2017 30 Under 35 Profile: Brian Rooney

Brian Rooney, 28

Brian Rooney
Branch Manager, Crescent Electric Supply

By Joe Nowlan

Brian Rooney graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in marketing. While there he played hockey and was good enough to be able to consider a possible career in the sport.

“I had the opportunity to keep playing professionally in Europe. But I ultimately decided that minor league sports wasn't exactly for me and I was kind of ready to get into the workforce,” Brian explained.

He'd worked for another electrical distributor while in college, he explained, and liked what he saw of the industry.

“I went to work for Crescent in their corporate management training program. I came back to Chicago area where I went to high school and I've been working for Crescent ever since,” he said.

It is the opportunity to work on the country's overall infrastructure that attracts Brain to the work. And seeing the tangible results of that work, he explained.

“I have always been somewhat romanced by the idea of contributing to the country's infrastructure. I like the idea that the things we do in this industry actually has a tangible effect on the country and the world,” he said. “We contribute to everything from manufacturing to large commercial buildings, residential projects, etc. And I thought that was really cool, that you can actually see the work that you're doing out in the world.”

As branch manager, Brian manages 17 people at Crescent Electric's McHenry, IL facility.

“Our business is a pretty good mix of both industrial and commercial customers,” he explained. “We do quite a bit of OEM/MRO and a lot of work with contractors in the northern Illinois area. That is a pretty cool thing too because we have such a great mix. This keeps our business very diverse. So if one sector of the industry is lagging, we can lean on the other sector to help us push that forward.”

That varied customer base also means a constant need to keep up on new product lines and innovations.

“The technology advances in the industry since I started full time five years ago have been incredible. You look at lighting with LEDs and the cost of LEDs have gone down so much because the technology has improved so quickly,” Brian said. “You look at some of the industrial automation capabilities we now have with some of our manufacturing customers. It's amazing how efficient they are and how much more volume they can produce. The technology is just moving so fast that you have to stay on top of it. If you're the first guy in a new technology that can really provide a service, then people will associate you with that product and that service. That is something we try to do.”

He is single and while he doesn't play as much hockey these days, Brian is an avid rugby player with a semi pro club in Chicago, the Chicago Lions.

“We just celebrated our 50th anniversary a few years ago,” Brian explained. “They picked 'Lions' for the name after a team called the British & Irish Lions, a collection of the best professional players from the British and Irish teams.”

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

A. My advice is to jump on every opportunity that comes their way. Don't be afraid to take a chance on something that they believe in whether it is a different vertical or different company or a different type of customer. Go with your first instinct. That would be number one: take opportunities and take chances.

Number two, don't be afraid to put yourself out there. There are going to be a lot of changes happening in the industry moving forward. So they need to be able to put themselves out there and believe that they can make a change. There is going to be a lot of leadership positions opening up in the next few years. I think they really need to put themselves out there and have confidence in their abilities.
Number three is the knowledge. Make sure they are staying on top of everything and that they are learning all the new technologies and keeping up with all the different trends whether it is e-commerce marketing or different things that are going on in our industry. That is something they need to stay on top of because this industry is going to look very different in the next 10 to 20 years. We are going to have to really stay on top of that.

Q. What industry-related books, websites, blogs, social media do you follow regularly and why (aside from tED and NAED materials)?

A. One website I check every single day is It is a listing of the top business stories for the day. It is just headlines so you scroll down and click on a headline that you think looks interesting and it will send you to the link for the article. Jittery keeps you up-to-date on all types of business stories and things like that.

As far as industry-specific, there is one book that I refer to as my Bible essentially and is a general sales book that's been around forever: “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. I'm sure a lot of people heard of it.

Another book that I found fascinating that would be great for some of the folks out there who do business internationally is “The Culture Code” by Clotaire Rapaille. It talks about how to interact with people in different countries and in different age groups and what the code to those specific cultures is. And how to navigate those and some things to keep in mind.

I read that book in college and I found it really, really interesting. If I ever found myself in an international business setting I'm sure I'd be carrying it with me all the time.

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


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