Jack Hutchinson, VP of Sales for HVACR Business
Originally published: 04.01.14 by Terry Tanker
It is with heavy hearts that HVACR Business announces the sudden passing of Jack Hutchinson, Vice President of Sales, on March 13, 2014. HVACR Business Publisher Terry Tanker collected memories from those who knew him well to create this month's 20 Questions column. Jack had a charismatic, witty charm, and an often irreverent humor, making his family, friends, business associates, and even complete strangers laugh, and smile.
1. Did you have any hobbies?
Yes, many. Riding motorcycles, shooting handguns, brewing beer, and playing with m grandkids. The grandkids were a recent development; I wanted to wait to get to know them until they got out of diapers.
2. What type of motorcycle did you have?
I had a 2003 Harley Davidson Road King and traded it in for a brand new Street Glide last year.
3. Did you ever consider keeping both?
I tried that about 10 years ago. I had a bike I really liked, it was customized just perfectly, and it was paid for. But there was a new model I just had to have. I earned a large commission check and bought the new one. When my wife asked me why I had two bikes in the garage, I said: "Because I can." I went on the road that week and came home to a house full of new draperies. When I asked her why she spent all that money, she said: "Because I can." I sold the old bike the following week.
4. Rumor has it you liked to take the bike on "road trips." Where did you go?
Just about everywhere. I've been to Sturgis, South Dakota; Daytona bike week; and Milwaukee. I've had a lot of seat time.
5. Did you favor wearing a helmet?
Yes, everyone should wear a brain bucket.
6. What went on during these trips?
I've been sworn to secrecy. But I can tell you my cell phone camera got a work out.
7. Come on — just one story?
Well, I suppose enough time has passed to tell this one. In 2003 I attended the Harley- Davidson 100th year anniversary Bryant dealer ride in Milwaukee with my good friend John Gibbons. It all started when I heard about a bunch of the Bryant factory guys riding up to Milwaukee over Labor Day weekend to meet up with their distributor, Auer Steel. A lot of Bryant's contractor customers from all over the country would be there as well. It was a chilly morning but we rode out to the rolling hills west of Milwaukee. Later we headed into town for a big concert featuring an unknown, surprise act. Of course we had parked our bikes and found a nice brew-pub for a couple (5-6) beers and some good German food before going to the concert, which we speculated to feature either ZZ Top or The Rolling Stones. To our surprise, it was Elton John — which almost caused a riot. As people left, we made our way to the front and had a great time — I know this because John told me... apparently I found a good piece of ground, laid down, and took a nap! John also told me I was snoring in cadence to Rocket Man!
8. I understand you spent a lot of time on the road as VP of Sales. How did you determine how often to go and how long to stay?
Simple: my wife Doreen told me. Happy wife = happy life.
9. At a recent association meeting you didn't stay at the Ritz — why?
Oh, well, some call me frugal, but there's no better place to lay your head than a LaQuinta Inn and they are very reasonably priced.
10. What are indispensable qualities salespeople should have?
In no particular order, you have to enjoy a good cold micro-brew and a cigar. And, you should never be late going to the bar. Next, you should have an arsenal of jokes. Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to be politically correct.
11. So, which is better: a cold craft beer or a good imported cigar?
That would depend on which one is free. I can usually get a customer to pay for the beer but it's really hard to find a place to smoke a cigar anymore, which is really a shame.
12. How did you get "hot" sales leads?
Those hot leads are tough. One of our board members gave me a "hot" lead. I arranged an appointment with the prospect. A couple days later the board member called back to see if I was able to make the sale. He said, "Jack, did you get an order?" I replied, "No, I got two orders ... GET OUT and STAY OUT!"
13. What important lessons would you like to pass on to new sales people?
That really depends on the states they cover. For example, if you rep Kentucky for us, I would tell you: never buy bottles of bourbon in the summer and store them in a hot trunk. They tend to explode and you don't want to have to explain the lingering scent of alcohol that consumes your car.
14. What was the best part of sales?
Sales is very relationship-centric. And my best advice is to always leave customers laughing, and if you're lucky, you'll also call many of them friends.
15. How many sales calls did you make in your career?
It's impossible to say really. But I feel like I knew everyone. I had to go to the AHR Expo a few days early and stay a few days late just to talk to everyone I knew.
16. We spoke with your assistant Barb. She said you were "technology challenged." Is there any truth to that?
No. That's not true.
17. What about the time you called the office from Atlanta and said the ringer on your phone was broken and you were headed to the Verizon store?
Turning the volume all the way down could happen to anyone.
18. And the consistent PC problems?
I never should have bought that brand of PC — it was terrible.
19. And the tablet?
I don't have a tablet. Oh, wait, maybe I do — my grandson Luke uses that!
20. Do you realize you're the only person to appear on the cover of HVACR Business (January 2007) and interviewed on the 20 Questions page?
Yes, I'm aware and considering the requirements I don't recommend it — if you know what I mean ...