People

2017 30 Under 35 Profile: Alejandro Berner

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Alejandro Berner, 35

Alejandro Berner
35
Sales Director, Bricos

Alejandro Berner’s first exposure to the electrical industry came at home. His father founded Bricos in Monterrey, Mexico, 40 years ago.

And while he worked part-time over the years, it was never something that was over emphasized to him. In fact, once his father got home, any focus on the business ended. Even when Alejandro started working there full time some 10 years ago.

“He wanted to keep the business in the office and the family in the house,” he explained. “We would discuss topics about the business on our way home but as soon as we got home and got out of the car, he would say, ‘Now we need to switch it off and now we focus on the family.’ So for me that was a way of understanding that you have to have a good balance between our lives and work relationships.”

When he started at Bricos after college, Alejandro knew it was something he wanted and not just because it was the “family business.”

“I always knew that it was something very appealing to me—the industry, the products, the business side of it,” he said.

In terms of potential areas of growth, Bricos has added more lighting products over the years, he explained.

“We read a report from the NAED maybe seven or eight years ago on how the typical large electrical distributor split up their product lines. We saw lighting was a big part of their business,” Alejandro said.

Bricos had made a few attempts at adding lighting in the past, he explained, but did not get the desired results. Bringing in a lighting expert was their first move.

“We already had the customers in place here. We were already servicing them with other products. So I saw there was an opportunity there,” Alejandro explained. “The electrical market is so fast-moving with a lot of innovations, as much as any startup in Silicon Valley. And lighting is a very good example.”

Alejandro graduated from the Monterey Institute of Technology. Education was always important in the Berner household, he said. In fact, that is one aspect of his home life that his father did, in fact, bring into the Bricos workplace.

“We have always been very focused on developing ourselves. That is something we brought from the house into the office. We have been helping our people grow and develop their education as well,” he said.

The company has established a scholarship program for its employees, Alejandro explained.

“We have people who started with us with not even a high school degree and now they have their college degrees. We have people already studying for their masters degrees,” he said.

Alejandro and his wife Jessica were married in 2016. In his spare time he has been running and training for marathons.

“When I first joined the company people here took me out running. We have a very large runners club here. They took me on my first 6 mile run and I got hooked on it.”
Since then Alejandro has run the Miami Marathon and in 2014 he and his brother ran the Chicago Marathon.

 

Q. What advice do you have for other young professionals in the electrical industry?

A. I would say regardless if it’s just the electrical industry or anywhere in general – you have to have your set of values very clear on what you want to do and what you are willing to do as a person and as a professional. Don’t be willing to sacrifice any of it for the advancement of your career. I think if you are determined and trying to do good—regardless if anyone is watching or not—I think that would be good advice.

You also need to be willing to adapt to change and to persevere. Today more than ever you need to be willing to work in teams to collaborate and share experiences and knowledge and be willing to rely on others and to trust other people. I think those are critical aspects that in today’s environment you have to have.

People are looking for how to grow and how to advance in their careers. So for me, working with everyone regardless of their background and their upbringing, that is something you have to have nowadays.

Q. What has changed the most in the industry in the past five years?

A. I think speed has changed everything. It is not only a matter of price anymore. Price is always important. And quality and performance are very important as well. But I think speed is the biggest difference.

People are faster to change to new conditions, to be closer to the customers and to be able to adapt faster to their needs. That’s what really sets you apart from the competition.

It goes beyond answering or replying to an email faster. I think it is making the tough decisions faster. You need to decide if you are going into a project or not, if you going to give a customer credit or not. Before, you could take more time analyzing those decisions. Nowadays you need to be very fast in deciding that.

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Joe Nowlan  is a Boston-based freelance writer/editor and author. He can be reached at jcnowlan@msn.com.

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