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2020 30 Under 35 Profile: Austin Rodgers

2020 30 Under 35 Profile: Austin Rodgers

Austin Rodgers, 29
Manager of Business Development, Strategic Accounts
Hubbell Lighting

Like many, Austin didn’t set out to work in the electrical industry. “I went to college in Charleston, S.C., and was working there as a hotel banquet manager,” he recalled. “I loved the work…but didn’t love the downside of working in hospitality: the hours. Every hour that people want to be relaxing, you’re working.” So Austin decided to take a step back “to see if hospitality was really where I wanted to commit my time” and, in 2017, moved back home to Greenville, S.C. “It was supposed to be for a year,” he laughed.

“Hubbell has a great foothold in Greenville, and nearly everybody knows the company,” said Austin. “I knew some people who worked there, and they had only great things to say about it, so I decided to apply.”

Austin started his Hubbell career as a credit specialist. “Eventually I wanted to understand more about what we were selling, so I started sitting in some of the training and found myself intrigued.” To date Austin has held multiple positions at Hubbell—moving from the credit department to outside sales—and was promoted to his current position in October 2020.

Asked what appeals to him most about the industry, Austin replied: “Lighting touches so many different portions of our lives—whether we recognize it or not. A project manager once told me ‘If people notice something’s wrong, we’re not doing our job.’ Everyone notices when the lights are off, but if the lights on—and we’re doing our job—nobody ever thinks about it.”

Austin noted that he is also intrigued by how light affect people. “From circadian rhythm to how we’re starting to tweak blue light to light’s ability to deactivate certain bacteria and viruses—it has such a foothold in life and that really draws me to it,” he noted, adding that he believes the big question now is: Where are we going from here? “LEDs are in the rage of 80% to 90% efficiency, so what can we do in our industry to continue to have it at the forefront? There are some really cool technologies that are emerging—wireless, controls—but the challenge we’re going to face at some point is where are we going to go next?”

When it comes to his future in the industry, Austin, who recently earned his CLCP Certification from NALMCO, stands by the adage “Knowledge is power.”

“I know I’m not the first person to say it, but staying on top of trends and innovations and being conscious of what it all means for the end-user—and finding a way to convey it in layman’s terms—is where I come in,” said Austin.

To someone just entering the industry, Austin advises: “Come in eyes wide open. It’s such a huge industry that you can create whatever path you want. Challenge yourself to find where you think you could make the most impact and go from there.”

Asked about his career plans, Austin recalled a phrase he first heard from his father: “‘Be content but not complacent.’ Be content with where you are, be happy and absorb everything that’s happening around you,” he explained. “Learn from it, but don’t get to the point where you’re not constantly looking to evolve. A five-year goal for me would be making it to a director level—and continuing to climb—but I want to make sure that before I make that next step I’m absolutely on a solid foundation of knowledge and experience.”

When he’s not working, Austin’s focus is on friends, family, and exercise. “I enjoy running and participate in the Cooper River Bridge Run 10K, a big annual event in Charleston,” he noted, adding that he also enjoys visiting the city’s microbreweries—although COVID has made that more difficult. “When everything is normal it’s definitely exercise, hanging out with friends, and going out for a nice beverage somewhere.”

 

Each year tED magazine recognizes 30 of the industry’s best and brightest under the age of 35. Please visit tedmag.com/30Under35 for nomination information and updates about the 2021 program. Questions can be sent to tED Editor Misty Byers at mbyers@naed.org.

 

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