People

2013 30 Under 35 Profile: Mike Cronin

Mike Cronin
29
Warehouse supervisor, Electric Supply

By Joe Nowlan

When he graduated from high school in 2002, Mike Cronin wasn’t sure exactly what he wanted to do next. He knew he wanted “to mature a little” and went on to make a decision that showed a maturity beyond his years.

“This was pretty close after 9/11,” he explained, “so I decided it was time I do something kind of selfless. I decided to join the Marines and get some experience in life and mature a little bit while doing something for the country. “

Cronin’s four-year stint included a year in Iraq as a military policeman. He rose to the rank of corporal. He looks back fondly on his time in the military—even the less than pleasant times.

“Iraq was probably one of the worst places on earth that I’ve been. It was hot and dry as you can imagine,” Cronin said. “The hottest I ever saw was 140° in the sun. Our boots were melting on the stones. It was pretty crazy but we got so close to each other that we became like a family….It gave me a maturity. It gave me a sense of responsibility.”

At first he was a bit undecided about where to go in his post-military life. He mentioned this one day to a friend from the Marines who worked at Electric Supply Inc. in Tampa, Fla. The friend put in a good word for Cronin.

“A week later I had a job here,” Cronin said. “I was essentially drawn to the company. I had no idea what electrical distribution was about [at the time].”

He started in the wire room, “because they didn’t really know what to do with me,” he laughed. “They had me kind of floating around. I had a two-week training period there and I didn’t leave for almost two years.”

Cronin soon was promoted to be a team leader in the wire room. He is now a warehouse supervisor. Following each of his promotions, Cronin admits there was an adjustment as he became essentially the boss or supervisor of his coworkers, his buddies.

“At every step you have to detach yourself a little bit as far as the friendships go. But they are a great bunch of guys,” Cronin said. “They listen to me but after hours we’re still friends.”

Cronin and his wife, Heather, became parents last year with the birth of a daughter, Olivia. With all this going on, he has managed to find time to attend college full-time, taking four classes this summer at St. Petersburg College with the hopes of transferring later to the University of Florida to earn his bachelor’s and continue his rise in the electrical industry.

“In this industry, we can do whatever we want. We can do finance, purchasing, human resources, management,” he said. “It is also a tight-knit community….I’ll go to conferences yearly and it just feels like a family, people start to remember each other. I have friends now in California, in Maine that I’ve met at these conferences.”

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

A. If I were mentoring a young professional, I would start by advising them to learn every aspect of the industry. This makes certain that you are ready to advance when the opportunity comes. The other piece of advice I would give would be to become selfless. If you make sure the companies and customers needs are met first, everything will work much smoother. If you work for good people, this will not go unnoticed.

Q. What is one of the biggest challenges today in running your department in today’s economic climate?

A. It’s money (laughing). Our company is doing well. We’re profitable. But were still kind of in that stage where we want to make sure the storm has passed .I know every company says the customer comes first, but Electric Supply really believes that and we go above and beyond for our customers every day. As a manager I have to make sure that [in] our budget we’re not spending too much money, not wasting any money. And my bosses do a great job of that too. I’m just kind of the front-line guy who gives my recommendations and they decide.

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

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