2013 30 Under 35 Profile: Chappell Hawthorne

Chappell Hawthorne
Inside Sales, Electrical Equipment Company

By Joe Nowlan

Chappell Hawthorne calls it “the luck of the draw” that led to his first hearing about the Electrical Equipment Company.

At the time, he explained, “I was working for an electrician-plumber. We kind of did a little bit of everything.… But I knew I wanted to be in sales.”

“I knew one of the [EECO] salesmen at the time. And they had a job opening for a warehouse person,” Hawthorne said. “I just saw an opportunity there.”

He was 18 years old when he at EECO—Electrical Equipment Company. But Hawthorne rose steadily and received promotions on virtually an annual basis. From warehouse associate, he moved up to counter sales where he added to his product knowledge. He was soon mentoring with the inside sales staff and joined inside sales full time in 2008.

“I am very goal-oriented. A lot of it comes from my parents. They pushed me pretty hard,” he said appreciatively.

Hawthorne’s father would not allow him to get his driver’s license until he became an Eagle Scout. He achieved that rank, even though only 2 percent of those in the Boy Scouts make the rank of Eagle, Hawthorne explained.

“So I pushed hard to complete everything I started, from an early age,” he said.

Hawthorne was homeschooled. For the four years of his homeschooling, he learned a new trade each year, he explained. Electrical, plumbing, welding, among others. “You name it and I understand it,” Hawthorne said, chuckling.

Looking back, Hawthorne appreciates the freedom that this afforded him especially once he arrived at EECO.

“EECO started seeing that I really wanted to advance,” he said. “I don’t want to sit still. I don’t want to be comfortable. EECO opened the doors for me to allow me to continue to improve.”

Early in 2013, Hawthorne earned his Certified Electrical Professional degree.

“It gives you more confidence personally knowing that other people recognize that I have experience in the field of work that I am in – sales and electrical,” he explained. “I’m always looking to learn. I know that I can always learn new things.… That’s just how I am.”

He works out of the South Hill, Virginia EECO location. He was born and raised in Lunenburg, Va.

He has been married for six years to his wife, Nikki. They have two sons: Ryder, age three, and Riley, who is five.

He travels around the country pursuing one of his hobbies, skeet shooting.

“[Skeet shooting] has helped me get to meet all kinds of different people from Virginia to Colorado, in Canada to Florida,” he said. “I’ve met people all over the place and just about every state in between.”

Last year, he started coaching his sons T-ball teams. “That was super fun.… My wife and I work very hard to make sure our kids have many of the opportunities that we had,” Hawthorne explained.

His wife grew up on a farm. For six years she has run her own childcare business, he said.

“In the six years that she has had it, she has done very well,” he said proudly. “In fact, she’s the only licensed one in our county.”

Q. What advice do you have for other young professionals in the electrical industry?

A. “I would tell them to keep your drive. Find your motivation. My motivation is my family. I have that drive because I know I want to make my parents proud. I want to know my family is safe, comfortable and that I know I can fend for them. If you find that motivation, find that drive you can accomplish anything. And having a great company stand behind you like electrical equipment company [EECO], that is icing on the cake. They allow you to keep growing, moving and training.

Q. You’re one of the youngest people to be recognized this year. Do you ever run into difficulty commanding respect in the company? If so, how do you manage that?

A. I haven’t had any issues [along those lines] with the company. EECO is very welcoming…. Now in the field, with the customers and some of the other manufacturers—here and there you do get some kickback from some of the senior people who are more experienced. But once I get talking to people, they kind of understand that I also have a little bit of experience at what I’m doing, that I’m still growing and I am still learning. I do have some experience and I do know what I’m talking about. If you call me, you’ll get an answer.

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

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