Q&A with Leslie Peterson from Boss Gloves

NetPlus Alliance recognized Leslie Peterson, Vice President of Industrial Sales for Boss Gloves, with the Dan Judge Founder’s Award for her commitment to NetPlus and the industry at the 2019 Annual Meeting.

“She is always smiling, because she is doing what she loves, serving her distributors and her customers,” said Jennifer Murphy, president. Boss offers gloves, boots, rainwear and safety vests through independent distributors. Peterson has been in industrial sales for 33 years, 30 of which have been spent with Boss.

NetPlus: Over 30-plus years, you’ve seen a lot of change in the industry.

Leslie Peterson: Yes. There has been a lot of change. You know, I think the biggest change, especially in the past 10 years, has been the consolidation and/or buyouts of companies. The industry itself is, in certain pockets, becoming a monopoly. I think now more than ever the independent distributor is so important.

NetPlus: What are you seeing some of the more successful independent distributors doing differently?

Peterson: I think the independent distributors that really grow, and not just in my category but in other categories, are willing to expand with sales staff and into different products.

The ones that have really expanded and decided, you know what, we’re not going to put ourselves in a box, and we’re going to be whatever we need to be for our customer to keep the competition out – those are the ones you can see shine. And they are actually putting resources behind that decision so they’re not just adding product lines and hoping they sell.

NetPlus: How has this group contributed to that?

Peterson: I think that NetPlus brings some really good product categories and support for those categories to the table for the distributors. Because a lot of these guys and gals, their expertise is in engineering. They’re working with tooling and so they might not be that expert for these other categories. But I think with the support that the suppliers give through NetPlus, that’s really enhanced a lot of the growth within the group.

NetPlus: How important is the independent distributor to your business?

Peterson: The lifeblood of the Boss Corporation is independent distributors. So we take it very seriously when we’re saying that we are becoming partners.

NetPlus: Over your time in the industry, you’ve probably seen an increase in the number of women taking leadership roles. What’s your perspective on the shift, as well as how we can recruit more women to fill important roles?

Peterson: I think that the biggest thing is for us to really start reaching out to women probably at the college level. I think back to when I was in school, and we never had anything available to learn about the different careers out there.

Nobody ever said I want to be in industrial sales. But I think that the more that we expose it, the better. I have two grandsons that are actually going to an alternative academy high school and the goal is that before they leave, they’re either going to be in a trade or a college, one or the other. Understanding that not everybody’s cut out for college, but what they do is they’ll bring and expose them to everything. Anything from being a fireman to being a radiologist to, you know, sales.

I think that that’s how we’re going to grow women in the business, just continually exposing them to these different options that they have. I think that women can be very successful.

NetPlus: What’s your advice to other suppliers and distributor members to get the most out of NetPlus and to grow as a group?

Peterson: We need to continually challenge ourselves to make sure that we’re exploring all of the options that we can to grow the business. Many are reacting to business; they’re not proactive. But then there’s some that get it, you know, and they’re doing millions of dollars in business. I just think that in this industry, because of all of the monopolies that are being created, we need to make sure that we’re expanding each and every day.