Quotations/Inside Sales; Dakota Supply
By Joe Nowlan
It could be said that Mike Grossman was still a child when he first heard about electrical distribution in general, and Dakota Supply in particular. Both his parents worked at the company.
“I didn't know specifically what they did but I heard all the time about working there,” Mike explained. “So I knew it was a good place to work.”
After going to college for a year, he started working construction. While he liked it he knew he was better off looking at more of a career.
“I had been working construction but wanted to settle down and start a career rather than working hourly construction,” Mike explained.
With that, he applied and started at Dakota Supply even though, he now admits, he knew little about the actual work being done there—despite those conversations at home.
“I really had no idea of what I was getting into,” he said. “I definitely didn't realize the amount of product that went through the warehouse. It was pretty eye-opening, all the different lines they have to stock and all the part numbers you have to memorize.”
At first he wondered if he would ever learn all of that product information.
“Oh yes,” he laughed, looking back. “Multiple times!”
His current title at Dakota Supply is quotation specialist/inside sales.
“I do anything from taking specified public bid projects to taking a phone call to getting an order for light bulbs and wire. Pretty much anything,” Mike said. “We do lighting layouts, lighting quotes—all that stuff falls into our realm around here.”
While Dakota offers a wide-ranging menu of products, much of Mike's focus these days is on lighting.
“We're pretty much all over, but lighting takes up a lot. With layouts, it can be very time-consuming so we take time to figure out how you get the layout of room or a warehouse or anything like that,” he said. “And then price-quote the fixtures that you'd use.”
But the consistent and almost constant upgrading in lighting can result in a delicate balancing act when it comes to ordering inventory, he explained.
“It's really hard to keep up. If you aren't willing to learn you're going to be left behind especially when we're trying to figure out what stock to bring in on the shelves because it changes so much,” he explained. “You bring in one product and then something new comes out and you can stock six different products that are going to do the same job.”
Mike and his wife Lisa have two children: a son, Jack, 5 years old, and daughter Claire who is 3 years old.
When he has time, Mike has a couple of hobbies, depending on the North Dakota seasons.
“We have a softball team here that I play on,” he said. “In the winter I enjoy curling. We have a club here that opens in the winter months. It's a nice facility. We try to make time for hobbies, but now with the kids getting into their own extra curriculars with T-ball and swimming lessons and stuff like that, it is getting harder and harder.”
Q. What advice do you have for other young professionals in the electrical industry?
A. You definitely have to have a willingness to learn. Don't be afraid to fail. That is a big part. And take the opportunities when they are given to you, that's for sure.
They know that mistakes are made and that no one is perfect. Don't lose a lot of sleep over it. That is basically what you're hoping to do.
Q. What has been the most rewarding aspect of working in this industry?
A. Just building relationships with customers. Having guys where you feel you are more than just a salesman to them. That is definitely something that you can take home. Then also, the coworkers here are great.
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, dakota supply, tED