If you think your business is immune to seasonal weather, you may want to take a closer look at your company's sales history. On the surface, Multiplex, a St. Louis-based manufacturer of automatic beverage-dispensing equipment, is a seasonless supplier, selling restaurant equipment to chains including McDonald's and TGI Friday's. After all, since people eat and drink every day, conventional wisdom says that its business isn't weather-related--but it is.

"We like the summer," says chairman J.W. Kisling. "Equipment starts failing when the weather gets hot. People are thirsty, so they are drinking a lot." And if a restaurant has to turn away thirsty customers because a machine is on the fritz, it's a solid prospect for Multiplex, which provides customers with 24-hour repair service.

Since the company prides itself on providing better service than its competitors, the season of equipment breakdowns is a perfect time to win new business. "Our sales representatives go back and call on customers who have said they are satisfied with their current vendor, during the hot summer months when they aren't likely to be so happy." Typically it can take years to close a sale, according to Kisling, so they've used every trick in the book to spur growth. Multiplex is now a $34-million company.

Copyright 1998 G+J USA Publishing