Branch manager, 3E-Electrical Engineering Equipment Co
By Joe Nowlan
Essentially, Cory Kessler first heard about the electrical industry at the family dinner table.
His father worked for City Electric for 33 years before retiring. His brother also worked there, and is still in the industry in California.
“So I grew up in the industry,” Kessler said. “Growing up in the business, you get to meet a lot of people…. So when I was able to start on a career of my own, the path was already paved a little bit.”
Kessler worked part time at City Electric while in school. And not always in the glamour positions either.
“I was the gopher. ‘Go for this. Go for that,'” he laughed. “And mopping the bathroom floors, cleaning the toilets—but also putting stock away and helping them wherever I could do it. So that provided a lot of good experience.”
After graduating from the University of Iowa, Kessler began his full time career at 3E-Electrical Engineering Equipment Co. He started in the warehouse but already had a leg up, given his part time experience at City Electric.
“When I went to work for 3E in Des Moines, I was already familiar with the parts and pieces. It gave me a good solid foundation to start with,” Kessler said. “So when I went to the warehouse I was familiar with how the orders were getting pulled and what parts went with what pieces.”
After starting at the 3E warehouse Kessler moved to counter sales, then to inside sales. From there he was promoted to outside sales.
“In counter sales, you are learning parts and pieces and how they go together. Inside sales, you’re learning more of the sales side,” he explained. “At every step you learn more and more and from being able to associate with different people.”
City Electric was acquired by 3E in August 2012. In September, Kessler came back to work at 3E’s Iowa City location, eventually becoming branch manager.
Since Kessler has been managing the Iowa City branch, it has become one of 3E’smore profitable Iowa locations. Kessler and his employees have seen total sales there grow by 63%, 3E estimates. And net income grew by 104%.
Kessler is proud of this but makes sure to emphasize the main reason.
“I am big on team, building a team and creating a team. I cannot do it without my team, the employees who work under me,” he explained.
As branch manager, Kessler is oftentimes a mentor, a role he embraces.
“That’s why I get up and come to work every day—to watch these employees grow as individuals and coworkers,” he said. “The numbers are great. The growth is great but I truly love watching my employees grow as individuals. I can’t do it without them.”
He and his wife Angela have two children—Coleman, who is 19 years old, and daughter Courtney, who is 10 years old.
“I try to get out and play golf,” Kessler said. “I coach our youth tackle football program in West Branch. I coach my daughter’s basketball and softball teams. So when I am not working, I’m usually involved in some sort of athletics with the kids.”
Q. What advice would you have for other young professionals in the electrical industry?
A. Value the relationships that you build with the customers and vendors. The way the industry and the way business is changing is that it is getting harder and harder. If you stick with your core values and you work hard and work hard for the customer, good things will come about. With technology, everything is going online, but distribution still controls the relationships and brings the value of knowledge to the table.
Q. What has been the most rewarding aspect for you of working in this industry?
A. For me, it is the growth opportunities and the customers. As far as growth opportunities for me has been the opportunity to work my way through the sales channel into branch management for 3E, along the way there have been many different directions I could have taken because of the opportunities available within our organization. For the customer side I get to deal with a lot of different customers whether it be contractors, hospitals, universities, industrials, or commercial, so it is never the same every day because each segment brings a different way of doing business and a different need to the table.
Joe Nowlan is a Boston-based freelance writer/editor and author. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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