Who We Are
Walt: Hi, my name is Walt Dinneen. I am the Distribution Sales Manager at FLA Technology Sales. and I’ve been with the company and am the original founder for 17 years now. I have almost 40 years of experience in the business, all in Florida as a manufacturer’s rep: Regional Manager etc. And next year will be our 18th year.
Terry: My name is Terry Johnson I’m the current president of FLA Technology Sales. My background is in electrical engineering, and I spent most of my career prior to joining FLA Technology Sales as an RF and microwave guy including business development. I joined FLA Technology Sales in 2011 and became president in 2017.
Walt: When I started the company my goal was to be different than other Manufacturers’ Rep firms. The company I was working for, I didn’t like the way they approached the market. The market was obviously changing and continues to change in Florida, and I wanted to be more focused on engineering and less on purchasing because buyers didn’t have the authority they had in the past and engineering is where it is. if you get designed in engineering, you stay there for a long time and it’s difficult to get your product out. So that’s the approach we took, and we also decided to focus more on what was really happening in Florida and that was space, aeronautics, missile and fire control, and military.
Military, because of ITAR regulations, stays in Florida and never goes overseas. Almost all the commercial business in Florida in the last 10-15 years has gone overseas and you don’t make the money when it goes overseas. Plus the fact, programs in Florida at Lockheed Martin and L3 Harris, Raytheon, DRS the legacy business goes on for a long time, so once you get something designed in like for example at Harris the METS program, we’re still getting business from that place for over 10 years on that program and it continues to go on and refuses to die so that’s more of our focus, design engineering, doing visit reports, being very specific with customers and engineers, identifying these people and passing on the information to our principles with the visit report so you have the same data that we have.
Experienced Sales Reps
Terry: Walt started preparing me on my walk to become president, a year and a half two years in advance and I started understanding the challenges that he was already facing as the president of a company. So, when I did take over, I wasn’t caught off guard, it helped tremendously – that transition period. And then also along that time span he was talking to me and telling me things that as a Rep owner, reports don’t show you. The things that he taught me that I needed to do to jump ahead and be proactive because in his many years of being a Rep he’s seen things that I had not seen because I had never been a Rep, but Walt walked me through and helped me prepare in addition to doing the reports and getting ready for the visits and (good and bad) of the job prior to me taking over.
Walt: We wanted a smooth transition. Sometimes, new owners in a rep firm can destroy the firm and you lose your focus, you don’t want to lose your focus with your customers, particularly engineers you deal with because you want them to continue to call you and you want to be able to call on them. It’s something that you must really focus on, and you want to make sure the transition is easy, smooth, and successful and it was. When I started the company years ago, we made money the first year, didn’t make a lot of money but we’ve always made money every year since. As an owner you’ve got payroll to meet every month, you want your people to make money, you want to do well, and you want to move into the future.
In the last 15 years in Florida, the top six or seven Manufacturers’ Representative Firms, the big ones that used to be the IC reps, they’re all gone, out of business. They all went out of business, every single one of them. There were some firms in Florida doing $30-$40 million a year because they had IC lines and big capacitor lines and big passive lines, and I said right from the beginning that we were not going to do integrated circuits. We’re not going to do memory. We’re not going to do DRAM. We’re not going to do SRAM. We’re not going to do the big passive lines and all those AVX’s and Muratas, and we still don’t. So, we keep our line card small and focused and very engineering intensive.
Terry: Something that I learned as a young technical sales engineer is that it’s important to take care of your customer. I realized when I was a young man that companies come and go but staying with the young engineer like myself then, I’m older now but as they grow and continue up the corporate ladder, I will work with them. Subsequently, when I joined Walt in 2011, his model of engineering focus was something that I had already done for the prior 15 to 20 years. So, FLA Technology, its desire to reach the engineer was something that I was very comfortable with, working with the design people, the staff, engineers, and the senior scientists which we do today still. That makes us special, that we are strictly engineering-focused. We spend 90+ percent of our time with engineers. We don’t like the low-hanging fruit. We go for the difficult designs. We’re used to the year, 2 years, 3 years development cycles and we understand this market. We understand how long it takes sometimes but we also understand that the customers are looking for something that is not readily available in a book or a catalog and that we have the expertise and experience, and the principles behind us to support them. We truly understand that.
Walt: Success is in the details and being very specific and giving them the information, they want. Because you always have competition so if you’re not quick to get them what they need, there’s a good chance you’re not going to get designed in and if you lose that slot, you never get it back in the military and avionics business because they rarely change or attempt to re-qualify the product unless they have a really serious issue. And in Florida, it’s all military. It’s all IN and many products have high ASPs. So, we want to make sure we got those slots.
TOLA Sales Representation
Terry: In addition to Florida, we’ve just recently hired another engineer to help us with the great states of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas. He’s a degreed engineer, a PE and someone that I’ve worked with for 20 years and now he’s representing FLA technology in those states and doing a great job. So, in addition to Florida folks, we can also help you in the region of TOLA too.
Walt: Well, it’s interesting when I heard about Terry and I called him to interview him, we met at a restaurant. He walked in and he was just so charming and dynamic, and I talked to him for 15 minutes I said to myself, “I’m just going to hire this guy because I don’t care if he’s an idiot, I like him!” But he wasn’t an idiot, he’s actually smarter than I am! He’s a degreed RF engineer. I am not, I have a business degree so when an engineer would talk to me about VSWR I’d nod my head yeah, I know what that is but he actually knows what VSWR is. So, I thought that complimented each other very well and I was right, customers love him. Everybody loves him! I love him he does a great job and he approached me to buy the company and we did, I sold it to him, and then he brought me back.
Terry: He’s my mentor right now. He’s like the sensei that taught me and now he works for me! But he’s still my sensei.
Walt: I’m like the old uncle you can’t get rid of! He keeps coming back for Sunday dinner whether you want him or not.