Nov 29

An Unexpected Beginning

By Pat Jones | Ready for a change, Bill Smith decided to take his superintendent skills and launch into an agronomic sales career last year. Once he joined the Van Diest Supply team, the whole world turned upside down with the pandemic. Instead of stepping back, Bill plunged full force into learning about Aquatrols products and how he could help his customers in the heaviest play conditions we’ve seen in years.

Bill Smith picked a crazy time to begin his career in agronomic sales. The former super had only recently joined the team at Van Diest Supply Company, a longtime Midwest turf and ag supplier. Just as he was getting his feet under him: Boom! Pandemic.

“Illinois shut down for golf and I didn’t travel because I didn’t want to endanger anyone else, so it was all texting, emails and calls. But we found a way to get them stuff because that’s what we do.”

Things changed quickly as the pandemic turned into Golf-palooza in Illinois and around the world. “By June it was like the ‘90s again. It was great that clubs made up for lost ground and the trend has continued.”

One upside of the shutdown was that it gave him time to teach himself more in-depth about the products he was now selling. He’d used Revolution® as a superintendent but needed to learn more about the rest of the Aquatrols portfolio. “We spent a lot of time on Zoom learning about the products from their team,” he recalls. “It was extremely useful.”

One outcome of learning about the technologies: he’s become a believer in putting Dispatch® in the tank for improved infiltration and pre-emergence and insecticide sprays.

He’s also seen big interest in combatting localized dry spot using Aqueduct Flex®. “I’ve had lots of courses start using it for greens and hot spots on fairways,” says Smith. “It’s also great for sod. It really helps reduce the water needs during installation.”

“Aqueduct Flex is such a good recovery product for localized dry spot. It’s a no-brainer to keep a bag in your cart to fix trouble spots.”

He also felt fortunate to have help from his Aquatrols territory manager, John Turner. “He did a great job of bringing me up to speed and we did some very helpful zoom training with the Aquatrols team. He’ll join me on calls and help with recommendations. He’s been a great partner.”

And the two weren’t strangers. “I’ve known JT for 30 years. He’s such a good guy and he always knows how to find the customer’s needs. That was invaluable to me as a superintendent.”

So how does Smith plan to move forward working with customers? “I just want to build on what I have guys trying now and get them started with other products that I think would help them. In the end I just try to focus on the needs of the customer and find a solid solution. Having access to Aquatrols’ portfolio has been a great help in doing that for my customers.”

The company’s reputation for quality helps a lot. “Like Van Diest, Aquatrols has been around forever so you don’t need to sell the company. My biggest goal is simply to share more information about them because the product line fits in so many ways. The variety of their portfolio is just amazing.”

Smith says he’s still learning but he knows one thing for sure: “It’s all about relationships and building trust. Don’t blow smoke. And treat them like I wanted to be treated when I was in their shoes.”


About The Author

Pat Jones has been writing about the golf course business for 33 years. He also teaches and speaks regularly on the state of the industry and trends in the market. Jones is no stranger to working with the Aquatrols brand having served as an advisory member of the company’s board of directors from 2002-2010. Today, his firm Flagstick LLC provides content, research and strategy to companies, distributors and associations in the market.