Multiline Marketing Group’s Ray Rodriguez
By: Michelle Bell
Ray Rodriguez is one of the 13 people chosen from industry nominations as the latest crop of People To Watch. He was working for BIC for nearly seven years when he had his career epiphany. On the advice of distributors he knew from around the country, he started his own company, Multiline Marketing Group (MMG) and hasn’t looked back. “Several of them said ‘Ray, become a multiline rep, but do it differently,’” he recounts.
So Rodriguez created a business plan to build an independent manufacturer’s representative national sales force for several large suppliers – an innovative approach in the promotional products industry. “Unfortunately I was unproven, and so was my plan.” He says. “[But] I’m happy to say my greatest accomplishment in the industry has just occurred.”
It took 10 years to fully implement his plan of national coverage, but today, as the president of MMG, he has 15 sales offices across the country and seven award-winning suppliers.
Rodriguez says it’s the constantly changing environment and challenging marketing decisions encountered on a daily basis that get him motivated and keep him fascinated by the industry.
“I’d like for people to look at Ray Rodriguez and MMG and say we’re on the cutting edge by having the first independent national sales force, an active, full service website and our own mini catalog,” he says. “We’ll continue to approach the industry in innovative ways to service our suppliers and distributors.”
One aspect of the industry that Rodriguez would like to see reexamined is the increased number of trade shows. “I’d like a much narrower focus and a return to basics, calling on distributors one-on-one,” he says. “Between the amount of end-user shows, regional shows and national shows, it’s all a supplier can do just to keep up with it, time-wise and financially.”
Looking down the road and across the globe, Rodriguez plans to take MMG’s sales and marketing philosophies beyond U.S. borders, eventually expanding into Canada, Mexico, and Europe. “I believe it’s time for American suppliers to take a serious look at competing worldwide in the promotional products industry,” he states.
He sees MMG being proactive, moving forward and utilizing the technological advances available via the Internet, as he believes computers best facilitate the exposure of the company’s products and services to distributors. “Foreign suppliers have been aggressively infiltrating our borders,” Rodriguez says. “We need to go on the offensive.”