Director of operations, MARS Electric
By Joe Nowlan
Given that Mars Electric is his family’s business, it’s no surprise that Michael Doris probably first heard about the electrical industry about the same time he learned to walk.
“I kind of grew up with it. I am the third generation of our family in [Mars Electric],” he said.
Doris remembers being around the business at a young age.
“My dad would take us into the office, especially on Saturdays if he was going in.…I worked a little bit there in high school, during the summers while in college,” Doris explained. “I had different stints in the company throughout the years before I came to work here full-time.”
In fact, there are some longtime Mars Electric employees who still remember Doris from those days.
“When I first came to work here full-time there were people saying that they remember when I was about two feet tall and running around,” he laughed.
Doris started where most electrical employees started, in the company warehouse. As his training progressed he moved on to the sales counter.
“I started in the warehouse and spent six months or so and did every job there,” Doris explained. “I spent a number of months at the sales counter at our headquarters and then worked at different branches as well.”
Those sales counter days were where Doris learned a great deal, he said.
“You really have to be able to have intelligent conversations with customers,” Doris explained. “You need to understand what the material is that they are talking about and what they are using it for. That is where I really think I got the fundamental understanding of the products that we sell, who our customers are and what they are looking for.”
It began what for Doris has been a virtually daily learning experience, given the product innovations in today’s electrical industries.
“It is almost overwhelming. There is so much to learn and you cannot learn it fast enough,” he said. “I don’t always have to know the answer but I have to know where to go find it. Or who to ask. I am a big believer in not being afraid to ask questions to people who are smarter and know more than me.”
There is one thing that Doris learned early on that has not changed, he said. Relationships are more important than ever.
“I think we are in a relationship business and a customer service business at the end of the day. They are probably as crucial as ever or even more crucial than ever,” he explained. “Our customers can go buy the same material at a lot of different places. We have to provide that extra level of service and relationships where they want to place their order with Mars.”
Doris and his wife Robyn were married in September, 2014. On their honeymoon they went on a safari in South Africa.
“We had an unbelievable time and we would go back in a heartbeat,” he said. “It is a whole different world. It was like being in a National Geographic video every day for a couple of weeks.”
Q. What advice would you have for other young professionals in the electrical industry?
A. I always encourage the newer employees here to be inquisitive. When you don’t know something, ask questions. It is the fastest way to learn. Ask lots of good questions and embrace challenges. Raise your hand for opportunities and don’t be afraid. That is how you will stand out. Take on different challenges. Learn new things and you will be more valuable to whatever company you’re working for.
People are more than happy to answer questions. I think that is part of our culture here at Mars. We help each other out and there is a high level of teamwork. It is a goal of our managers to get our new employees up and running. We want them to be inquisitive and ask those questions. That is the only way they’re going to learn.
Q. What has changed the most in the industry in the past five years?
A. The thing that always stands out to me when we talk about this is the lighting, how fast the lighting industry has changed. The new technology and how it has really revolutionized our business and the products we sell.…There are still some customers who are stuck on buying what they bought for the past 20 years, but I think, for the most, part people have adapted and they see the benefits with cost savings and longevity. They have just accepted it.
Joe Nowlan is a Boston-based freelance writer/editor and author. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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