Outside sales/clean energy sales City Electric Company
By Joe Nowlan
In 2007, Trevor Gibson was working in Michigan, a state that was going through difficult economic times. He was 21 years old and working for a local bakery in delivery and sales.
His grandfather, a vice president at City Electric Company in Syracuse, N.Y., encouraged him to consider the electrical industry for a career.
“I was looking for change,” Gibson said. “So I went to work for him, starting in the warehouse. [But] when I started out I didn’t really know anything about the electrical distribution.”
Once he started, though, Gibson found that the ongoing learning and daily challenges were something in which he thrived.
“I’m always looking to learn, every day,” he explained. “I’ve done a lot of online training. I have done a lot of manufacturers’ training, where one of their reps comes in to our facility, or we go to their facilities for a couple of days and get training that way.”
He also found that City Electric made it a point of emphasis for its employees to receive the best training possible.
“Our owner, Sandy Rosencrans, has a 20-hour minimum of training per year. So I do get excited about it,” Gibson explained and laughed, “Plus, I also like to keep my job, too! So I do get all those training hours, and then some. I did about 41 hours of training in 2014.”
Gibson currently works in outside sales. He calls on area contractors, selling pipe and wire but also plays a key role in selling lighting.
“I’ll go in there come up with a proposal for the new fluorescent technology or LED technology,” he said. “I’ll try to incorporate state rebates or grants to bring the cost down. So lighting is a big part of my daily job.”
His training has given Gibson a thorough knowledge of modern lighting techniques which lets him offer tips and ideas to customers about potential lighting designs.
“I’m pretty lighting savvy so I can come up with money-saving ideas for the end-users,” he said. “I can also offer that as a free service. Customers like that which, in turn, can give me the advantage to get their order if they do go forward with the project.”
Gibson also heads up City Electric’s solar energy efforts. Solar has been surprisingly successful in Syracuse, he said.
“It was a tough sell to begin with, still is a tough sell.… However, there is plenty of sun up here to make it work financially…. Also, the local banks around here have bought into solar,” he explained. “They will actually finance residential or commercial jobs, if people don’t have the cash flow up front. So that helps make it an easier sell, too.”
He lives in Fulton, N.Y., about 30 miles outside of Syracuse. Gibson is the father of two children – a son, Landon, who is five years old and a daughter, Lily,who is three years old. In his spare time, he joins friends at a local college to play pickup basketball or racquetball.
“So I will still stay active in the [Syracuse] winter, but it will be inside, keeping warm,” he chuckled.
Q. What advice do you have for other young professionals in the electrical industry?
A. Keep your nose to the grindstone. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask for help. Lean on the veterans who have been in the business for 30 or more years. There are mentors like that….We are an independent distributor so we really don’t have much turnover here. We have some guys who are been here for 20 or 30 years. I learned a lot from them. And even taught them some stuff, too, with technologies ever-changing. This industry is evolving every single day. A couple of them are still stuck in the old ways and occasionally I will nudge them a little bit and push them towards change.
Have an upbeat attitude. Follow through with customers and always keep your word. Be honest to yourself and to your customers. They will see that and it is an easy way to build long-lasting relationships.
Q. Where do you see the electrical industry in five years?
A. I think solar will continue to grow in New York State. It is currently the fastest renewable energy source in the United States. So I do see us continuing down that path in the solar industry. There will still be a big push for LED lighting technologies. I also think there will be a big push towards smart grids technologies with the utilities; smart distribution of power and all that.… We are more and more populated. More and more energy is being consumed. I don’t think that we can really keep up with the production. So I know that smart grids are the way that many public service commissions are pushing as well as the government.
Joe Nowlan is a Boston-based freelance writer/editor and author. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Tagged with tED