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Kent Doobrow Q&A: Merrell’s rep of the year gives back within and outside the industry

Kent Doobrow of Greensboro, N.C. has a fab track record in the outdoor industry, and recently was named Merrell’s rep of the year. But he’s just about as well known for jamming across the country as a member of the band Midnight Sun, his service to the community and his infectious enthusiasm.


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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2012 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Aug. 2-5. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

This SNEWS Outdoor Retailer Summer Market recap is brought to you by Cordura:



Kent Doobrow of Greensboro, N.C. has a fab track record in the outdoor industry, and recently was named Merrell’s rep of the year.

But he’s just about as well known for jamming across the country as a member of the band Midnight Sun, his service to the community and his infectious enthusiasm.

Doobrow brings tips for Outdoor Retailer newbies and lets us in on the secret of his success.

A number of brands have named you rep of the year, most recently Merrell. What’s your secret?

First of all, I truly love my job! I treat folks with respect. I have serviced the same territory since 1985. I feel as an independent representative or, as I like to call it, “service rep,” it is most important to bring value to your retail partners and the manufacturers you service. The more you are prepared, the better level of service you will be able to provide. I never want to feel like I’m wasting anyone’s time. I have also taken an “old school” approach to my position — I actually walk in the door of my retailer and choose to work with them at their store whenever possible. There are so many benefits to providing that level of service. I am fortunate to have a very focused territory, which allows me to provide a higher level of service. The advances in technology have provided many modes to increase the level of communication, but the No. 1 mode to me is still face-to-face. I love what I do, and solving challenges is my strength.

Any tips for a rep for who’s in the midst of his or her first Outdoor Retailer show at this year’s Summer Market?

Major trade shows can be overwhelming, even if you have attended them for years. Outdoor Retailer provides so much information leading up to the show that it makes it easy to plan things around your key territorial appointments. Use the tools provided and the resources available to you to find a relevant seminar/workshop to increase your knowledge in emerging trends. Make new friends in the industry you live and breathe. I have life brothers and sisters through my experiences at Outdoor Retailer. I always think it’s important to make time and have fun as well. We happen to have landed in a profession that encourages all of us to have fun!

Any particular trends you’re noticing in your territory?

I am noticing many trends in my territory. Everything from the emergence of excitement through colors to new ways of approaching activities we have been involved in all of our lives. The world around us is in constant change, and at some point this affects everyone’s little worlds. One very encouraging recent trend I have noticed is the desire to give back to our local communities and try to impact others through our own actions. I think our industry continues to be a leader in awareness.

You do a lot of work in your community, as do so many in the outdoor industry. What kinds of service projects have you found most rewarding?

The level of homelessness and hunger that exists in our communities blows me away. We still have a lot of work to do to impact positive change in this space. I feel I have been able to take the average retail promotional event in my area and try to modify it to include some sort of “give back.” Positive actions by retailers and manufacturers come back in so many ways to our communities. I have maintained that if I can impact just one other individual to give back somehow, they will do the same, and the ripple effect could result in a tidal wave. We have so many young, energetic and creative minds in our industry; we can and will make a positive difference for the children of our children’s kids.



What’s your favorite thing about working in this business?


Getting out — not being confined to any particular space. Being in control of my own destiny to some degree. But I most love the people I work with every day. The personal relationships I have built through doing what I love transcend everything else. Those who know me know I am a very positive person and my work plays a key role in my happiness — it’s really going to suck when I have to settle down and get a job!

–Megan Mulligan