Larry Robbins: A Salesman to the Core

Larry RobbinsLarry Robbins, our Vice President of Sales, wouldn’t change a thing about his job or the path that brought him here. He’s been in sales for 30 years out of a 37-year career, all of which has been in manufacturing. His dad opened a machine tool distributorship after World War II, and when he was old enough (or maybe even a bit before), Larry used to hang around, fiddle with the machines and ask a lot of questions. This was back when state-of-the-art machine tools were NC (numeric control), programmed by a series of switches and punched-paper tape. Larry tried his hand at it and was hooked.

Following His Heart
After high school, Larry went to school to study Criminal Justice, but decided he’d rather talk shop than arrest bad guys. A self-proclaimed bleeding heart, he knew he was too apt to give people second and third chances. He worked with his dad for a while then accepted a position as sales rep for a modular workholding company. He soon discovered that his personality perfectly suited him for this line of work. When the company was sold, he started his own business as a manufacturer's rep (for SMW Autoblok among others). His new enterprise also created customized tooling. Success came quickly and the organization grew to the point where it employed 19 people. When Larry realized that he had done such a good job in hiring top talent that the company literally ran itself, he sold it and looked for a new challenge.

Finding a Home
He accepted a position as VP of Sales for an international cutting tool company and spent two and a half years constantly traveling around the world. He moved around the country 19 times as his base of operations changed, but the traveling soon grew old. In May of 2007, he joined SMW Autoblok as a Regional Sales Manager. It didn’t take long for him to work his way up to Vice President of Sales in 2010. In this role, he is responsible for our sales strategy and the people who make it happen. This includes hiring sales managers, training them for the long run and making sure they are placed in positions that best fit their talents.

Honesty SellsIMG_2565 2
Larry’s philosophy of sales success is to always be honest, even if it means talking about what the competition can do. He knows our product will come out on top, more often than not. “Anyone can sell a product to someone once,” he remarked. “But it takes a special salesman to create a relationship and sell to them year after year.” This talent enabled Larry to take one customer who had had a bad experience, win them over, and turn them into an $8 million account within 5 years.

Free Time
Larry admits to being a Yankee fan at heart, but he has moved so often he usually adopts the local team. He used to work on hot rods and his motorcycle, but finds at this point in his life he’d rather just buy what wants rather than work on something. On weekends, you can find him riding his fully purchased bike and enjoying the sights.

What does Larry really like to do when he’s not on the clock? He talks to his friends about machining and workholding! “I can’t help it,” he said. “Everyone I know is in the business and that’s what we like to talk about.” He has been best friends with some of our customers for over 35 years, so it’s no wonder he says his career is his passion.

The simple fact is Larry loves to sell. Even if you have a casual discussion with him, he will have his facts and figures lined up. He loves to research and pick up knowledge he can use in the future. He believes there is no such thing as a stupid question, but he does say that the question you don’t ask can keep you in the dark. “There's nothing wrong with admitting you don’t know about something,” he said. “You just need to know who to ask.” It seems like a safe bet that to find the answers, you should start with Larry.