Best known for being a staunch friend and ally to tanning salon owners, Jerry Deveney is a new member of the Four Seasons Sales & Service team. As such, he continues earning the sincere thanks and praise from many in the sun business!
Born in 1957 in Jersey City, NJ, Jerry Deveney is the second oldest of Jerry and Dorothy Deveney’s five children. As his father’s namesake, Jerry acknowledges that he inherited his dad’s sense of humor. His tireless work ethic, however, is something he attributes to both of his parents, whom he describes as always finding a way to make it through the tough times. What he learned from these experiences, he says, is the importance of focusing on the work, not the reward; he credits this outlook with helping him find fulfillment, both personal and professional. These traits served as Jerry’s guide throughout the years as he joined the elite group of people who are known as the pioneers of the American indoor tanning industry. Having started out in the business during its formative years, Jerry continues to play a leading role in its developing future.
A “help wanted” advertisement from a company seeking a “tradeshow coordinator” was Jerry’s entry into the indoor tanning industry. The year was 1984, and he was looking for a change from his job with a national advertising agency based in New York … little did he know this decision would change his professional and personal life forever! Jerry was soon working for an indoor tanning equipment distributor – one of the first of its kind in the U.S. Just when he started to love the fun yet fast-paced nature of the sun biz, it all came to a crashing halt one fateful day in December. Recalling that day, Jerry said, “I returned from an extended road trip with a pocket full of new equipment orders and an envelope stuffed with expense account receipts. When I walked through the door, the secretaries were sitting at their desks, crying; it was a week before the holidays, which is the worst time for anyone to find themselves unemployed.” The company was going under.
Jerry found himself smack dab in the middle of a bad situation – one from which he could’ve simply walked away – but helping others in their time of need proved more important than his own self interests. He decided he would lead his team in picking up the pieces of the shattered company in hopes of making everyone’s holiday season merry. He recalled those trying times saying, “I gathered staff together and said, ‘Look, we know how to do this.’ We all pitched in to sell whatever tanning equipment we could get our hands on and we had gross sales of a quarter million dollars in the first month! Everyone was very excited about their future from that day forward.” Jerry’s New Jersey-based distribution company continued to grow and flourish over the years, becoming one of tanning’s top companies at that time.
Wishing to try his hand in another industry sector, Jerry sold his interests in the distribution company in 1990 and took a position as marketing director for one of the few American companies building sunbeds at that time. Though this was a change, the Jerry that salon owners knew didn’t disappear; he remained focused upon helping sun biz entrepreneurs be successful. Those where heady days indeed, and he never lost sight of what he enjoyed most, saying, “Working in the manufacturing sector allowed me to continue to help our salon clients. We were not just selling tanning systems, sunlamps and software, we were selling a business opportunity. As part of that opportunity, we showed our clients that success can be achieved through having an in-depth understanding of the key factors of this business: equipment, location, overhead, personnel, marketing and sales strategy.”
By accepting a position with Four Seasons Sales & Service on September 15, 2013, Jerry returned to the industry sector in which he got his start. While Jerry’s title is vice president of business development, he considers himself part of the Four Seasons team, one made up of many members who are dedicated to helping tanning salon owners continue to be successful. Starting at the top with Ed Jerger, the enigmatic executive chairman, and filtering throughout the entire company, everyone at the Paris, TN-based distribution company pulls together for the good of the salon client. Jerry speaks highly of his new company in saying, “Four Seasons is remarkable in that every department interacts with the others. If someone in sales is speaking with a client who mentions that one of her tanning units are down, that rep will put the client in touch with one of Four Seasons’ seven in-house service people who will be more than happy to talk them through the necessary repairs. This kind of thing happens every day!”
From his first day as a tanning industry professional nearly 30 years ago, Jerry has prided himself on helping salon owners to be more effective businesspeople. At Four Seasons, this remains his prime directive. “On any given day,” he said, “I’m working with everyone from owners of small, mom-and-pop tanning salons to the heads of some of the industry’s biggest chains and franchises. We offer a variety of strategies designed to help all salon owners become more successful in their respective markets, including business analysis, marketing strategies and increasing revenue.” Jerry added that he loves working with owners on a one-on-one basis in order to help them find and utilize the tools they need to increase their sales.
Finding the products and services that will help boost revenue is an important aspect of Jerry’s position with Four Seasons. “We’re constantly looking for ways to help salon owners be more profitable,” he explained. “One of the best ways is to add non-tanning products and services that complement tanning, allowing owners to increase their profits by offering these services to existing clients and attracting new ones.” In a statement that echoes his experience as the consummate salesman, Jerry uses the gas station analogy. “Years ago – a gas station was a place that just sold gas and oil – today they are grocery stores with a few gas pumps out front.” Likewise, he believes that every tanning salon is a “spa waiting to happen,” and savvy owners should take every opportunity to add to more products and services to their menus such as skin care, weight loss, etc. “Four Seasons is able to purchase these products and services at affordable rates,” he added, “so we’re happy to pass those savings on to our customers.”
Looking ahead, Jerry feels very positive about the future of indoor tanning in America. And why shouldn’t he? During his three decades in the industry, he’s seen it survive three stock market crashes and many other economic challenges. While indoor tanning continues to face Federal regulation issues, Jerry says he continues to remain optimistic and salon owners should, too. “Success in this business is achieved through a balanced emphasis on key factors including equipment, location, overhead, personnel, marketing, sales strategies and an in-depth understanding of this business,” he explained. “Along with everyone at Four Seasons, I will continue to do everything I can to help salon owners enjoy success!”
In his personal life, Jerry continues to be a guy on the go, though things on the home front have slowed down a little bit. These days, he and his wife, Vanessa, find themselves with a lot more time on their hands. Speaking of his family life, Jerry said, “Our daughter Candyce (26) works as a billing specialist in the medical field and she also dabbles in art. Devlin (19) is a freshman at Arkansas State University where she is majoring in music with concentration on French Horn.” With the girls pretty much on their own, Jerry says that Vanessa has started substitute teaching, which she does in addition to her very active involvement with fundraising for the local schools. “One way or another,” he added, “we’ll find ways to keep ourselves busy.”
A 14-year industry veteran, John "Ribby" Ribner has written hundreds of
articles for IST Magazine and, as Director of Editorial Content, has also
helped guide the publication's evolution. Ribby is a graduate of Central
Michigan University's journalism program and has brought many years of newspaper reporting experience to his position of Head Writer. He is also the author of three novels, "Legacy of the Bear," "Prophecy of the Bear" and "World So Dark."
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