Operations Manager, Springfield Electric Supply
By Joe Nowlan
Heath Stinebaker was actually a Springfield Electric Supply customer before he became a Springfield Electric Supply employee.
He was working for an electrical contractor while also going to school. As part of his work, Stinebaker made frequent stops at the Springfield Electric warehouse. How frequent?
“At least once a day,” he laughed. “In talking to the guys there, it just looked like a really good place to work. Everybody had been there for a long time and they seemed pretty happy for the most part.”
With that in mind, he reached a point where he decided to look seriously into getting a job with Springfield Electric and “was lucky to get my foot in the door,” he explained.
His early impressions proved to be true as Stinebaker found himself enthused about the work at Springfield Electric.
“I liked the feel of the place and I knew I wanted to stay in this industry,” he explained. “And once you get into the distribution side of it, you see there are a lot of opportunities.”
Stinebaker started in the warehouse. A year later, he was promoted to counter sales. In 2007, he was moved to inside sales. He learned more and more at each stop, he explained.
“In the warehouse, I was kind of a floater. I would drive the truck, help out at the counter a little bit, shipping, receiving—whatever was needed,” he explained. “It was a big learning experience where I really understood exactly what needed to get done.”
But Stinebaker explained that inside sales was his most important learning experience.
“My inside sales is probably my most vital, my favorite, and the one where you learn the most, just because I saw exactly what it took to get an order, how to make customers happy and let them know they can trust you,” he said. “You learn how to conduct yourself on the business end. For every transaction you are doing, you really understand what it takes to be successful and how to make money in this industry.”
Like many in this 30 Under 35 series, Stinebaker’s industry education really never stops. He was the first-ever graduate of NAED’s Branch Management University Program.
“They had a pretty big band of things you could look at, from accounting to financing, to marketing and some sales stuff. It was a pretty broad spectrum,” he explained.
He also has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Benedictine University in Springfield, Ill., earning it on the college’s adult accelerated program, which enabled him to continue to work days at Springfield Electric while going to classes at night.
Stinebaker and his wife Ryann have two sons: Dax, three years-old, and nine-month-old Dylan. Born and raised in Riverton, Illinois, he played football, basketball and baseball in high school and remains active.
“I get a workout usually every day at lunch. I still play basketball and a little bit of softball here and there; pretty much anything to stay busy. I don’t really sit still too often. I drive my wife crazy with stuff like that,” he laughed.
Q. What advice would you have for other young professionals in the electrical industry?
A. A lot of what I tell some of our newer associates is that managers want somebody whom they don’t have to directly manage all the time. So the advice that I give them is come in, put your head down and do what needs to be done. And always remember that everything you do sends a message—whether it is what you’re doing in the warehouse or if you are going out on a job site. That guy you’re dropping stuff off to now might be a different person in 10 years. So everything you do on a given day to a given person sends a message that somebody is probably going to remember.
It’s a hard thing for my generation and the next generation below me to understand what true hard work is. That is a hard thing to get into a lot of kids’ minds nowadays. A lot of us have it a lot easier than our grandparents and our parents had.
Q. What has been the most rewarding aspect of working in this industry?
A. On the external side, it is our customers. Our customers are pretty loyal to us. The vast majority of them treat us respectfully just as we treat them with respect.
The next thing that comes to mind, and this is really a company thing, are the people I work around. You spend a lot of hours here and these are truly my extended family. Everybody that I am around would probably do a lot for me and I would do about anything for them.… This is a family-owned business I work for. And this family has been very, very generous to me and my family, let alone the rest of the families that work for us. Every day I come into work I remember to give back to the family that has given me so much in my career.
Joe Nowlan is a Boston-based freelance writer/editor and author. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Tagged with tED