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2020 30 Under 35 Profile: Kevin Tran

Kevin Tran, 33
Branch Manager
Border States Electric

Kevin joined Border States Electric—and the industry— in 2013 as a warehouse associate. Shortly after he moved into returns position. “It was during the boom of the oil in the Bakken area in Williston, N.D. Because we had quite a few sales, we also had quite a few returns,” he recalled. “It was a nice way for me to get to know the business system and become familiar with the materials and how our customers like to be serviced.”

Kevin moved from there to the city desk and then into inside sales. “In 2015 we opened another location in Watford City, N.D. I was offered the operation supervisor role and I jumped at the opportunity,” he recalled. That was followed by a branch manager position—more than 300 miles away—in Grand Forks, N.D. A few years later (and another 300-plus-mile move) Kevin now manages the Williston and Watford City, N.D., branches, as well a newly opened branch in Watford City that specializes in pipes, valves, and fittings.

Kevin refers to his time in the industry as “a fun path so far, with a lot of change and continued learning,” despite his “accidental” entry into it. “When I first moved to Williston I was working for a power sports dealership, which became rather dry,” he recalled. “My brother-in-law was working for Border States and told me to check it out—that I would like the job and the company. So, while I didn’t intend on getting into electrical distribution, it’s been a great move for me. The broad spectrum of opportunity appeals to me—you can pick really any career path you want and do it within industry. I really like the opportunity to continue to learn and to grow…and the constant change—this industry evolves faster and faster with every passing year.”

Asked what he sees as the biggest challenges to the industry today, Kevin pointed to the costs of logistics. “The cost to move materials around the country, and the shortage of CDL drivers specifically, continues to be something around which we have heightened awareness,” he said. “Our customers still expect to get the material they need without having to incur extra costs. It’s a large hurdle to overcome.”

Kevin identified “asking questions…continuing to learn, to develop, to challenge yourself to grow and try to outpace how quickly our industry is changing as a whole” as a key to career growth in the industry. “And then, to some extent, viewing my peers and coworkers as my competition,” he added. “I’ve always used that as motivation to become an obvious candidate for future opportunities.” Kevin sees becoming an area director as the next step for him at Border States. “I’d like to continue in a leadership path, taking on more responsibility for a larger geographic area more of a team,” he noted.

What would Kevin tell someone just entering the industry? “Continue to ask questions, absorb as much as you possibly can,” he replied. “Share information and ideas with a network of professionals around you. There’s a culture within our organization—and the industry as a whole—that if you’re willing to ask a question you will find someone who is willing to give you an answer. Seeking out that information, identifying someone who can guide you as a mentor, goes a long way.”

When he’s not working, Kevin enjoys life with his wife and two small children—an almost 3-year-old and a one-year-old. “They absorb pretty much all of our attention now,” he laughed, adding that his hobbies are “the three Fs: fishing, family, and friends—and the nice thing is I can usually incorporate all those things together.”

 

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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