Account Manager; Dakota Supply Group
By Joe Nowlan
Cameron Pederson first heard about the electrical distribution industry in his own household. His father worked at Fargo, North Dakota-headquartered Dakota Supply Group (DSG), and spoke highly of the work and people there.
Cameron was attending Minnesota State University at Morehead, Minn., when he started working as an intern at DSG.
“While I was going to school I worked in the warehouse for those four years,” Cameron explained. “I acquired the product knowledge and I also did a bit of desk work during that time.”
He also took a few NAED beginner modules, which added to his knowledge and understanding, he explained.
“After I got out of college I got hired by DSG to work out of its St. Paul, Minn., branch as an inside salesperson. While I was there I also filled in doing lighting quotations for a while and also did some switchgear quotations,” he said.
He eventually added some outside sales experience before moving back to the Fargo location eight years ago.
He is a Certified Electrical Professional (CEP)—which he earned through NAED courses for outside electrical sales, he explained. Like many of his industry peers, Cameron knows the learning never stops.
“The way things are moving nowadays with the technology and people improving themselves, investing in themselves—if you’re not doing that there is going to be someone else who is,” Cameron explained. “It’s important to always try to get a leg up and get an edge. The only way you can do that is by continually improving yourself.”
His current title, account manager, finds him working with several commercial contractors, among other customers.
“I have a territory of about 14 customers. My strong point is targeting commercial contractors, doing a lot of design-build projects where we do a lot of designing of the product and work alongside the contractor to help them design projects,” he explained. “I also have a couple of customers that do residential as well as a couple of corporate accounts.”
Commercial has been performing very well, he said.
“The commercial business is very strong in this area. And housing has been fairly good. Up until a couple of years ago the oil market was real big on the western part of the state,” Cameron said. “That benefited us a lot but that has since died down.”
Cameron and his wife Julia, an elementary school teacher, have three sons: Evan, 1; Mason, eight, and Caden, who is nearly two.
The two oldest boys are involved in hockey and Cameron helps to coach their two teams.
“We also like to do some camping and boating. And I play a lot of golf in the summer,” Cameron said.
He agrees with the expression that distribution, and electrical distribution especially, is the only multi-billion dollar industry very few people know about.
“It is not something that people know a lot about,” Cameron explained. “We’re kind of an under the radar type of company. We are not a Home Depot, but we have a specific niche in the market that we fell into. But I’m not sure a lot of people know about it.”
Q. What advice do you have for other young professionals in the electrical industry?
A. The biggest advice I can give them is to do everything you can to learn about the industry and learn about sales, products. [Also] to be yourself. Don’t try to be somebody else. Be genuine and be yourself and build your knowledge and continue to improve. That confidence will show through and help you be successful.
You have role models in your career. But sometimes it doesn’t fit you to do the same thing that they are doing. It is good to always glean that information but sometimes that is just not you.
Q. You and many in the electrical industry seem genuinely enthusiastic about your work and about the industry overall. Why do you think that is?
A. I think that it is a good family career that allows me to be home on weekends. It allows me to have a flexible schedule so I can do things and go to family events. I think the other thing is just the relationships within the whole circle – the relationships with the customers, repeat customers. I am not cold calling. I’m calling on the same people every day and I am developing their trust. And there are people within my company whom I enjoy. They are a good group of people. And likewise, my manufacturers reps. That full circle is really unique in this industry compared to many others. There are a lot of great people in the industry and a lot of level-headed, nice people.
Joe Nowlan is a Boston-based freelance writer/editor and author. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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