Area Manager; Border States Electric
By Joe Nowlan
Zach Kincaid had been out of school for a while and working for Republic Services, a waste treatment company based in Lubbock, Texas. At 30 years old, though, Zach was looking for a career change.
“I was looking for a big culture change in a different industry that would be a little more fulfilling for me and that worked well with my home life and for my family,” he explained
In his research he saw that Border States Electric in Lubbock was looking to hire for. After learning about the company, he was impressed.
“I applied for the position and they brought me on board shortly after that,” Zach said. He started at Border States in 2013 as a procurement analyst for its south-central region.
While he started at Border States with several years of corporate work experience, Zach had no electrical industry experience.
“I was definitely lacking in confidence coming in, but it was a great experience having great mentors by my side,” he explained. “They kind of built that confidence in me. We've got enough knowledge and resources within this company that can focus on the product knowledge and the pieces that I wasn't very strong in. What they were looking for was somebody to help manage and run the business efficiently, improve customer service and stuff like that.”
He had a steep learning curve initially, but was willing to embrace the challenges.
“Every day was a challenge because I felt like I was behind the eight ball a little bit in some conversations, not knowing some of the lingo and the language that they were talking about,” Zach explained.
While he came to the electrical industry from a different world, Zach explained that some of what he learned at Republic Services was applicable to his work at Border States.
“For me it has really been the soft skills, the leadership skills aspect of it,” he said. “My skill set that I learned at Republic Services and how to manage a team and how to motivate a team—that soft skill set has really helped me navigate through some of the challenges in the culture that we've been trying to change here.”
Zach is a lifelong Texan, born and raised in Fort Stockton in the western part of the state. He comes from a family of ranchers.
“I grew up working sheep and cattle,” he said. “The great thing about growing up in the ranching business is you learn work ethic early on. You have to earn everything. Your work ethic is a big part of that. I've always enjoyed hands-on work, hard labor.”
Zach and his wife, Tara, have two children: a son, Witten, six; and daughter Kopelyn, three.
It was with his family life in mind that he began working at Border States, an employee-owned company.
“That was the biggest positive impact for me, my family work-life balance,” he said. “Coming to a 100% employee-owned company within this industry has absolutely worked wonders for me and my family and home life.”
Q. What advice do you have for other young professionals in the electrical industry?
A. I would probably narrow it down to three things. What is important to me is to focus on ways to bring value to your customers internally and externally. It's not always about selling a product. But it is important to take time to understand what their pain points are and what is most important to their business. Then find ways that you can bring value to them.
I believe that anyone can sell a product for a price. It is the other things that really matter and if you focus on those things and on being the best at those, then you will really set yourself up for success.
The second thing would be identify and understand the market trends. I talk a lot about understanding what those trends are and figuring out a way that we can partner with our vendors and utilize our resources so we can get in front of the trends. That way when our customers decide to jump on board, they know who to talk to because we have already been there.
And lastly, be willing to do what others are not while maintaining a positive attitude. Take on new challenges and projects and tasks that others shy away from because they either don't have time or it is too much trouble or too stressful. If you can show people that you can adapt, and turn any situation into a positive outcome while keeping a positive attitude, it will increase your business but also strengthen your skill set so you will succeed above others throughout your career.
Q. Where do you see the industry in five years?
A. We are seeing a lot of changes in buying behavior right now with our customers. When you combine that with the fast pace of technology – I think our customers in five years will be looking to distributors to be more of a consultant than just a typical supply house. More and more of the work their contractors are doing involves smart technology. That is evolving so quickly that our contractors are having a hard time keeping up-to-date and keeping their team trained on this stuff. I believe in the future we will be looked at to be the leaders in this arena and educate and consult our customers on what is needed and how to include the latest technology in what they are doing.
We are going to have to be more involved and knowledgeable about the application of the product more than ever before. It will also be the strongest way to combat the competition on the Internet from Amazon, Google, 3D printing capabilities, and the things that they are doing. In order for us to keep ourselves in business and really show the value to our customers, we are going to have to be really good at the consultant piece of what we do.
Joe Nowlan is a Boston-based freelance writer/editor and author. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tagged with 30 under 35, Border States, tED