Women’s History Month: Interview with Top Uniwasher Saleswoman Vivian Trout
In honor of Women’s History Month, Vivian Trout, the top-producing OPL saleswoman at Florida-based Uniwasher Laundry Professionals, shares her remarkable rise in the industry and career advice for breaking down barriers in the “boys club.”
As the daughter of Cuban immigrants, born and raised in Miami, Florida during the 1960s, Vivian always knew she would make her way. “My parents had a very strong work ethic,” she reflects. “It didn’t matter what the chore was, making your bed, weeding the garden, it was instilled in me early on to always do my best.”
Vivian tested the real estate waters.
Vivian first took a property manager position and then became a licensed Real Estate broker. “I liked being a property manager – the operations, the relationship-building, the negotiating, the thinking on your feet – it suited me,” says Vivian.
When a new opportunity presented itself, Vivian changed her career path. “I became a service dispatcher for Amerivend, one of the largest route operators of coin laundry equipment at the time,” explains Vivian. “The biggest draw was it was just a mile away from my home and I could stay in one place.”
Vivian excelled in her job and was made head dispatcher. A year later, she was promoted to Inventory Control Manager for the Miami branch.
Her skills were recognized – she stood out among the crowd.
Leading a team of warehouse workers, tracking inventory, evaluating suppliers, and creating excellent rapport along the way, Vivian’s role quickly grew to cover the company’s Tampa office as well. “I was able to save Amerivend a lot of money,” she says, “It felt good to be recognized, but more importantly, I really enjoyed the work. I was good at it.”
In 1998, Amerivend was sold to Mac-Gray, a pioneering leader in the Commercial Laundry Systems industry since 1927. Vivian was asked to join the team to manage their inventory as well, and was soon promoted to branch administrator.
Vivian found it to be a challenging and rewarding step in her evolving career.
“I really loved the diversity of responsibilities,” recalls Vivian. “Every day was different. I also liked that it was an important role, central to the growth and viability of the company.”
In 2002, Vivian decided to jump on board with a small laundry service company – Uniwasher, Inc. This career move would eventually lead her into a top-earning sales position.
“Uniwasher had been around since 1998, but it was more of a startup when I joined the company,” says Vivian. “At that time, it was a small office and a warehouse without a computer system.”
Vivian was attracted to the idea of being on the ground floor, helping to establish the infrastructure for growth. What’s more, thanks to the vendor connections she had cultivated over the years in the laundry industry, Vivian was soon opening new accounts.
“Up until that point, we were a sub-distributor through another company, selling Wascomat equipment,” says Vivian. “Acquiring solid distribution routes was huge. That’s when things started taking off for us. Little by little, Uniwasher was growing in sales and services and gaining a presence in the marketplace.”
Uniwasher awarded Electrolux Professional line and grows its operations
In 2011, Uniwasher became a Laundrylux Authorized Distributor of Electrolux Professional Laundry equipment for South Florida – and sales skyrocketed. “Every department grew because of this – accounting, dispatch, service,” shares Vivian. “As our coin and OPL sales increased, so did our staffing and operations.”
Today, Vivian primarily sells to the OPL market. In 2017, she had her best year yet, hitting the $2+million-dollar mark, and earning the status of top salesperson.
“In the last six years, I have sold millions of dollars in machinery. I’ve learned so much over the years, it’s really been incredible. When I started, I didn’t know one damn thing about industrial washers and dryers,” chuckles Vivian.
In addition, Vivian has rented out scores of Wascomat and Electrolux laundry equipment to hotels and nursing homes. “When I began selling, leasing equipment was unheard of in South Florida,” says Vivian. “But I soon realized that many companies didn’t have the budget to purchase. Understanding your customers is at the very heart of every successful salesperson.”
Vivian advises “anyone wanting to join this boys club” to do your homework.
- Know your laundry customers! “The great thing about laundry is that everyone and every service company needs to do wash.”
- Read up on equipment. “Be knowledgeable about equipment options. Strong sales are made by being able to talk about the benefits the equipment brings to your customers. Know your equipment so you can provide the proper solution.
- Go to see the equipment installed. “It’s really amazing to see the installation process. And you get to ask questions and meet with experienced professionals, which in my case are Alejandro Correa and Mariano Miguel, the owners of Uniwasher, Inc. They taught me a lot about the technical aspects of the products.
- Take classes at the service schools. “There’s nothing more valuable than getting hands-on experience.”
Vivian is looking forward to growing her business even further. She continues to play a major role in this “boys club” and is excited about the opportunities ahead. “A woman’s place is anywhere she wants to be,” Vivian sums up quite nicely.