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Tribute Spotlight: Bill Horrigan

I started working at Tribute back in 1987 when I was still in my 20s. To say a lot has changed since then would be an understatement. 37 years and nearly 30,000 flights later, I can confidently say that my life has changed completely thanks to the incredible friends and partnerships I’ve made so far. Looking back, I can’t help but feel blessed for having had such an incredible career. 


Building Relationships Across Generations

I graduated with my computer science degree from Cleveland State University back in 1986, hoping to become a computer programmer. After graduation, I pursued an opportunity to work for a manufacturing software company as a software developer. 

After getting adjusted to my role, I realized I wasn’t as passionate about the computer programming side of data processing as I originally thought. My ideal role would be more people oriented, giving me the chance to interact and collaborate with others more often. Luckily, I was able to transition internally to a sales role where I was able to thrive.  

I quickly realized that this was not the company for me long term, but it was an eye-opening experience that helped me grow up fast. When it was time for me to move on, I found a position as a sales consultant with the B. W. Rogers Company which was a local hose and fluid power organization. 37 years later, visiting over 2,300 distributors, and over 800 successful software sales, the rest is history. 

The B. W. Rogers Company internally designed their own ERP business software because they felt there wasn’t a better solution on the market for their specific needs. After using it internally for four years, they realized they had something special. They decided to market and sell it to other fluid power and hose distributors across North America. To help sell the product, they put an ad in the local newspaper for a sales position for which I applied. 

After accepting the position, I spent the first four months working in each department to get a better understanding of the day-to-day operations of a fluid power and hose distributor. My hope was to be able to effectively communicate with decision-makers throughout North America in this industry.  

The first year at the company, I was able to sell significantly more than they had expected or predicted, which became a good problem to have. This “problem” grew considerably, and they were not prepared for the success we were able to endure for the next 8 years. It was at this point they realized we needed to hire another salesperson.  

A lot has changed since the early days of my career. I remember watching the first generation of Tribute’s ERP system launch and how much of an impact it had on the industry. The software was coded before the existence of modern programming languages, and the system was considered state-of-the-art technology at the time. While Tribute’s ERP system and the world of technology have evolved a lot since then, the basic concept that I found so special decades ago is nearly unchanged. 

The other thing that never changed throughout my career was my passion for people. I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet and work with such incredible individuals throughout my entire time at Tribute. I love knowing that some of the family businesses I’ve sold to early on in my career are still close friends and client’s generations later. I’ve been lucky enough to get the chance to become a part of these families – joining them for meals and even camping trips. I am truly grateful for the countless friendships that I’ve made over the years that go well beyond the job. This is what drives me in my day to day. 

Interested in learning more about Tribute? Check out this video featuring Bill as he talks about Modern ERP solutions for the distribution industry. 

Unforgettable Moment: A Sale Worth Fighting For

I like to think I’ve seen nearly everything you can think of within the industry. From cowboy apparel shopping trips to impress a client to weekend camping trips in the middle of nowhere, I have a trove of experiences that still make me laugh to this day. One experience that stands out among the rest is the time I had to wrestle a potential client to make a sale.  

I was still early in my career, around 27 years old, in Michigan at a sales meeting. I walked in and started making small talk with the owner when he asked if I worked out because I apparently looked in shape. I mentioned how I used to wrestle in high school and a brief time in college and found out that he wrestled too.  

He stopped the small talk immediately and mentioned how he heard about our product and was really impressed with it. He was so impressed that he made me an offer – if I was able to beat him at wrestling, he would sign a contract and give me a deposit check for our ERP system that day. I was surprised and laughed at the offer – assuming he was joking. He made it clear that he was serious and was ready to spar right then and there.  

To prove his commitment, he stood up from his desk and charged at me. I was absolutely shocked as I watched this 45-year-old owner of a reputable business slam me against the wall. He started to push me too far for my comfort, so my natural instincts kicked in and I jumped into action. I was able to swiftly grapple him, pinning him on the floor until he tapped out. Once he stood up, he called his secretary and asked them to make out a check for the software. The best part? They remained a valued customer for over a decade. 

A Bright Future Ahead

It’s the unforgettable moments and incredible individuals I work with that keep me excited to go to work every day. I’m surrounded by good people who work hard and make great company both in and outside of the office. I may not be ready for retirement just yet, but I’m confident that the future at Tribute is bright. 

While the client meetings may not look the same as they did when I was in my 20s, the younger generation continues to impress me with their ingenuity and new ideas. They still have a fair amount to learn when it comes to planning for future success, but they are sure to take the torch and run with it. 

Not everyone can be so blessed to have had a career like mine. For that, I will forever be grateful. 

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