Centralized Inside Sales Supervisor; The Hite Company
By Joe Nowlan
In 2001, just out of high school and a new parent, Matt Miller was looking for a better job than the one he had. That's when he first heard about Altoona, Pennsylvania-based Hite Company.
“I had a family member who worked there. I was 19 years old and had just had a child and needed to upgrade my job. I actually started working in the warehouse,” Matt said.
Like many in the electrical industry, he admits it wasn't an industry he had given any thought to.
“It is not typically an industry where you say, 'Hey, I'm going to join the electrical industry',” he laughed.
While he enjoyed working there and learning in the warehouse, Matt already had his eyes on other goals and enrolled at Penn State University. He attended classes while also working fulltime at Hite.
“The company was great and flexible with my schedule. They thought my education was more important than anything else,” Matt explained. “So every semester I would bring my school schedule in and we would sit down and make sure that I was able to get the required amount of hours to maintain full-time status, keep health insurance and all that.”
Matt works out of Hite's branch in Altoona, not far from where Penn State has a branch campus where Matt attended.
“Where I lived, it was perfect. School was less than a mile away from my house. And Hite was two miles in the other direction,” he explained. “Pretty centrally located for me.”
After the warehouse, Matt worked his way up in the company. He became a sales trainee, after which he went to inside sales. Following that, Hite promoted him to quotation specialist and then to his current position, a centralized inside sales supervisor. In that role, he handles an array of duties.
“I oversee three employees that are centralized here at the corporate location in Altoona. They handle the majority of the day-to-day inside sales,” Matt explained. “I handle a few accounts and I am also part of a small team where we quote our commodity-based projects like conduit and wire.”
Matt is in a position to be both a mentor to some while also receiving mentoring from others.
“We have a diverse team dynamic here with various levels of experience and expertise,” he said. “Two of the guys have 40 years experience between them. I'm still learning from them every day. A third guy is newer to the industry but he is able to provide a different, fresh perspective. It's a nice mixture.”
These days Matt raises his daughter, Cassidy, who is now 15 years old. She had been active in gymnastics for quite a while but has moved on.
“She is into cheerleading now,” Matt said. “In my spare time, I like to get away and go fishing. It's quiet. I like to get away where I don't have cell service and can't always be contacted. You have to be able to shut it down, I feel. It helps me maintain my sanity.”
Q. What advice do you have for other young professionals in the electrical industry?
A. Don't be afraid of change. Embrace change. It is a fast-moving industry and if you're not willing to change you are not going to be successful.
I can't say that I have personally ever faced any roadblocks [to change]. I think it is the attitude. I think it is the attitude and the willingness. If you are not willing to change, you probably won't.
Q. What do you think is the biggest opportunity within the industry?
A. Every company is going to have similar products and similar prices. I feel that the biggest opportunity is in services and that involves relationship selling. I don't think it comes down to who has the bottom line on any single product. It is what type of relationship can you build with your customers and what can you as a company do to better service them and help save the money on the backend instead of on the materials costs.
A lot of people say that the big-boxes—the Amazon Primes—are going to be huge roadblocks going forward. That may be so with certain customers with price being the only reason they're buying something. But I think the relationship selling will always be a huge part of this industry.
Joe Nowlan is a Boston-based freelance writer/editor and author. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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