INDUSTRY: Genesis Attachments takes a bite at the demolition market

What's the secret to becoming a successful salesperson in the manufacturing market? According to Shane Kuhlmey, national sales manager at Genesis Attachments, it's all in the wrist.

A worker at Genesis Attachments grinds a piece of new machinery used in the demolition industry. Sales staff working for the Superior-based manufacturing firm make sure the shears and attachments the company makes get out to customers, keeping other workers employed. (Jed Carlson/

What's the secret to becoming a successful salesperson in the manufacturing market? According to Shane Kuhlmey, national sales manager at Genesis Attachments, it's all in the wrist.

"You get 30 seconds to make a good first impression and in Northern Minnesota you get the handshake," said Kuhlmey. "And if you don't get that right -- well limp noodles just won't work for you."

Genesis is a Superior-based company that creates shears and attachments for demolition machinery. Founded in 1997, the company has quickly expanded and now services the global demolition machinery market, with interests across the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia.

"Our equipment goes to war every day," said Kuhlmey, explaining that Genesis machinery is needed to be able to break down the strongest metal.

The workrooms of Genesis are noisy and dusty with welders, assemblers and machinists all scrambling to fill orders that need to be shipped that day.


But none of these jobs would be possible without support from the slightly quieter, but just as hectic side of the Genesis building: the sales offices.

Before each piece of steel gets cut, welded and shaped into the piece of machinery it will eventually become, potential customers need to be found and orders need to be placed. This is the job of the Genesis salesperson.

Genesis employs eight regional sales managers who are each assigned a territory -- a designated number of states in the U.S. The regional sales managers are responsible for maintaining relationships with and servicing the machinery of existing clients and developing relationships with potential clients.

Closer to home, Genesis employs six sales staff who work the phone lines, taking orders from the field representatives and customers themselves. They are also responsible for helping their clientele deal with specific problems they may encounter.

Curt Helmen, inside sales manager and 12-year veteran at Genesis, knows firsthand how challenging finding a solution to some of those problems can be. But Helmen says it's those challenges that keep his job on the phone lines interesting.

"The most fun part of my job is the interview when you get to get to the bottom of the problem that a customer's having," said Helmen. "You just try to stay very quiet and listen through it and not react to it until he has the whole story on the table, and then maybe you have something that you can work with to solve a problem."

Rob Schlichting, regional parts manager, also likes the challenge of dealing with problematic situations. Prior to his employment at Genesis, Schlichting worked at a car dealership and said he gained knowledge in how to relate to an upset customer from his time there.

"You've owned a car, I'm sure," said Schlichting, "You know what it's like when a car doesn't run, how angry that makes you. So it helped me a lot."


Schlichting said most of the job of a salesperson is to help the customer understand what it is they need. He said that some college and experience in customer service goes a long way to creating a successful career in sales. "There's not a substitute for experience but if you're willing to work hard and get used to your customer, study your customer, you'll do good."

Both Schlichting and Helmen couldn't stress the importance customer service has in creating a customer base that is happy with the products they purchase from Genesis.

"The most important thing is to listen," said Helmen. "The more words you say in a sales situation, the less likely the sale is going to occur."

As for Schlichting, he spends the first hour of every morning going over the orders that were placed and shipped the day before, checking for accuracy and timeliness of outgoing orders.

Kuhlmey says good customer service is a must for the salespeople he hires, along with drive, initiative and determination. Kuhlmey says these things are especially important because creating a solid customer base usually takes time and effort.

"The biggest challenge for salespeople is the letdown, the desire to accomplish something and the time between wins," said Kuhlmey.

With a mostly commission-based salary, the time between sales can play a crucial role in determining paychecks. But Kuhlmey says that with hard work and perseverance, monetary rewards can be exponential.

Though Schlichting and Helmen put the salary of a new salesperson to be in the margins of $30,000 and an experienced one to be at $70,000, Kuhlmey says the salary range at Genesis is limitless.


"There's really no window in sales," said Kuhlmey. "True sales shouldn't have a salary put to it. If I pay a percentage on a certain number of sales, I'm not going to stop paying that just because you sell more."

Kuhlmey also says there are many other perks to the job including travel and the ability to speak with customers all over the world.

For those who want to enter the manufacturing sales market, Genesis is currently looking to add people with sales experience to their staff. They also have their eye out for qualified welders, machinists and customer service representatives.

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