People

2013 30 Under 35 Profile: Alex Orr

2013 30 Under 35 Profile: Alex Orr

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Alex Orr
26
Regional sales manager, EverLast Lighting

By Joe Nowlan

When Alex Orr was graduating from college and interviewed with Everlast Lighting, he was surprisingly candid in discussing his credentials.

“I told them that my knowledge was limited about the electrical industry and that frankly I didn’t even know much about lighting,” Orr said.

Not quite the way to a hiring manager’s heart? Orr had a follow up.

“I told them that I was a sponge, that I thought I could be a perfect candidate for the job because I could learn the products, materials and techniques their way,” he explained. “I had no existing bad habits.”

The fact that Orr is now regional sales manager for EverLast (based in Jackson, Mich.) shows his instincts were correct. A graduate of Defiance College, he took to heart a lesson he learned there.

“I had always heard from some of my professors that companies wanted to hire people who were trainable. It was one of the biggest gains from attending college. It might not necessarily be what you learn there. It’s about becoming trainable, becoming teachable,” he said.

As EverLast’s regional sales manager, most of Orr’s territory is in the East, from Maine down to North Carolina, he explained. He tracks sales numbers, takes on the role of a project manager and sees to it that his manufacturer reps have the most up-to-date product information.

“I also help to convey the customer needs to our research partners and internal departments so we can make sure we’re developing products that are going to be feasible in the marketplace,” he said.

Orr has also learned enough to be one of EverLast’s commercial lighting consultants.

“That isn’t so much a position as it is a role [I can play]. It typically requires me go into the field in certain instances…with the customers and with the reps, and make sure to refer them to the correct products for their specific application,” Orr said.

Orr and his fiancé, Rachel Moses, own a dog (Brewtus, a German Shepherd-Rottweiler mix) and enjoy the four seasons that Michigan has to offer.

“I’m an outdoors person. In the winter we go out skiing up north. In the spring, the water levels are typically high and are ideal for kayaking,” Orr said. “In the summer and fall, the golf is great. There are several courses around us.”

Another hobby he has enjoyed learning about is fireworks and pyrotechnics. Orr teams up each Fourth of July with Wolf Lake Pyrotechnics.

“Every year, I donate my time for two days to help them set up fireworks shows. We do back-to-back days. The displays are 30 to 45 minutes long,” he explained. “I never really knew how much was involved… Timing and safety are two critical components.”

He volunteers his time elsewhere including with charities such as Habitat for Humanity.

“I feel fortunate to have a good position here… and to be financially stable and have the ability to actually go out there and donate my time and my services to the community,” he said. “And at EverLast, we’re heavily into service oriented programs.”

Q. What advice do you have for other young professionals in the industry?
A. Just keep growing and learning. Take on new projects. Take on new opportunities. You can never have too many things on your plate. You can always learn. You can always benefit from learning something new.… And you can benefit your employer, having the ability to take on and do projects and just continue to grow; be able to hold those intelligent conversations when you’re networking and speak intelligently about other people’s situations. That’s highly beneficial.

Q. You’re among the younger members of this year’s “30 under 35” list. Do you ever run into difficulty earning respect, commanding respect in the company because of your age? And if so, how do you manage that?
A. That does happen, maybe not necessarily internally but externally, out in the field. People see me as kind of a young buck, if you will. What I try to do is deliver the information in a manner that can be understood by that individual and take an approach that really fits them. If they don’t want to be taken head-on, I’ll take a more subtle approach. It can often be about delivery. If you deliver a message in a way that the person on the other end will receive it, that is really important….If I deliver the message in a way that they feel as if they are still in command and understand me, while I’ve effectively delivered my message, that’s a win for me.

Joe Nowlan is a Boston-based freelance writer/editor and author. He can be reached at jcnowlan@msn.com.

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