Railing expert Brandon Schmahl has worked at AGS Stainless for over 12 years. During that time, he has developed a career and an in-depth knowledge of the industry that uniquely qualifies him to provide specialized technical support to the AGS team. Initially, working in the shop, Brandon gained invaluable knowledge about the railing manufacturing process. Then moving to sales, he honed his ability to help customers, listen to their problems and resolve issues. Brandon talks about his experience working for AGS and his role as the sales manager of a team committed to providing customers with 5-star award-winning service.
An interview with Brandon Schmahl
What does your job as the Sales Manager at AGS Stainless entail?
“I work with the salespeople to strategize their processes to make sure they are successful, to ensure that we offer the customers the best product and service possible. In addition to getting enough sales to keep AGS operational. I keep the team rolling by ensuring that they’ve got all the tools and resources they need to do their jobs to the best of our ability.”
AGS Stainless only manufactures railing systems. With a tight-knit team of highly qualified professionals, we have the collective experience to offer expert help and develop unique railing solutions.
“I’ve worked at AGS for a long time, and there’s nobody here that wants to see a railing project fail. We’re all working together to try to make every project a success. The customers are not just in it by themselves. We’re not just going to say, here’s a pile of parts that can become a railing, good luck with it. We designed the railing system entirely to their specific project, and we’re not going to leave them high and dry on something.”
The AGS team is renowned for providing top-notch customer service. How do you help the team support the customers throughout the process?
“Depending on where a customer is in their process, they might have different problems to overcome. It’s my job to be resourceful and creative to find practical solutions to make sure that we make the experience as hassle-free as possible for the customers.
First, we design the railing system and provide the customer with an estimate. When we start designing a custom railing system, we have to work out all the technical details. If a custom component is necessary, I’ll get pricing worked out and do the groundwork to figure out the best solution for that particular railing installation.
Once manufactured, the railing system gets shipped to the job site. Sometimes a customer will call after they have received and unboxed the product. They’ve read the instructions, and before beginning the installation, they want to ask a couple of basic questions to make sure they’re on the right track. Many of our customers are homeowners, and they’re installing the railing system at the weekend. I’ll offer them my cell phone number so that they can reach out if they need to. Often it’s just a case of providing reassurance, so they feel comfortable to proceed.
Many homeowners choose to install the railing systems themselves.
The railing systems are installed by homeowners or building industry professionals. Sometimes the customer might call and say something like the stair railing doesn’t fit correctly. Many of the parts look similar, but they all have a specific location. There are small inscriptions on each of the railing components which correspond with numbers on the drawings, but people can lose track. First, I’ll look into their project details and make sure that they have all the posts in the correct locations. Then we can figure out what it is that’s causing the problem. At the time, the person in the field may feel frustrated, so being compassionate to them and their situation is another way to help them work through the situation.
When the project is close to completion, different issues may arise. It’s extremely rare, but if there’s ever an issue where a railing part got damaged in shipping or the dimension given was wrong. I’m the person here who gets the part remade or whatever needs to happen so that the customer can finish their installation. We are part of the process until the customer is entirely happy and the job is complete.”
Brandon is a railing industry expert. When he first joined AGS, he began working in the shop and developed a thorough understanding of the railing products and manufacturing processes. Later, he moved to the sales team, where he became highly skilled at helping customers. He’s now the sales manager where his accrued knowledge and problem-solving skills can benefit staff and customers alike.
How did you become a railing industry expert?
“Before working with AGS, I worked in construction with my dad. We built houses, so I know about working with tools. I’m a pretty handy guy. When I started working in the shop, I got a lot of experience using the machinery, tools, and equipment. My responsibilities included keeping track of the inventory in the shop so all the nuts and bolts that would go with a railing system. That helped me learn every single part that AGS uses down to the very smallest screw. Having that depth of knowledge is helpful, especially when I’m trying to resolve a unique railing problem.
I’m an easygoing person, and I enjoy helping people. Therefore I was a good fit for the sales team, so I started working with them. I think it’s important to be patient and compassionate to help people through the installation and prevent them from getting overwhelmed. It’s an easy way to make someone’s day better. One thing led to another, and eventually, I became the sales manager.”
Have you installed many railing systems?
“I’ve installed about ten railing systems. I’m in some of the AGS how-to videos. I’ve also helped my parents and some of my friends with their installs. It’s an easy enough system. We manufacture maybe 1000 projects a year at AGS. You don’t need to install 100s of them to become an expert at it. Once you’ve done your first install, you’ll have a pretty good understanding of how it works.”
Brandon and Sue Ellen, an AGS Designer, worked together to install an AGS railing system.
- Watch AGS installation videos
- Visit Sue Ellen’s Meet Your Team page
- AGS Is a Four-Time Winner of the Best of Houzz Service Award!
Do you have a favorite custom railing project?
“We had a customer who loves hummingbirds, and he said it would be wonderful if you guys could make a rod that sticks out of the railing so that we could mount hummingbird feeders on it. We figured it out. We made a simple bracket that looks nice and clean, and they were able to mount hummingbird feeders all over their railing system. The project was a lot of fun, and the customers were delighted, so that was great.”
Rainier cable railing is bird-friendly.
What do you like most about working for AGS?
“People, customers, employees. If the job were selling railing parts, it wouldn’t be for me. Even when the customer is frustrated and experiencing a challenging situation, I like working with them to determine the cause of the problem. I’m just happy to help them get to a point where they understand that we’re here to help them out. It feels good to help them resolve their problems.”
Talking with Brandon, it’s easy to see the secret of his success. He’s a people person who enjoys helping others and does so with kindness. He’s excelled in his career at AGS because he fosters patience, compassion, and empathy which are essential to providing first-rate customer service. Having a breadth of experience enables him to understand problems and provide the advice and support necessary to ensure the success of his team and AGS customers.