Project House Manager—Mountain Plains region; Rexel
By Joe Nowlan
Julie Landis entered the electrical distribution industry more than four years ago. Prior to her entry, she had a background in manufacturing, plumbing, electrical subcontracting, and custom home construction.
While working at her most recent company, a water utility in Denver, an electrician friend of hers submitted her resume to Rexel. She was ready for a change.
“I was just looking for something new and different, to find a place where I could really embed myself and have room for opportunity along the way,” Julie explained.
She interviewed with Rexel and was intrigued.
“I was also looking for strong, positive leadership in my professional world. After interviewing, I thought that maybe this industry and Rexel could be the fit that I was looking for,” she said.
Julie was also impressed with the man who interviewed her, her former manager, Jon Callaway.
“He spent a lot of time helping me learn and develop the skills that I needed to be successful here,” she said.
Julie's first reaction to the work in electrical distribution and at Rexel was that she had quite the learning path ahead of her.
“‘Wow, I had a lot to learn,'” she laughed. “It was a little overwhelming, in all honesty, because there is a lot of technical stuff that you need to know whether you are a salesperson or a support person. I needed to not only be able to read plans and one-lines, I also needed to learn product. I needed to understand the value of a distributor in the grand scheme of things.”
She was more than eager to accept the challenge.
“When I don't know a lot about something, it gives me a lot of drive to learn as much as I can,” she explained. “So it was exciting to have a lot of challenges every single day. Each day is different.”
Her current title is Project House Manager for Rexel's Mountain Plains region.
“I cover Colorado and Wyoming—all branches, all customers, and all manufacturing lines,” Julie said. “My team consists of two segments. One part is quotation specialists and the other part is project managers who work to support our salesforce and our branches through strong project support to our customers.”
Last year Julie attended the Working Mother's Multicultural Women's National Conference in New York City and speaks highly of the experience.
“It was amazing being around women that represent their business from a completely different aspect than what I've experienced and trying to learn how to both create diversity and support it from within,” she said. “I learned about what businesses have tried to do in order attract and retain more women and overall diversity into their business.”
Julie and her husband, Marcus, have three children. Their oldest son is Caden (12 years old). Her daughter, Lily, is 10, and the youngest is daughter, Myla, who is 9 years old.
“We love to take the kids skiing, camping, fishing, and to Rockies games,” Julie said. “We try to take at least one annual family vacation and aside from that, simply attending our kids' activities whether it's band, gymnastics or musicals keeps us busy.”
Q. What advice do you have for other young professionals in the electrical industry?
A. There's some advice that has been given to me that would be among the things I would pass on to anyone else. Decide what you won't compromise on in life and relationships and then don't. And don't look for happiness—create it. I look at those two things pretty often, both in my personal life and in my professional life. I think it can be applied to the electrical industry as well. This industry is a very interesting animal. There are lots of gray areas and that is why I think that if you decide what you are not going to compromise on, it will help you get rid of some of that gray area. You can really try to make the best decisions for your business, for your teams and your customers without having to feel like you are wavering.
The industry also tends to be a very fast-paced, high-stress environment. There are times when we will lose people to competitors or to a different industry entirely. Sometimes when we do an exit interview we are told that it is too stressful. So understanding that we are responsible for creating our own positive energies and environments—and the happiness we have within our teams, especially as leaders—are all really important things.
Q. Why are you so passionate about the electrical industry?
A. I guess it is because I feel like I can make a good impact. The more time I spend meeting customers then the more I have an understanding of why we matter to them especially some of the smaller contractors who are mom-and-pop shops. I talk to my team a lot about this as we do our one-on-ones. We have the ability to make or break a customer which can be a little bit scary. So understand that we need to take care of that to the best of our ability. We really do have a lot of power. I take that very seriously.
When I go out to meet with those smaller customers we get a chance to talk about their entire operation, which sometimes consists of only 25 people in the field and a few people in the office and how important it is for us to help them do well and be seen well. I care a lot about that and how we can partner together.
Joe Nowlan is a Boston-based freelance writer/editor and author. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tagged with 2017, 30 under 35, Rexel, tED