What 7 Women Have to Say About Finding Success in the OPE Industry

In any industry, a key ingredient in the recipe for business success is having the right people on your team. Even though the  Outdoor Power Equipment (OPE) industry has typically been dominated by men, times are changing. More and more women are finding success in dealerships, manufacturers, and service providers across North America.

We reached out to women in the OPE industry to ask about their experiences in the industry, their insights into industry trends, and their advice for other women navigating their careers.

Here’s what they had to say:

In your experience in the industry, have you noticed any changes or new trends?

Highlights:

  1. Economic downturn presents a challenge which dealers will need to adapt to.
  2. Impact of the adoption of new technologies

Despite the labor and supply challenges that have plagued the OPE industry over the past few years, year-over-year sales continued to grow and are up over pre-pandemic. However, the industry is changing, and two of the most notable changes is the potential economic downturn and the continued adoption of new technology.

  1. State of the Economy

“The near-term reality however presents us with a real chance of an economic downturn that will affect us all.  I believe this trend to be the one dealers should be thinking about now – as demand declines what brands will you stand behind, what areas of your business are recession-proof?  Where can you invest now to weather the storm?”

Angela Raddant, Director of Sales & Marketing, AriensCo

“As we all continue to manage ‘The Great Resignation’, with a record number of people quitting their jobs to pursue more flexible work schedules and the ability to work from home, landscapers and dealers will need to find services, equipment and business tools that will allow them to do more, with less human resources.”

Carissa Gingras, Director of Channel & Strategy at Oregon Tool

  1. Technology

“More dealers are stepping out of their comfort zone and expanding into additional offerings for customers. Things like mobile repair, mobile purchases and websites. Items that are more convenient for their customers to do business with a dealer.”

Krystal Green, Director of Customer Support, Ideal, c-Systems and Charter

 

“Two years ago, technology and innovation were cool, today they are a necessity. Manufacturers who innovate with this in mind will continue to garner market share.”
Beth Berry, Vice President of Turf and Ornamental, Advanced Turf Solutions

“There is also this continued adoption of technology that’s happening in outdoor power equipment dealerships. It’s been something that’s taken a little bit longer, I think in OPE than some of the other industries to really like to take and run with. But as this next generation is coming up into the business, they’re more open to ideas of integrating technology into the business and creating more of a, we like to call an effortless experience, that Amazon-esque  experience.”
Sara Hey, Vice President, Bob Clements International

 

 

What do you think is the biggest challenge dealers will face in 2022?

Highlights:

  1. Proper inventory management
  2. Continue to focus on the customer experience
  3. Labor shortages

It’s no secret that the past few years have been riddled with inventory challenges, whether that’s having low stock of models or finding the right parts for service. However, on top of inventory management, one of the biggest challenges in 2022 will be building and maintaining an exceptional customer experience, especially given the labor shortages.

 

  1. Proper inventory management

“Backorder fulfilment will continue to be the biggest challenge in the industry.  Making sure they have that right balance between how much available inventory and how much they can and have on order.”
Melanie Linnemeier, Customer Support Team Lead, c-Systems Software

 

“I think one of the biggest challenges facing dealers who are focused on servicing their customers will be global supply chain constraints.   With summer now upon us, and the beginning of Hurricane and Storm Season, dealers will need to work with OPE manufacturers who can best meet their parts and service needs.”
Carissa Gingras, Director of Channel Strategy & Marketing at Oregon Tool

  1. Continue to focus on the customer experience

“Maintaining a customer-intimate or customer-centric focus. Like many service type industries, I see a decline in how we are treating customers. Long hours, lack of employees, product shortages and fear of sickness has driven a culture of acceptance around poor customer experience.”
Angela Raddant, Director of Sales & Marketing, AriensCo

  1. Labor shortages

 

 

“Finding people who want to work. Every dealership I’ve visited recently had open positions, but they can’t get people to even apply for jobs.”
Laura Wickard, Implementation Manager, Charter Software

 

What is one piece of advice you would like to give to other women in the OPE industry?

Highlights:

  1. Stick to your guns
  2. Share your ideas
  3. Be prepared
  4. Network with other successful women in the industry

Change is happening and more women are finding their place in the OPE industry, whether that in OPE dealerships, manufacturers, or service providers. To maintain momentum and continue driving the industry forward, there’s several things that can be done.

Here’s what each woman had to say for advice:

 

 

“My advice to women in the dealership industry is to stick to your guns.  Don’t let people question your knowledge on a topic and don’t stop learning new things.”
Melanie Linnemeier, Customer Support Team Lead, c-Systems Software

 

“I have been working in OPE for 17 years, most of my career – so I honestly do not know anything else. I have loved every moment of my career among some of the greatest people found anywhere – who genuinely care about their communities and the team of employees they regard as family or that is actually family! I am grateful to work for a dealer direct manufacturer which has allowed me to have strong relationships with some of the top dealers in this industry. In general, I would encourage women in any industry to never let the decisions of others de-rail your self-confidence. Empathy, compassion, and a variety of perspectives are as important in this industry as in any other.”
Angela Raddant, Director of Sales & Marketing, AriensCo

 

“Always bring your ideas to the table. No idea is too big or too small, just make your voice be heard and don’t be afraid to speak up. Confidence goes a long way with this male dominated industry.”
Krystal Green, Director of Customer Support, Ideal, c-Systems and Charter

 

“I have found that the most efficient ran dealerships usually have a woman in management at some level. So, my advice is to not hesitate to step up and share organization and management skills so the whole company can benefit.”
Laura Wickard, Implementation Manager, Charter Software

“Ask for a seat at the table and when you are given the greenlight, show up better prepared than anyone else. Success is a great deodorant.”
Beth Berry, Vice President Service Industry Solutions and Cloud Based Software, Advanced Turf Solutions

“I think it’s critical for women in this industry to identify and participate in a woman-oriented association, group forum, or social media group that allows them to reach out for any type of advice. It’s unlikely whatever questions or challenges one woman has in this industry hasn’t been answered or experienced by someone else in this industry.”
Carissa Gingras, Director of Channel Strategy & Marketing at Oregon Tool

“There are people who will walk into your dealership and say, ‘I want to talk to another man about this,’ but don’t let that deter you from the fact that you know what you’re doing and what you’re talking about. And you’re confident in that. In the grind of working in a dealership, running a dealership, and then dealing with customers who challenge you, it can feel exhausting. But as a woman, you bring so much to the table on so many levels. So, don’t let that be undermined someone coming into your dealership and treating you like you are worth less.”
Sara Hey, Vice President, Bob Clements International

Driving the industry forward with confidence

Times are changing, and more women are finding their stride in the OPE industry. We are very excited about the progress being made, not only within dealerships but with the representation in the buyer persona as well. Remember: be confident, be prepared and speak up!

Thank you to all the women who shared their experience and advice with us, it’s been an absolute pleasure to connect with you and we greatly appreciate it!

Share: