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McIlhon revels in sales with Triplett


John McIlhon fell in love with sales almost by accident. After graduating from Dowling High School, he took some classes at Des Moines Area Community College, then went to work for photographer Mark Jolesch.

“I consider those five years to be my work training. We traveled a lot to photograph events. Then I was ready to not travel so much,” he said. “I was looking for something different.”

His next job was at Victoria Dry Cleaners, where he served as general manager. Triplett Office Essentials, a single-source provider of office products, supplies, furniture, printing and promotional materials, was located next door. He’d known the Triplett family for years and attended school with the Triplett children.

“Working next door to their office, I started hanging out with Tim Triplett again,” McIlhon said. “When I left the cleaners, these guys were the only people I talked to. They had offered me positions in the past, but [before I left Victoria Dry Cleaners] the timing was never right.”

That was eight years ago, and McIlhon found he thrived in sales and in working with customers. He is now a sales team leader.

“I have a list of accounts that I develop and work with, building relationships,” he said. “I work as their direct contact salesperson and I work with other salespeople to set goals.

“The biggest challenge is establishing relationships with other businesses. Our clients have to have confidence that I’m going to be there for some time. Business is relationship based. You have to establish a comfort level.”

It’s establishing those relationships that McIlhon loves most. He grew up in a business-oriented family. His grandfather started Iowa Industrial Products, which provides components such as nuts and bolts to Deere & Co. His father was one of 12 children, and several went into the family business.

“It gave me a feel for what it takes to run a business, and what goes into it,” McIlhon said. “The business was sold three years ago, but a lot of the family still works there.”

McIlhon feels the same loyalty to his job at Triplett. He says the opportunity to work directly with people and the family-business atmosphere suit him better than any other field he can imagine.

“I would like to eventually see myself in some sort of management role,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of years ahead of me to do it. I like to think I’ll be here a long time.”  

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