People

2018 30 Under 35 Profile: Josiah Letko

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Josiah Letko, 29

Josiah Letko
29
East Regional E‑Business Specialist; Viking Electric Supply

 

Josiah Letko spent his first year after graduating from Concordia University in 2014 trying to find a job, with no success. But then he read about a job opening at Viking Electric Supply.

“It was Viking Electric’s electrical distribution training position,” he said. “I applied for it and two days later I had an interview and was hired three days after that.”

The pace was pretty fast and he soon found things moving even faster.

“I jumped in and during my first week on the job, three of our counter guys moved on to inside roles. So I moved up really quickly. Within a week I was at the counter,” he explained.

Confident about being able to think on his feet, Josiah adapted more each day.

“I may not have had the part number or the part knowledge in mind but I could definitely piece it together,” he explained. “I could figure that out pretty easily and within a month I was comfortable. It was a real trial by fire in the Viking Electric way.”

Josiah continued to increase his product knowledge and impressed his colleagues.

“After a couple of months in the trainee position, my former counterpart in this role moved up to being an account manager,” Josiah said. “He told me it would be a perfect role for me. He encouraged me to apply for it.”

Viking was impressed by the work ethic Josiah brought with him. It’s a work ethic that was especially vital when he took college classes at night while working during the day as a cold beverage service technician for 7-Up.

“I would work 40 hours a week at that and then go to my night classes. I was delivering vending machines and installing soda systems and icemakers during the day,” Josiah explained. “I’d be crawling under nasty, gross bars and then have to go and sit in finance classes at night.”

Josiah’s current title is east region e‑business specialist.

“I’m a digital sanitation engineer,” he laughed. “We deal with as many customers as we can on both the contractor side and the industrial side. A lot of my day-to-day operational stuff is basically trying to be a vendor rep for our internal sales team. I will go location to location in our Wisconsin branches and try to get a pulse on our sales guys. ‘How are things going? Any tools you need?’”

Josiah will also find himself dealing with a certain amount of technology generation gap—people, usually older, Baby Boomer-types, who are set in their ways.

“It’s the digital age now. My biggest struggle every day is convincing older gentleman that the smartphone is here and this digital stuff isn’t going away,” Josiah laughed.

He and his wife, Nicole, have been married for three years. Nicole is the head coach for an area high school dance team. On weekends, Josiah will help her out.

“There are a lot of weekends when I am doing cookouts and things like that for fundraising for the dance team; selling chocolates for the team and things like that,” he explained.

 

 

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

A. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. It requires work ethic, as does any job. I was fortunate enough to learn from an old boss what a good work ethic was. So when I stepped into the electrical world, it was the easiest and coolest job I have ever had. It is less physical work and more mental. But being able to do that knowing that I can do that physical labor or physical work, it makes it much more sweet to be able to have a job like this and appreciate it more. Even the menial tasks. It’s nothing compared to my old job where I would drag a vending machine up stairs every day. That got old real fast!

Q. What do you think is the biggest opportunity within the industry?

A. The biggest opportunity is the need for electrical and the need for energy efficiency. The old panels from the old days were so inefficient. The stuff they’re using now is a fraction of that cost, energy-wise. The smart home has definitely stepped up in the world. So being able to be in a position to offer those types of products to customers, to contractors and to their customers and so on – there is definitely a lot of opportunity in the electrical field to be able to offer some of these cutting-edge technologies, cutting-edge ideas and materials.

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

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