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Thomas Russell

Tropitone University expands

Tropitone Furniture is expanding Tropitone University, a program started three years ago to provide dealers with learning tools for sales associates who sell Tropitone's casual furniture, Basta Sole umbrellas and shade solutions.

Tropitone CEO Michael Echolds said major program elements available to dealers include a sales training manual, selling fundamentals video, product knowledge video and Tropitone Sales Builder newsletter.

This year Tropitone University is taking the training presentation led by Greg Welsh to 30 cities, according to Echolds.

"In today's evolving competitive marketplace, every professional needs and benefits from ongoing training," Welsh said. "Tropitone University is about offering such training to the sales associates at Tropitone dealers so they are as well-informed and savvy as today's sophisticated consumers."

Echolds said the overall focus of Tropitone University is on today's customers, what they think and what they want. Since it is not primarily product-centered, the individuals who participate are better at selling everything, including the outdoor lifestyle.

A key challenge for sales professionals today is the "discount mentality" created in part by the Wal-Mart experience, Welch said.

Often customers go to retailers looking for the lowest price rather than the best overall value.

"Knowledgeable sales associates can remind shoppers value is not just about price, but a combination of great product, quality and service, which all add up to the best overall value," Welsh said.

Tropitone also has expanded its Millennia line to include a sling seating option and add another molded strap design, called Waves, for its EZ Span seating system.

Waves' 4-inch molded straps, made from a proprietary compound rather than vinyl, were developed to resist dramatic swings in temperatures, said Peter Homestead, Tropitone vice president of design.

In 1997, Tropitone won a patent for its replacement system of EZ Span segments, called Ribbons. Those are in use at many prestigious resorts, including Bellagio in Las Vegas, Atlantis at Paradise Islands, Bahamas, Breakers in Palm Beach and numerous Hyatt Regency properties.

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