Case Study: Under Evaluation

This successful distributor looks for the qualities that can’t be taught.

The Pro

Name: Jordy Gamson
Title: President
Distributorship: The Ice Box (asi/229395), Atlanta

Case Study: Under Evaluation

At The Ice Box, management regularly scopes out potential new hires. Even if no specific position needs to be filled, this distributorship is always poised to hire a sales rep it believes would be a great fit.

“That faucet is always on,” says Gamson. “We’re constantly interviewing.”

As he looks at a candidate’s resume, Gamson isn’t concerned about the college the person went to, or their grades, or even industry experience, which comes with “good and bad habits,” he says. Mostly he’s looking at sales experience and recurring patterns: Does the applicant list a slew of different positions where they stayed only for a year or two? “Maybe they’re a recent college grad and those are internships,” says Gamson. “If not, either they have ADD or they’ve been asked to leave because they don’t bring non-negotiables to the table. We know there’s always a story behind every new hire. It’s rare for a sales person to leave a successful situation.”

With that in mind, Gamson and the management team try to get a feel for the bigger picture as they start bringing in candidates. After studying the resumes, they ask relevant, targeted questions to ascertain as much as possible the candidate’s sense of urgency, work ethic, likability, ability to persuade people to want to buy from them and how detail-oriented they are. “The last one is many people’s Achilles’ Heel,” says Gamson. “None of these things can be taught. Once they’re hired, we can teach them finite pieces of information about the industry. It’s like a language. But during the interview, we look for all the things we can’t teach them.”

As part of the hiring process, the candidate also sits with the Ice Box’s Culture Committee, made up of non-managers who have been deemed good judges of character. “It’s just a time for a candid chat,” says Gamson, “and then they individually report back to us about what they liked about the person and any concerns they have. It also creates a vested interest in our hiring process.”

And Gamson isn’t shy about taking his time with each candidate in order to mitigate the chance of them leaving the position prematurely. One of the longest one-on-one interviews he’s conducted was four hours; that hire is now celebrating 15 years with the company.

“Once we invest in someone, we don’t want them to flake out a month into the process,” he says. “A day or two, sure, people make mistakes when they’re just starting. But we also have a whole onboarding process, so we’re investing in their training. I want the interviewee to be able to predict how they’ll feel in the future working here.”