Southeast Regional HR Manager; Border States Electric
By Joe Nowlan
Shane Woerner explains that it was more or less “by coincidence” that he landed in the electrical industry.
In 2012, he was working for a recruiting firm in Charlotte, N.C., in addition to doing some freelance content writing for small businesses. But he was looking for something more stable where he could grow a career.
“I had a list of all of the HR managers and hiring managers in the greater Charlotte metro region. So I sent my resume out to the people on that list,” Shane said. “Shealy Electrical had an opening to help develop a leadership development training program. So I came in and helped write some content and my role expanded from there to include other areas of talent management like recruiting, training development, etc.”
Shane continued to work there and in 2016 Shealy was acquired by Border States.
“With the acquisition by Border States, I picked up additional HR responsibilities, plus now manage my region's group of leadership trainees,” he said.
Shane wasn't very aware of the overall electrical industry before he began working in it. That's a reaction he has seen in many people when he explains the industry to them.
“It is not well known to the general public. You don't see a lot of advertising on billboards or commercials. I had never heard of Shealy or Border States or any other distributor before I started,” he explained. “So it was interesting learning about a large segment of the business world that flies under the radar a little bit.”
While not working in sales, he nonetheless was curious to absorb all he could.
Shane carried his learning experience over to taking several EPEC courses even though he was not going to be specifically working in sales or customer relations.
“I did it to demonstrate that somebody who isn't even heavily involved with external customers can complete the EPEC program,” he said. “Also, as I was overseeing Shealy's EPEC program, I wanted to be able to assist other EPEC students whether by helping them answer a question or providing some best practices.”
He also realized that he was behind in knowing the various terms and their definitions.
“I wanted to learn the terminology—a lot of those terms at first were way over my head. We'd be working with the trainees and I really wouldn't understand how it would apply or how it fit together.” he said. “I know it's also improved my recruiting abilities because I understand a little bit more and can ask candidates more in-depth and strategic questions to help us make smarter hiring decisions.”
A native of Pittsburgh, Shane has lived in the South for over half his life, he explained. He graduated from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington.
“But I still identify with all the Pittsburgh sports teams,” he said.
He enjoys traveling when he can. He has been to 49 of the 50 states with the exception of Hawaii.
“I never would've thought I'd make it to the Dakotas before I visited Hawaii. But with the acquisition by Border States, suddenly I've become well acquainted with Fargo,” he laughed.
Q. What advice do you have for other young professionals in the electrical industry?
A. I would say learn as much as you can about everything. Ask questions and try to find out why things are done a certain way. If you think there is a better approach, don't be afraid to offer up a solution. Regardless of what position you are working in, try and learn what goes on in the warehouse, at the counter, within corporate departments. The more knowledgeable you are, the better equipped you will be to provide a superior level of customer service to customers internal and external alike.
Q. What do you think is the biggest opportunity within the industry?
A. To continue finding labor-saving solutions. I think that is one of the big things – cutting down the amount of time that jobs take to be completed. Find ways to make the customer's life easier and save them time or money. I think that is universal, regardless of the job market or market segment they are in. Secondly, I believe the clean energy market will continue to grow as the demand for smarter, less environmentally impactful products increases. Lighting retrofits, energy-saving controls, solar—these products and solutions can offer high margins and big opportunities.
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, Border States, tED