Giovanni Pisi speaks broken English with an engaging Italian accent. Well dressed and confident, he sits, hands folded at a table hoping to find a U.S. distributor in the automotive sector. His 30-minute business-to-business meeting is not a make or break deal for his company, Fenice Care System S.p.A., but it’s important. Like a speed dating event, the 30-minute B2B meeting is an opportunity to determine mutual interest, and you can see in Pisi’s eyes a hope for expansion.
On the other side of the table is Guy Bargnes, vice president of sales and marketing for Painters Supply & Equipment. Headquartered in Taylor, Mich., his company services the states of Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.
Bargnes stares, listening intently as Pisi pitches the leather repair kit manufactured at his family’s business near Venice. He uses a standard pitch about “high quality” shared by most suppliers. He notes that his company already has plans to open offices this summer in North Carolina, to support products they sell to furniture builders. He adds that Fenice already supplies tanneries that support the automotive OEMs in Europe.
That’s all fairly standard and run-of-the-mill. Then he hits a nerve.
“We have just made a whole new set of videos with a very detailed procedure on how to use the product,” Pisi says. “The main thing is to provide some training, because people are a bit scared about leather.” Collision repair shops that follow the training can become “authorized repair centers,” which opens up new sales opportunities for them.
The words cause Bargnes to shift in his chair as he realizes he may have something here.
“What interests me is bringing in new revenue opportunities for the body shops,” he says. “That’s a big value to the customer.”