Branch Manager; Stoneway Electric Supply
By Joe Nowlan
Jesse Gilomen hadn’t heard about the electrical industry when he took an elective course in supply chain management while a freshman at Central Washington University.
“I really, really liked it and changed my degree from marketing to supply chain management a couple of weeks later,” he said. “It was definitely something that caught my eye and I liked how unique the degree was. I figured it would help me to differentiate myself a little bit. It seemed like a better fit potentially than a marketing or finance degree.”
After Jesse’s graduation, a family friend, who was the executive vice president at Stoneway, encouraged him to visit one of the branches and interview with them. Jesse was impressed. As was Stoneway.
“Being a privately owned and smaller company, it seemed like a good fit for me,” he explained. “The feel of the company attracted me. It was a little bit different than a lot of the other companies I was looking at and I liked that.”
Stoneway Electric put Jesse on a fairly rapid training track, he explained. He worked in the warehouse for a few months followed by a stint at the sales counter. Time in inside and outside sales soon followed.
“Then my boss asked me if I wanted to be a branch manager,” Jesse said. “He told me it was a good opportunity and I accepted it.”
Most of Jesse’s customer base these days is electrical contractors, he explained.
“We deal with contractors—the majority is commercial and residential contractors. And we do quite a bit of our industrial business with contractors as well,” he said.
Among the better-selling products are LEDs, of course.
“LEDs in general are probably one of our biggest growth sectors in this market. Kent, Wash., is one of the biggest warehousing cities in the country,” Jesse explained. “We have a lot of commercial real estate that is relatively old and has old technology in it. So we have been able to capitalize on a lot of energy and retrofits, upgrades.”
It was back when he first moved into sales that Jesse realized that Stoneway could be a career more than just a job.
“When I first moved into sales, I saw it was a good industry for me. I also kind of realized that Stoneway was very invested in bringing a new generation of employees and leaders into this industry,” he said. “And because of their willingness to do so I think that was definitely when I saw it was more of a career opportunity as opposed to just a job.”
Jesse was married last September. He and his wife Kate had just returned from a European honeymoon when this interview was conducted.
In his spare time he enjoys golf and motorcycles. His motorcycle of the choice at the moment is a Suzuki 1200.
“One of the perks of my jobs is I get to do a little bit of golf for work,” he said. “That’s always fun. And I’ve also always been into motorcycles and cars—messing around with those and getting them to go a little faster!”
Q. What advice would you have for other young professionals in the electrical industry?
A. Be willing to put in the time to move up. There are lots of opportunities and people move up at different rates. If you invest some time in this industry, the industry will invest in you. This industry is more of a relationship-based industry. Build those relationships and work on those relationships. Things will eventually take off.
Q. You are one of the youngest people to be recognized this year. Have you ever run into difficulty commanding respect in the company because of your age? If so, how have you managed that?
A. There was a little bit of difficulty at the very beginning. I have been a branch manager since I was 21 and at that point I would say that there may have been a little bit of difficulty commanding the respect of certain employees. What I found to be successful in working with people that are older than me and managing people that are older than me is to show them that you are willing to put in the work and that you are willing to not only work as hard as they do but possibly outwork them.
I think I have shown most of my employees, and many of my peers as well, that I am willing to work at least as hard as they do. And they respect that.
Joe Nowlan is a Boston-based freelance writer/editor and author. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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