Pricing Specialist Supervisor, Border States Electric
By Joe Nowlan
In 2006, Jason Schulz had completed college at North Dakota State University and like many graduates needed to make a decision. “I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. I liked business. I liked finance,” he explained. “I figured it was time to make a move and get into my field of study. My sister-in-law worked at Border States and sent me a job opportunity as an inventory pricing associate.”
SchuIz got an interview and impressed the Border States people. Since then he has had various titles in his time at the company, many dealing with various pricing levels and inventory.
Eventually, a manager was impressed by his work with pricing quotes and suggested he join a new data support project team. “That focused on supporting the data intensive projects and processes for our corporate inventory and pricing departments.… We focused on forecasting, lead time management [and] accessing Microsoft Access databases,” he explained.
He did that for a little over four years, he said. Today, Schulz’s title is pricing specialist supervisor. “Since June 2014, I have been pricing specialist supervisor. Talk about full circle – I now get a chance to supervise the team where I first started.… That is leading and supervising the day-to-day Operations and pricing specialist activities.”
Not that long ago, Schulz was the new employee being mentored. As part of that full circle, he finds himself now being the mentor to younger Border States employees. It is a challenge he embraces. “[Mentoring] is a big piece of our company’s culture. Just a few years ago, I was being mentored by one of our procurement managers and he helped me out immensely, just meeting with him weekly or every couple of weeks,” he explained. “Just being able to asking questions about really anything. Now I have the opportunity to pass it along to some of the newer employees just joining our company.”
In his current role, of course, Schulz has to stay on top of pricing and related software. But he also has to maintain a thorough product knowledge, he explained. “It’s not as much as if I were on the customer service side, like the inside sales or an inventory planning side,” Schulz said. [But] we still need quite a bit of product knowledge.”
As a graduate from North Dakota State University, he remains an enthusiastic fan of the school’s football and basketball teams. “I’m a pretty passionate Bison fan,” he said. “It’s been a lot of fun.… I think I’ve missed only one home [football] game the last few years, and I’ve gone to a lot of away games as well.”
He is 33 years-old. He and his girlfriend, Elizabeth Weick, and just concluded building a home together, having completed the project at the end of August of last year.
“It was a pretty interesting process. Some stressful times but it got done a couple of weeks early. So it all worked out,” he explained. “We hired a builder and then just went through the process of picking everything out, the lighting, the flooring – pretty much everything.”
Q. What advice do you have for other young professionals in the industry?
A. I will sometimes listen to motivational speeches and videos. One of the things I heard that kind of relates to any professional in any industry … is six rules of success. And I try to live by these rules:
1. Trust yourself. The best person to tell you what is good for you, and what is not, is you. So trust yourself.
2. Break some rules. What I mean by this is to think outside the box. If you do things just like everyone else, you’re probably going to get the same results. So think outside the box and try to get different results.
3. This is kind of a big one for me – don’t be afraid to fail. Try new things. Try to improve processes. If you see something where you work and you think you can do it better, bring up an idea and try it. If it fails, don’t be afraid to try new things anymore. Try to improve things.
4. Ignore the naysayers.
5. Work your butt off. Always work hard and give it everything you’ve got. It will all pay off in the end.
6. Give something back to the community.… Always try to enhance the communities that you live in.
Q. Why are you so passionate about the electrical industry?
A. I think it all comes back to Border States and it being employee-owned. That is a big driver for us. We are all owners of the company. Our senior leadership team empowers us to make decisions. So I want to do what is best for the company. Every day they allow us to make decisions that affect that. Just being an owner means we have such passion for the electrical industry and for my company.… You see it every day when you come to work. When people have a stake in it… they want to work that much harder to make a difference for the company.
Joe Nowlan is a Boston-based freelance writer/editor and author. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Tagged with tED