Carlene Wilson Joins Atmosphere as Sales & Marketing EVP

These are busy days for Carlene Wilson.

After 18 years as Vice President of Sales and Marketing at bkm Total Office of Texas, the former Workplace Furnishings board member and 2013 recipient of the Nathan M. Loth Award (WPF’s highest honor) has joined Minneapolis-based Atmosphere Commercial Interiors as Executive Vice President, National Sales and Marketing.

Atmosphere was previously part of retail giant Target Corp. and operated under the Target Commercial Interiors name. The dealership was acquired last year by the owners of local installation company Omni Workspace and renamed at that time.

Since then, reports Atmosphere CEO Mike Litwin, the dealership has executed an aggressive growth surge, posting a 20 percent increase in revenue in its first year as a standalone company.

Atmosphere’s appetite for sales growth was one of the key reasons why she made the 1,000-mile trip north from Dallas to join her new dealership, says Wilson. “Atmosphere today is one of the top five Steelcase dealerships in North America but they’ve made it very clear their goal is to become the leading sales and marketing organization in the Steelcase dealer network,” she says.

“The entire team at Atmosphere has done a remarkable job in their first year but they’re looking to do a whole lot more—both organically and through acquisition—and I found their overall vision for growth and for where they want to be several years from now very enticing.”

Atmosphere currently operates in four states—Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Arizona—and in her new position, which was created specifically for her, Wilson will have responsibility for all sales and marketing functions companywide, including design, project management and employee development.

That last element—employee development—is one that she’s particularly excited about. “My proudest achievement during the time I was at bkm was the people I hired and developed,” she says. “Talent development is my passion and the team we put together was a group of high-performing, strategic sales professionals who were able to function in a very collaborative way to create memorable customer experiences and consistently deliver superior value.”

For Wilson, the ability to do all that is not just about creating growth. It’s mission-critical, she contends, to developing a dealer model that is both profitable and sustainable for the long term.

“Relationship selling is not nearly as relevant as it used to be,” Wilson maintains. “Increasingly today, our role as sales professionals is to find new ways to interrupt customers’ thinking and constantly be bringing them new value.”

In a market where competition is fierce and where customers are more educated and demanding than ever, that’s no easy task and it’s one, she points out, that makes the resources Workplace Furnishings brings to the table particularly valuable today.

“The range of products and solutions that WPF offers can make an important contribution to any dealer’s profitability,” she says. “The dealer’s ability to offer blended solutions is critical to meeting customer needs effectively and profitably and WPF provides outstanding support to help us do just that.”

Wilson also gives WPF kudos for the organization’s training programs. “Access to affordable, dealer-specific training in areas such as sales management, new business development and solutions selling is equally critical and the WPF Learning Academy provides all that and more,” she points out.

“Continuous improvement is essential for the entire organization—from seasoned veterans to the most recent new hire—and there isn’t a dealer out there who would not benefit from WPF resources to help make that happen,” she adds.

As Wilson looks to the future at Atmosphere, she sees a broad range of outstanding new opportunities.

“Atmosphere today is already strong in the large corporate market and in the healthcare and education verticals and each of those areas offer plenty of new growth potential in all three of the geographical regions we serve,” she says.

“I’m tremendously excited by the opportunity to leverage the skills and experience I’ve acquired over the past 25-plus years to take an organization that is already very strong and help move it to the next level,” she says.

“Nobody should underestimate the challenges of doing business in the office furniture industry today but with partners like Steelcase and Workplace Furnishings and a culture that is focused on growth and delivering superior customer experiences, we are very well positioned to take those challenges and convert them into a wealth of new opportunities and profits.”

 

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