34 (33 at the time of nomination)
Inside sales-counter sales manager; Blazer Electric Supply
By Joe Nowlan
Josh Rowley jokes that because his father-in-law owns Blazer Electric Supply, “he kind of dragged me into this.”
Family or not, Rowley started at Blazer Electric where most new employees began.
“I started in the warehouse and kind of worked my way up through there,” he said.
Along with his warehouse responsibilities, though, he was also a delivery driver and early on learned an important lesson.
“Being a driver puts you right in the end user’s hands,” Rowley said. “You learn pretty quickly how valuable customer service is….Anybody can drive a truck and get the materials there. It is what you do when you get there [that matters]. In a way, you are an on-site salesman,” he said. “They can always call somebody else if they don’t like the delivery driver. So you have to form a relationship with them, ask if there’s anything else you can get for them.”
It is a lesson he has used virtually every day since. For all the technology and new products that come along, the importance of customer service hasn’t changed at all, he said. In fact, it may matter more than ever.
“Especially with online ordering, the Amazons and the big online companies, Rowley explained. “The only way to beat them is by good old-fashioned customer service. That’s what we thrive on here.”
After a couple of years, Rowley became warehouse manager. A year or so later, he moved to counter sales. Eventually he was promoted to inside sales where he has worked for about three years. Currently, he is the inside sales-counter sales manager and manages 12 people.
Training, of course, is an ongoing part of Rowley’s job. And while he appreciates the various classroom and online education he’s received, there is one source Rowley values above the rest.
“There is no better training than learning day-to-day from the customers,” Rowley said. “In my opinion, they are the best education. They are the ones out there. They are the ones telling us what we need to sell them, in most cases.…That hands-on training is invaluable.”
The majority of Rowley’s Colorado customer base is commercial construction, he explained.
“[And] we deal a lot with the government too. We are surrounded by the Air Force Academy, Fort Carson Army Base, Peterson Air Force Base, and Schriever Air Force Base,” he explained.
Rowley and his wife Casey have two sons: Russell (7) and Cody (5). Both boys are active in sports.
“They play T-ball and soccer. So I go to a lot of their games,” he explained. “There is no better reward then going to watch them play those games.”
He is an avid outdoorsman, hunting for elk, deer and other wildlife. Rowley also enjoys dirt biking occasionally.
“Before I had kids I’d get a little crazy doing the jumping and motor cross, that typical stuff,” he laughed. “But after the kids, I slowed it down. I do a lot of trail riding now. We have the mountains about 20 minutes away from us so I’ll go up in the mountains on the trails.”
Q. What advice would you have for other young professionals in the electrical industry?
A. I would start by saying that no one knows that they are going into the electrical industry [as a career]. They start in college, work their way up [towards graduation]. But when they land here, when they get themselves in the electrical industry, they should take advantage of it. It is a great industry. So take advantage of it. Create a career out of it. And you will succeed because it is a very, very good industry to be in.
Q. What do you think is the biggest opportunity within the industry?
A. I would say that the biggest opportunity is that this industry will never go away. You take the newspaper industry, and that is gone. But the electrical industry is expanding. With the energy savings applications and going to LEDs—all those improvements that are being made. It is never going to go away. Even if someday robots are running this world, they are still going to need a way to find electricity to get those robots going. So it is never going to go away. It is a great industry.… You just have to stay upbeat and stay involved in what is coming out. You can’t be too old-school about it [and] just sell simple electrical products. We have to be trained and educated as to what we are selling as each new product comes out.
Joe Nowlan is a Boston-based freelance writer/editor and author. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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