Operations Manager, Butler Supply
By Joe Nowlan
In 2008, Brandon May was laid off from his job in an automotive supply dealership in Rolla, Mo.—but he ended up turning that bad day into a positive career boost.
“I had to take whatever was out there,” Brandon explained. “My grandparents actually sniffed out a little newspaper article and drop it off at my house and said, 'This Butler Supply is hiring here in Rolla, looking for a driver.' I'd worked in auto-parts most of my life and I looked at it and thought that I could do that. I started as a driver and just moved through the different roles.”
His auto parts background, and being somewhat familiar with work in a warehouse, gave him a bit of a comfort zone when he moved into electrical, he explained.
“In my eyes it was the same thing I had been doing, but it was different material. It was electrical, and in our case plumbing, versus car parts,” Brandon explained. “It is just pulling stuff and delivering it to customers. The more I did it, the more I learned.”
He started at Butler's Rolla location in 2009. While the work at Butler met his short-tem requirements of “finding a job,” Brandon soon began to realize that the electrical distribution industry could end up being a career, rather than just a temporary landing spot.
“To me, in the beginning, it was a job. But the more I did it, the more I started enjoying it,” he said.
Brandon moved up in the company and was eventually made manager of that Rolla warehouse.
“In Rolla, I was managing people older than me. I took over on some projects and re-laid out and redesigned the whole warehouse, made it more streamlined and easier to manage pulling orders and keeping everything organized. And everybody there was tenured and had been there a while,” he explained.
That required a period of adjustment, both for Brandon as well as some of those warehouse employees.
“I'm working with guys who were older than my dad. And I'm supposed to be keeping them going and asking for their help,” he explained. “It was awkward for a while. But I would say that it all worked out.”
He is currently the operations manager at the Butler branch in Columbia, Mo.
“Columbia is a larger market. They brought on a new branch manager and me as operations manager. We started on the same day,” he explained. “We are electrical and plumbing. The majority is residential construction. We have some bigger apartment complex jobs and hotels going now. But the majority of what we do is residential.”
Brandon and his wife Angela have three children: a son, Connor, who is 15 years old. A daughter, Kayley, is 12 and youngest son, Camden, who is seven years old.
When he has time for hobbies, he has become quite good at smoking various meats, he said.
“I have a couple of smokers and I guess you could call that my hobby. Other than that it's just sports all the time with the kids. Football, track, among others,” he said.
Q. What advice do you have for other young professionals in the electrical industry?
A. I would say to learn as much as you can. First and foremost, worry about yourself and don't worry about other people. Keep your nose down and the more you learn, the better off you will be and the faster you will move through the company if you want to.
Here at our branch, we are constantly watching the market to look at what people are buying and making the judgment call on whether we need to have it or don't need to have it in stock. We have more new item requests than any other store in our company and if we don't have it, there will be someone else in this town who will have it. If we want to keep our customers happy, we need to have what they want every time.
Q. What do you think is the biggest opportunity within the industry?
A. I would say that lighting is huge. There are a lot of rebates out there. There is a ton of business with parking lot lighting and retrofitting existing fixtures. That is a huge area of untapped potential and money out there.
Joe Nowlan is a Boston-based freelance writer/editor and author. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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