When I spoke to Darren Schollmeyer on the phone, he said, “I don’t know how you can make this sound sexy.”
Perhaps it isn’t sexy, but it certainly is essential: in many ways, Schollmeyer functions as the glue that holds the sales department at Airguns of Arizona together.
Schollmeyer explains, “My primary job is to talk to customers, but I also handle a lot of the back end of the business, the billing, the grunt work, making sure that orders are properly process (the detail stuff in the sales process that a lot of folks find annoying); I kind of watch over the sales department.”
He adds, “I know Robert Buchanan because his son and mine are in the Boy Scouts together. In 2010 I had my own company but things went south. Robert needed help because AoA is growing.”
“So pretty quickly, I find myself testing guns, scoping guns, and answering the phone at the same time. I clawed my way through it, but I can tell you that when you are testing guns every day, you learn very quickly. The first time you fire a springer followed by shooting a precharged gun, you go ‘Whoa!’ I did that for three years before moving more into a sales and sales management role here at AoA.”
Schollmeyer says, “I’ve been a salesman my entire life, and I am proud of that, but – emphatically – that doesn’t mean selling people stuff they don’t need. If I have one talent, I know that I am good at finding the right product for the right person that is going to make them happy at the end of the day. That means I have to know the products very well, and I have to listen very carefully to the customers to discover what they need and want.”
Now, here’s the weird part: Schollmeyer is not an airgun enthusiast. “Oh, I’ll go on pigeon shoots, participate in some airgun benchrest, and sometimes shoot a CO2 lever action with my boys, and I enjoy it, but on weekends, you’ll most likely find me doing something with my three sons or my wife. I’m assistant scout master of a troop with 50 boys, and that generally means camping once a month.”
He says, “At AoA, we pride ourselves on not being order takers. When you call AoA, everyone you talk to could be considered an airgun expert. We want to make sure that the person who is calling is getting the right product for their need.”
“Toward that end,” he adds, “the first Wednesday of every month, we close the shop at noon, have some lunch together and have training and product seminars. Everybody gets to see all the latest stuff, to touch it, and to shoot it, that way, no one in the shop is talking about something they don’t know about. When it comes to airguns, there are dozens of tools in the chest, and they all meet different tasks.”
The way Schollmeyer explains it, I think his assessment is wrong — picking up the phone and talking to someone who has in-depth product knowledge is pretty sexy.
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.
— Jock Elliott