Chris Armstrong just might be the newest old-schooler in the pleasure industry. He’s well over halfway out of his Millennial years, but understands the kind of values that most businesses are built upon; the kind of values that pay off in spades within the adult B2B market.
Where most buyers and sellers are happy to exchange a few emails and spreadsheets, Armstrong does what most CEOs would have done decades earlier: he picks up the phone, charms his customers into genuine friendships, and shows up to their stores thousands of miles from his home base in Southern California.
My next goal is to keep expanding our brand globally with an exciting work ethic and natural motivation.
“My ability to work in several roles allowed for a better understanding of how this industry works and has allowed me to better serve my client base,” says Armstrong.
Of course, he can still put together a mean spread sheet of the latest realistic dongs, but there’s more to this charismatic salesman than an eye for the best butt plugs.
Like many pleasure industry veterans, Armstrong started in the warehouse of a mid-level sex toy distributor and worked his way into a sales role.
“I fell into this business by default,” recalls Armstrong. “I was asked to help do inventory for two days and it ended up being the beginning of my career.”
Armstrong stuck around for 11 years, learning the ropes of the business (which, during the “Fifty Shades” craze, happened quite literally) and building up his reputation as a friendly, competent face in the sales community.
“I stayed because I fell in love with the products and the people in this industry,” gushes Armstrong.
After his first year, Armstrong was asked to manage the warehouse, and things kept going for him from that point forward.
“After three years, my role evolved into sales, where I became the top sales person for the distributor I worked with,” he recalls.
When Armstrong landed at his current home base with Pipedream Products, it was a perfect fit. Years of hawking endless brands at the distribution level had prepared him for Pipedream’s seemingly infinite SKUs and brand identities.
Focusing in on a single company was almost a challenge in itself after Armstrong had gotten used to the exhausting task of managing hundreds of brands.
“The transition was a challenge due to the fact that I had so many brands to offer and now my focus is solely on one brand,” explain Armstrong, “but it has made me more well-versed in placing our product with our clients.”
Armstrong’s specialty is his natural people-person attitude; a valuable talent that he looked forward to exploring with his new role in manufacturing. With the ability to devote more face time to his customers, he leveled-up his specialty in globe-trotting to meet clients in some of the world’s most enviable destinations.
“I’ve continued to grow and take on more responsibilities as our industry continues to evolve,” says Armstrong.
Since joining the notorious Dream Team, Armstrong has been put to a big test: renew the company’s stronghold in Spanish-speaking countries, and forge his way into new accounts. Luckily for Armstrong, his Spanish is as good as his sales techniques.
“I have maintained and increased sales within the Latin market and have continued to bring Pipedream products to entirely new international communities,” he said.
Armstrong’s fluency in Spanish has led him on a bucket list-worthy tour of Latin America. His accounts — and business trips — range from Mexico to Central and South America to Spain, and span 10 countries.
“I’m starting to learn many more dialects, phrases and sayings, as each country is pretty diverse with the Spanish language,” remarks Armstrong. “I have started to do presentations in Spanish for groups of clients, buyers and owners, and I also attend international trade shows.”
Granted, Los Angeles might be full of multilingual speakers, but not necessarily ones who are adept at training on the finer points of a King Cock in their second language.
When your target markets cover several dialects and cultures, every trip brings something new to the table.
“My favorite thing about going to visit clients is learning new business techniques and the way businesses are run in other countries,” says Armstrong.
His easy-going personality and sense of humor toward selling some of the pleasure industry’s most famous plastic dicks is perfectly poised for the Latin adult market, which hinges on the brotherly bonds between businessmen.
“The fact that I can turn business relationships into friendships is the strongest thing I can do to grow my business,” says Armstrong. “All of my customers want me to come back, but they want me to bring my family on the next trip or even just to vacation.”
This year, Armstrong can finally take that family vacation. Being a parent in the pleasure industry is the gift that keeps on giving. Either your job is the butt (pun absolutely intended) of every family joke, or it’s a delicate balance of well-intentioned deception.
Armstrong finally decided it was time to have “the talk” that all sex toy sales reps know so well: confessing to your kids that you sell dildos to pay the bills.
“I sat down with my 10-year-old son and explained to him what I did for a living, as he kept on inquiring and getting curious since I travel so often,” Armstrong said.“He was a little weirded out when I told him.”
Like most adolescents, the young Mr. Armstrong put on his best poker face and played it cool.
“He sat back with an awkward face and said, ‘Really? I thought you sold office supplies and traveled around to show people how they work,’” laughs Armstrong.
For the future, Armstrong’s goals are pretty reasonable: keep moving onward and upward in his career, and avoid clumsy situations while attending PTA meetings.
“Being in this business with kids can tend to be a bit awkward,” jokes Armstrong, “like when you’re at a parent-teacher conference and your occupation comes up as a topic.”
However, it’s all worth it for the pride Armstrong can take in working for Pipedream’s Nick Orlandino, a man he calls “the best CEO in the industry.”
With the Dream Team behind him all the way, Armstrong feels anything is possible, even beyond the adult sector.
“This industry becomes even more mainstream everyday,” he concludes. “My next goal is to keep expanding our brand globally with an exciting work ethic and natural motivation.”