Did father's hiring of son boost sales?

Just shy of a year ago, I chronicled Michael Wajer's arrival at Business Engineering.

Hired in August 2015 by his father, Ron Wajer, managing partner at Business Engineering, Northbrook, to bump sales, Michael came with a solid background in retail selling. But, Ron said when I wrote about the Wajers last December, "Mike was a retail guy. Business-to-business selling isn't sitting in a store waiting for someone to walk in."

Business Engineering is a process improvement consulting firm that specializes in the manufacturing and distribution sectors. It's a small company with a core of 10 consultants, independent contractors Wajer (the Dad) calls upon when their skills fit.

Because bringing a child into an existing business can be more troublesome than beneficial, it's time to check on the Wajers.

There were three questions to be answered: Would Michael be effective in a new sales role? How would he mesh with the incumbent sales development director? Would father and son get along?

The answers are mostly positive.

• Michael has turned out to have effective and, importantly, transferable sales skills.

"He brings a whole new dimension" to Business Engineering and its sales efforts, the senior Wajer says. "Michael understands welding, painting and similar processes. He speaks that language. He asks questions we never would think to ask.

"He really opens the eyes of the guys who are giving us the plant tour."

Michael's initial assignment was to develop a telemarketing program that would supplement the 300 or so calls Ron has long made to contacts on an every-four-month schedule.

The telemarketing didn't work. An outside firm was hired, but, although neither Wajer blames the company, no jobs resulted from the campaign.

"The (outside) telemarketing has stopped," Michael says. "We're doing it on our own now."

Given Ron's affinity for, and success with, regular calls to his list of friends, prospects and referral sources, at least that form of telemarketing likely will continue.

• The relationship between Michael and the incumbent sales director seems to be satisfactory. Michael is about to increase his networking role, which largely has been the realm of the existing sales officer, but potential issues were spotted and worked out a year ago.

"We work in different realms," Michael says.

• Father and son get along. "Bringing Michael in was a good idea," Ron says. "We've gotten to know each other a little better, and the experience has brought us closer."

"I'm still in the learning process," Michael adds, "but we work well together. We have the same mindset."

That mindset may be evolving, however. "I may be holding too much to myself," Ron Wajer says. "It's absolutely a learning process, and I may have to learn to let go a little."

Sales haven't yet taken off, but the marketplace seems ready. "There's quite a bit of activity," Ron notes, though he also says, "It's hard getting decisions made, getting prospects to say, 'Let's have that last meeting.'"

• © 2016 Kendall Communications Inc. Follow Jim Kendall on LinkedIn and Twitter. Write him at Listen to Jim's Business Owners' Pod Talk at

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.