electrical contractors and other end users with a large clear plastic bag emblazoned with the Gorin-Hopper-McCoy logo that's stuffed with either product samples or cut sheets. They hand out a thousand of these bags every 60 days.

It's an interesting blend of the old and the new at Gorin-Hopper -McCoy. Along with this GHM Solutions marketing initiative, Mike Gorin relies on a selling strategy his grandfather used decades and decades ago. On the business cards of all Gorin-Hopper-McCoy is a simple red dot. It's there for one reason: As a reminder to always ask for the order. It worked for Mike's grandfather, and for his father, Tom, at A.A. Gorin Sales. It still works for Mike and his team today at Gorin-Hopper-McCoy.