Horizon Academy Trip - Wrap Up

The third and final day at Horizon took place at their headquarters (pictured above). We met with CEO Joe Ambrose, who took a few minutes to address us. Following that, we were taken to the service center, where a surprisingly small service staff answered our questions and performed some demonstrations on how they repair their various wares. They answered all of our questions in great detail - it’s obvious these guys are very, very good at what they do.

After that, we discussed ways Horizon could be doing better in places like advertising, dealer support, and other housekeeping sorts of things. We were also afforded a look into the distribution center (or the “DC” to all Horizon staff). That was impressive as well, looking at all the technology in play at the warehouse.

Then it was time to say goodbye and start the trek back home.

As I look back on the last few days, I realize that this trip was more than getting to see new products, or meeting with Horizon reps, or even getting educated on how to better sell Horizon products. Rather, this trip was about re-discovery. The most important takeaway for me was the realization that I had started to loose hope for the hobby world - and that hope yet remains.

Allow me to clarify what I mean: It is easy to get lost in the day-to-day trenches of retail. It's easy to allow a negative interaction with a customer, or a disappointing fiscal quarter, or any other such setback to color your outlook on the business as a whole. Since we moved back in 2011, I have personally felt a bit lost at work. It was so easy to focus on the negative things (sales were down, too many returns, new employees need training, losing employees, etc) and forget that there is a bigger picture in play; that the individual trees indeed make a forest.

I forgot that my job isn't about selling things. Instead, my job is laid out best by repeating Horizon's mission statement: My role is to help people have fun with hobbies. It's not to sell them something over their head, or make the most amount of money I can in a single sale. It’s not to agonize over exactly how I think everything should work. It’s to prevent the negative from getting in the way of the positive. And when I remembered this deceptively simple fact, my passion for this industry realigned itself instantly.

The best part of this trip was seeing that I wasn’t the only one out there - meeting other dealers helped me understand that we’re all in this together - manufacturer, retailer, and consumer. None of us can do this without the others. It’s not “us vs. them”; if we have that approach, none of us will survive.

I have learned things on this trip that will help us transform our store into an even better place to experience the hobby industry. I don’t yet know what that means, exactly. But the effects of this past week will be felt in our store for years to come. And it will all be for the better.

If you have any questions or comments about my trip or this series of blog posts, please ask. I’m excited to talk about the experience of Horizon’s dealer Academy - to share that experience with all of you.

See you in the store!

PS: Below are my best photos from the trip, along with a bunch of video I took at the event. Finally!