Energy Specialist, Mayer Electric Supply
By Joe Nowlan
Blake Anderson’s enthusiasm for the electrical industry, specifically new lighting development, is apparent. Combining that with his financial acumen makes for a successful recipe.
“Any time I can save money—that is attractive to me. I love financials,” he said. “And with the technology behind [lighting] constantly evolving, the learning opportunities are continuous, challenging, and constantly offering new opportunities.”
In his current role as an energy specialist for Mayer Electric Supply in Nashville, Tenn., Anderson educates customers on the optimal LED and lighting innovations for their specific business, while emphasizing money saving techniques.
“LED is a sexy term that people are willing to pay more for initially. The quality of the technology that allows the consumer to utilize the product for five-to-10 years matches the price, and that is what the market is moving towards,” he explained.
Of course, upgrading to the latest LED lighting can mean more of an upfront investment. But Anderson has less need for customer hand-holding along these lines than he used to because of its growing popularity. He talks to new customers the way he himself would like to be addressed.
“I do it from a personal standpoint,” Anderson explained. “What would appeal to me? And I try to present it that way…. Then I take on the responsibility of finding ways to make it make sense for [the customer]. We’re not just giving you the right product but also looking for the local rebates that may be available, tax deductions, energy and maintenance savings. We talk through all that stuff and then try to find the right solution.”
Like many in these “30 Under 35” articles, Anderson was in college when he first learned about the electrical industry.
A family member who worked at Mayer (although not in sales) was the first one who mentioned it to him, he explained.
Anderson started in the warehouse and worked there while still in college. He enjoyed the work and over time the position evolved from merely being something to do to earn a little extra income into something that had the potential of becoming a career.
“I eventually had the opportunity to work in our corporate office. After speaking with some of the executives I became more interested, not only in the company, but in the industry,” he said.
Anderson attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in industrial distribution.
“The ID program is one of marketing, management, engineering, and sales. It really rounds you out and primes you for the industry,” Anderson said.
Anderson is 27 years old and single. He is an avid golfer, something that he occasionally ties into his work as well.
“That’s the cool thing about the industry. You can involve some of your customers in those hobbies. There are a lot of people who like to play golf, for example,” he said.
While he lives in Tennessee, when it comes to his favorite team in college football’s Southeast Conference–well, you can take the boy out of Alabama, but…
“I grew up in a big Alabama house. So I’m still a big ‘Bama fan,” he laughed.
Q. What advice do you have for other young professionals in the electrical industry?
A. For me, this industry was built on relationships, very personal relationships. Sometimes I almost lose touch with that from using e-mail, text messages and stuff like that.
This industry is evolving like any other. So continuously educate yourself. Find ways to improve processes and … have those relationships with your customers because the truth is we all kind of sell the same material. We all kind of do some of the same stuff. So leverage those relationships and do it in a very sincere way. Care about your customers like you would your friends. Make them your friends and have fun doing it. Have fun with the business.
Q. What has changed the most in the industry in the past five years?
A. I think technology has exposed everything from pricing to processes. Everyone is kind of scared to say the name “Amazon.” But the Internet has opened everything up for information, pricing, processes and competition. I think if you are a company that’s not keeping up with that type of technology and catering to some of those customers who would rather order something online or via your e-commerce site – that can really put you behind. So I think technology has really changed the game and distribution in the industry in general.
Joe Nowlan is a Boston-based freelance writer/editor and author. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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