34 (33 at time of nomination)
Account Manager-Industrial/Automation; Dakota Supply Group
By Joe Nowlan
Like many in the electrical industry, Ryan Baloun liked to take things apart when he was growing up. And most times he would be able to put them back together.
“Oh, I would get them back together again,” he laughed. “Sometimes they would work and sometimes I would also try to improve them.”
In high school, Baloun heard from a friend that he could make a living someday working on electrical products. That friend had started working with an electrician.
“He was telling me about the stuff that he got to do, all the things that he was learning,” explained Baloun. “This electrician kind of took him under his wing. And he really enjoyed it. More often than not, he was also teaching him how to fix things – broken radios or old VCRs, equipment like that. And that fascinated me.”
Baloun went on to attend Southeast Technical Institute in Sioux Falls, S.D., and found that the more he learned, the more his passion for the work grew.
While in school, he started working part time in Dakota Supply Group’s warehouse. Upon graduating in 2001, he started at DSG full time and has been there ever since. From the warehouse, he moved to the automation department.
“I got an opportunity to work in the electrical automation department, building control panels,” Baloun said, adding that he spent about seven years in automation in various roles.
“I went from building to assembling to pricing and working with vendors. Then at the end I would go up into the oil fields to get business for the company,” he explained.
As 2015 concluded, oil exploration and drilling had seen better days.
“The oil rigs on site are whittled down to probably 20% of what they used to be” Baloun explained. “I still have some contacts up there and whatever wells they are drilling, they are capping. They are not even putting pumping units on them. They are just drilling the hole and then capping it.”
Baloun’s current title is account manager-industrial/automation.
“Basically ‘account manager’ is an outside salesman,” he explained. “I call on a lot of OEM manufacturing companies. Anything from grain elevator controls to industrial-sized water heaters or steam machines. It varies quite differently.”
Baloun grew up on a small South Dakota farm just north of Highmore, S.D. He married his wife Beth this past November.
“I’m a farm kid actually,” he said. “We raised a lot of wheat and corn, soybeans. We also raised cattle so we were a farm and a ranch. There was always plenty of work to do there.”
Just as he did when he was in high school learning all he could, Baloun today enjoys the ongoing training his job requires.
“One of the main reasons that I originally got into electronics or electrical when I went to school is that I knew the technology would always be changing,” he explained. “Therefore, you wouldn’t be doing or working with the same items or information every single day…. You always have to be learning and that is very challenging.… You can never be too smart. You can never know too much.”
Q. What advice would you have for other young professionals in the industry?
A. My advice is always to be open to new things, to learning, to working hard. And keep a positive attitude in the workplace. If you are an approachable person and you are willing to learn and work, I think your opportunities are endless.
Q. What industry-related books, websites, blogs or social media do you follow regularly and why [excluding tED magazine and NAED materials]?
A. There are a lot of companies out there and we are doing a lot of our online training with our vendors. I also follow a lot of my customers and fellow employees who share electrical industry information on Facebook and Twitter. Those social media outlets are getting to be more and more popular in this industry every single day.
Joe Nowlan is a Boston-based freelance writer/editor and author. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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