Lighting quotations supervisor, Werner Electric
By Joe Nowlan
Looking back on that day, Joe Gangl is glad he was paying attention in class.
While attending University of Wisconsin at La Crosse, Gangl heard Barry Boyer, then president of Van Meter Electric, speak to his class on process management. Boyer was a friend of the professor teaching that course.
“She brought Barry in to talk about employee engagement,” said Gangl. “Barry painted a great picture of Van Meter and what it was like to work there. He also talked about Werner Electric and painted the same picture.”
An economics and marketing major, Gangl was impressed by what he heard about the companies as well as the electrical industry.
“I didn’t completely understand wholesale electrical distribution at that time,” he explained. “I knew about tech distribution but not electrical distribution. I was definitely intrigued by the sales side of the business.”
Upon graduating, Gangl accepted a job at Werner Electric. He started where many in the industry do—the warehouse. He knew early on it was the best possible place for him.
“It was a great introduction. I had never dealt with the operations side of any business. I had some internships in the past but this was my first real professional job,” Gangl explained. “Looking back, the time that I spent there was really enlightening… it made me understand our business a lot better.”
Gangl’s eyes were also opened at the extent of the inventory a large electrical distributor has on hand.
“After working in the distribution center for four months, I could talk about the different types of products we stocked, specifically automation products… I understood just how much inventory we had on hand as well as the diversity of it,” he explained.
Gangl moved up the Werner ladder, eventually working as one of its Philips lighting specialists. Later, he was a construction sales specialist before his current title, lighting quotations supervisor.
Each promotion meant having more to learn. It is a challenge Gangl embraces.
“I love learning about new products. It gives me the opportunity to offer the best solution to my customer,” he said. “That gets me excited… As a specialist we’re there to support our outside sales team… and we are the ones with knowledge about each product.”
He was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. Gangl has been back in Minnesota for five years and is happy to be home.
“I am definitely a big advocate for my state. I’m really proud of where I am from,” he said.
Gangl likes getting outdoors as often as he can.
“I don’t think there is a sport that I don’t like to play,” he laughed. “Since summer is only four months here, I try to spend at least a few hours outside every night if I can.”
He stays active by bicycling and running as well as playing golf. Frisbee golf, that is.
“Frisbee golf is as simple as it sounds,” he laughed. “You are throwing at a basket at the end of a 150 yard hole.”
Q. What advice would you have for other young professionals in the electrical industry?
A. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. A lot of people have a lot of good knowledge that they are willing to share with you. However, they are not going to do that unless you engage them. I think a career is made from perseverance and always being curious. It doesn’t even have to be related to your job description or a part of our business. The more questions you ask, the more knowledge you accrue, the better you’re going to be prepared for any situation.
Q. You are one of the younger people to be recognized this year. Do you ever run into any difficulty in commanding respect in the company?
A. Respect is something that you have to earn. The same goes for trust. So when I took the position as lighting design supervisor, I went to talk to my team to get to know them as people. I have to earn their trust just as much as they have to earn mine. It is the give-and-take of trying to get to know people and I think respect comes from that. The challenge is that each person is different and the time it takes to earn mutual respect will vary from one to another.
Joe Nowlan is a Boston-based freelance writer/editor and author. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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