People

2013 30 Under 35 Profile: Shane McMenamy

Shane McMenamy
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Branch manager, Border States Electric

By Joe Nowlan

From the outside looking in, one might say Shane McMenamy has come full circle. Raised in Grand Forks, N.D., he is the manager of the Border States Electric branch located in Grand Forks, N.D.

But his journey back to Grand Forks has been circuitous to say the least.

Growing up, he enjoyed playing hockey which is no surprise. North Dakota winters produce an avid high school and junior hockey following. And the University Of North Dakota Fighting Sioux are among the top college hockey teams in the country.

Those who imagine North Dakota as having nine months of winter a year may be surprised to learn that McMenamy was also an excellent golfer—in fact, he was the 1996 United States Junior Amateur golf champion and attended Arizona State University on a golf scholarship.

“I get that a lot,” McMenamy laughed, “but we do have quite a few good [golfers] here, even though we do only get to play maybe six or seven months out of the year. I played hockey for part of the year and golf for the other half.”

He graduated from Arizona State in 2003 and then played on the Gateway Tour in Arizona—the first step towards qualifying for the more prestigious PGA Tour.

But by McMenamy’s own honest admission, “I didn’t have a very good year.”

At that point in his golf life, “I was pretty burned out and didn’t want to push any further.… At the time I was 22 or 23 years old and saw the writing on the wall and wanted to start my own career.”

McMenamy’s father worked in the electrical industry, first as a lineman and later at Border States from where he retired in 2006. But McMenamy’s decision to go into electrical was less the result of his father’s positive experience and more because “I wanted to start a career and I knew that Border States was a very reputable company and being employee owned, [it was] where I wanted to get my foot in the door.”

He started with the company in 2003. Soon after, McMenamy signed up for its management training program, an intensive and comprehensive program, running 18 to 24 months.

“It’s designed to take you through all facets of Border States at the branch level [including] warehouse, inside sales, project management, account management and branch management” he explained.

McMenamy worked at Border States branches in Phoenix and Albuquerque, New Mexico before returning to Grand Forks where the customer base includes industries such as commercial construction, utility and agriculture.

While he doesn’t play golf as much as he used to, McMenamy still enjoys hockey and coaches the team on which his six-year-old son (Parker) plays. McMenamy and his wife Amy also have a three-year-old daughter, Sadie.

He sounds like a man who is happy with the decision he made to move from the first tee into the electrical distribution field.

“More than anything, electrical distribution is a very dynamic industry,” McMenamy said. “I think our place in the supply chain is becoming more and more prevalent every day. The opportunities are increasing as time goes on.”

Q. What advice do you have for other young professionals in the electrical industry?
A. Be patient. There’s a lot that goes into this industry. You’re not going to learn it all overnight….[Some] want everything right away. I think in this industry you can achieve a lot very fast. This no doubt about that. But if you slow down and experience and learn and take in what’s going on—down the road you’ll be that much more successful.”

Q. What’s the biggest challenge of running your department or your branch in today’s economic climate?
A. The biggest challenge I face year in, year out is with the baby boomers and retirement. I think succession planning and employee development is the biggest challenge. The baby boomers are retiring and they have years and years of experience. So that’s an opportunity for a lot of people. But how do we make it seamless for the customer with all these retirements? How do we retain that knowledge and move forward?

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

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