Energy specialist, Springfield Electric Supply
Andrew Verderber was first exposed to the overall electrical industry as a child. His father was an electrician for City Water Light & Power in Springfield, IL.
Andrew would occasionally accompany his dad when he would wire someone’s house or perhaps when troubleshooting something in their family home.
But it was actually in high school that Andrew first began to think about a career in electrical, albeit one in a different sector.
“A teacher in high school told me about a program at Illinois State University that involved the economic side plus the technical aspect of solar energy,” he said.
He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in renewable energy and also continued his studies to earn his MBA. Andrew said that, in part, the roller-coaster market for solar was why he went after the MBA.
“I got an MBA so I didn’t completely paint myself into a corner,” he explained. “I knew it would elevate me and help me in doing solar, because of what they call the ‘solar coaster’ if you will; the ups and downs, peaks and valleys of the solar market.”
Peaks and valleys aside, the solar market for Springfield Electric has been steady and strong, Andrew said. And that hasn’t been accidental as the company has made solar a major focus.
“Our main customer base is contractors we have done business with for years. The value we provide is staying informed about product and various incentives to ensure they are providing the end user with an optimal system and ROI for their needs,” Andrew explained.
Beyond the essential product and technical knowledge, Andrew and Springfield Electric strive to perform other important services rather than only delivering solar products on time.
“We help with our knowledge as opposed to contractors just hiring someone with that knowledge base and experience,” Andrew said. “We can partner with them and provide that as a service and not just be order takers, saying, ‘OK, here’s your material.’ And then we’re helping with the design and specifying all the technical stuff. So you wear a lot of hats.”
Andrew was born and raised in the Illinois area. Single, he enjoys golf and, when possible, snowboarding.
“I’ll go out west to snowboard or take some groups of friends to Cascade Mountain up north,” he explained.
While having the time for a full round of golf is difficult, he still manages to hit the ball occasionally.
“I can go to the driving range and just clear my head for half an hour,” he explained.
Working in an energy-related field is actually a bit of a family tradition, Andrew explained.
“It’s kind of interesting, since my dad is an electrician. And actually my great grandpa ran a coal mine too,” he said. “So I’m trying to carry on the legacy, but taking a more sustainable path, if you will.”
And that high school teacher who first encouraged Andrew in to studying solar and renewable energy?
That teacher reached out to Andrew to design the solar system in his home.
“We finished the project in December, 2018,” Andrew said proudly.
Q. What advice do you have for other young professionals in the electrical industry?
A. I recommend any kid in high school and early college—before they get into internships—work in the food industry. If you do, you’ll always have a respect for those working in any industry. I worked for Jimmy John’s in college and they stressed taking the hardest tasks and going through them yourself. So whether that’s cleaning the bathrooms or cleaning the dirtiest dishes, you should be a leader and take that on yourself. And know every aspect of the operation.
For me, working with these solar materials and moving it all around can take some planning. You need to communicate with the warehouse and who is picking these orders and lugging all this heavy material around.
So I try to go out to the warehouse every five orders or so and help them pick the material. Then I can better understand the problems they face as well as our drivers. I can then relay that to our operations managers and branch managers. They in turn appreciate that there are a lot of parts and pieces involved. I’m seeing that design and I can see how it all went together. I think it’s helped with order-picking accuracy.
Q. If a young millennial were to ask you about the electrical industry, what would be your answer? How would you respond?
A. Well, it seems like once you’re in, it’s hard to get out (Laughter). But there is always some way to continually improve. I feel like if you’re not being challenged somehow, then it’s your own destiny to make it as challenging and interesting as you want. There are just so many facets to it. So if I got burned out on it, then I could move into marketing or move to operations. There are so many different avenues that you can move laterally or up to.
And that makes people stay. I mean, my company being part employee-owned and still owned overall by the founding family too. That’s huge. Seeing that sense of pride of what was built before us and how we can continue that legacy and that culture. That keeps me around. Friends of mine in the computer industry, after six months to two years, might move on to another company.
Tagged with 2019, 2019 30 Under 35, 30 under 35