People

2013 30 Under 35 Profile: Ryan Evans

Ryan Evans
33
Branch Manager at Gexpro

By Joe Nowlan

Ryan Evans started early in the electrical industry. He was 16 when he began working at Graybar near his family home in the Pittsburgh area.

What drew him to the industry? The appeal of a growing field? Word-of-mouth about working there? Nope.

“Well, I wasn’t drawn to the industry. I got a couple of Cs on my report card so my dad made me go to work,” Evans laughed. “I wasn’t thinking about it as a career. I was just making some money and learning about the business.”

His grades improved and he attended the University of Pittsburgh, where he majored in history. He is part of a long line of Pitt graduates in his family.

Evans continued to work at Graybar while at Pitt. With graduation approaching, his employer, impressed by his contributions, surprised him one day.

“When I got out of school, they said to me, ‘If you just stay here, you wouldn’t have to look for job. And we’d probably pay you more,'” he explained.

Evans worked for Graybar for 14 years including positions in North Carolina, the St. Louis corporate office, and outside sales in Boston.

In 2011 Evans left for a new opportunity with Rexel’s energy division in Southern California.

“Energy, of course, is a big topic in the California market and everywhere in the country…. Being an energy specialist out there brings its own challenges but it also has a lot of benefits because you have a large market to understand,” Evans explained.

While the market has improved, he still finds that the toughest part of the sell is convincing customers that the upfront investment will more than pay for itself down the road.

“People understand the energy savings piece of it and want to get involved but there is still that financial hurdle,” he said. “What we do is lay out that it’s more than just energy savings. It is cash management…. We’re selling profitability and that’s what we want [them] to understand.

In June, 2013, he became the Gexpro branch manager in Wakefield, about 15 miles northwest from Boston. (Gexpro is the sister company of Rexel.) He is quick to credit several professional mentors who have helped him get to where he is today—Pat Davis, Dennis Grousosky, John Gerber, Tom Brown, and Reg Barclay, among others.

In his spare time, Evans plays hurling and Gaelic football. He trains twice a week with the games scheduled on the weekends from March to September—injuries permitting.

“I remember my boss being a bit upset when I had a couple of broken ribs [from football] and couldn’t come to work,” he laughed.

He is 33 years-old and is going through what many athletes (amateur or pro) experience.

 “I’ve definitely noticed it takes longer and longer to get over aches and pains,” Evans said.

The Pittsburgh native is a lifelong Pittsburgh Steeler fan. And while he likes the Boston area, Evans knows he is living in New England Patriot country. This season he was in the stands when the Steelers visited the Patriots. Final score: 55-31, Patriots.

“Oh, yeah. I was there,” he laughed. “It was terrible!”

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

A. Get it out of your head that price is a starting point. Most of my career has been in sales. Once people understand what the customer is trying to accomplish, the less it is about price and more about relationship building and customer profitability. Then I think they’ll be successful.… Price is easy to fix. Everything else is hard.

Q. Why are you so passionate about the electrical industry?

A. I like the people I work with, the customer base and I like what the job entails as far as day-to-day. You can’t do something you hate. I’ve been lucky and fortunate enough [that] I’ve always enjoyed everyone I work with.… I love going to work each day.

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

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