Most of us chose the outdoor retail industry as a result of a simple feeling: passion. Passion for the outdoors, for staying active, and for sharing that enthusiasm with others. Such was the case for Jason Cote of Trailblazer.
Jason applied for a part–time seasonal position with a local retailer following a feat many of us outdoor enthusiasts would love to conquer: hiking the Appalachian trail. The move wasn’t meant to be a permanent one—but that signature passion proved stronger than will for Jason. “I took a part time seasonal holiday job at my local outfitter after I hiked the Appalachian Trail, to tide me over until I could get back into my “career” field (working as a lab tech killing cockroaches with mold). After the holiday season, I applied for a permanent position with the company I was working for and have not looked back since.”
The passion for outdoor retail that drove Jason to alter his career path years ago continues today. “I love the product, possibly too much depending on who you ask,” Jason says. But it’s not just the product that gets Jason excited; it’s the entire retail experience through which he gets to share his enthusiasm with his customers: “What really get me excited is introducing people to new experiences—whether it is going on their first trip above treeline in N..H or eating a freeze–dried meal and realizing it isn’t as bad as it seems or just telling them about a local outdoor treasure they didn’t know about. The community that develops when you get a group of people passionate about playing outside is inspiring.”
Jason shares his zeal for the outdoors, not just with his customers, but with his employees, as well. Which is why attending Mann U was such an incredible opportunity for this manager; thanks to his training with the Mann Group, Jason now feels more confident than ever in training his team and helping transmit his passion and enthusiasm effectively.
When he signed up for Mann U, Jason knew it would be a great opportunity because he was already familiar with The Mann Group, since they had done some training at his store in the past. Jason assumed he would be familiar with some of the material and ideas in Mann U, but he didn’t realize just how useful the program would be until he attended. “When I went to Asheville for the Train the Trainer training, I was pleased that even thought the material wasn’t new, it was presented at an elevated level that I found pleasantly challenging.” Jason, like many attendees of Mann U, recognized the practice he received throughout the practice was invaluable. “Practicing GEAR with The Mann Group team was great since they all brought different perspectives on the material. The intensive practice sessions really drove the material home. I left excited to bring back the information home.”
And that’s just what he did; though he was a trainer prior to Mann U, Jason felt inspired to help his management teams with training their staff as effectively as possible. He took back the lessons learned in Mann U—especially that practice with GEAR—and bestowed his new knowledge on his management team, who in turn passed it down to their team members. And today, those effects are obvious throughout all tiers of his staff. “We are seeing a greater depth of training from my managers and a higher level of accountability for the staff. The staff are feeling more invested in the company and thus striving to accomplish more engagement with their customers.”
The best part of Mann U for Jason? Refining his communication skills. Like many who attend Mann U, Jason assumed he was a great communicator and was comfortable speaking in front of groups, but during his time with The Mann Group Jason discovered paths to improvement. “I would say that the most impactful part of the course is the focus on how to present yourself to those you are training. I thought I was comfortable speaking in front of a group and what I found out was I needed some work. It was great to have a group of people just give straightforward feedback with the intent on making me better.” Mann U’s focus on communication is an integral part of the program, and benefits even the most confident and and experienced trainers.
Jason’s passion for the industry hasn’t changed, but the way he communicates that passion certainly has. Thanks to Mann U, Jason is more comfortable and confident in his role as a trainer, and that passion—the feeling that’s been there all along—is more apparent than ever.
Get to Know Jason Cote of Trailblazer!
When I’m on vacation, all I want to do is stay on vacation.
My favorite Retail Sales moment is when the customer comes back into the store to tell me about their adventures.
If I’m camping, solitude is my favorite companion and whiskey is the one thing I can’t go without.
When I think of specialty retail, I think of community.
My favorite long hike is The Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier. The climate changes from temperate rain forest to alpine zone and even some glacier contact, all while having the magnificent mountain at your side, it’s awesome.
When interacting with a customer, I think the look of acceptance on the customer’s face when they try on the right product and know they are going home with a new friend is the best “aha” moment.
Of all my accomplishments in retail, I’m most proud of the friends I’ve made.
When I’m outside, you’ll most likely find me on the hiking trail or paddling, if you can find me.
My favorite item I sell is footwear; it is great when you can get someone educated and fitted in the right pair of shoes.
A great night in always includes my wife and my dog.