Kyle Wargo, 28
Kyle was recruited at the Purdue University Sales Management Career Fair during his senior year of undergrad. “I proudly accepted a position in the year-long Sonepar Emerging Leaders Program,” he said. “I liked that the job offered me the ability to advance quickly and how the industry was sort of a hidden gem. Not many people coming out of college saw it as an appealing industry because it didn’t have the brand recognition some of the other companies had, although the jobs offered were better than most.”
That was a little more than four years ago. Kyle spent his first four months in the warehouse before moving on to the front counter and then to his current position as account manager. “I was given customers to cold call and a few small accounts to try and grow,” he recalled. “After working hard and learning from all my team members, I was able to begin to take control of larger accounts.” Today Kyle manages accounts grossing more than $4 million in overall sales (in 2019). “The promotions came through the new accounts that I was assigned to that increased my responsibility,” he noted.
Kyle credits the people in the industry for his continuing interest in it. “Both on the customer side and inside the distribution industry, there are just great people,” he explained. “It doesn’t feel as if I am selling myself or our products, but more that I am building trust and solving problems. I feel a connection with my customers and build many personal relationships that have gone beyond ‘work.’ I enjoy helping my customers solve problems; whether that is getting a part when something breaks down or helping increase production long term.”
The aging workforce is a major problem the industry is currently facing, noted Kyle. “We have employees retiring and their knowledge is very hard to replace,” he noted. “I try to learn from those who have been here for years and years. I have no problem saying that I don’t know something and asking for help from one of our more senior account managers and specialists.” In fact, Kyle credits this help for his success. “Without all of them working as a team with our customers and myself, I would have a fraction of the successes that I have had,” he said. “In Nashville at Irby, it’s our great mix of young talent and experienced sales and specialists that moves us forward in our market.”
Today, Kyle’s focus is on growing his current accounts year-over-year and bringing on new accounts that his company has not previously done work with. “I am sure many accounts managers and sales reps in any industry can attest to the feeling that comes from closing a large deal or landing a new customer,” he explained. “It just makes me want to keep going and keep growing. There is much that I have to learn about the industry as a whole, the products that we sell, and what I will need to do to become a better account manager. With all the help from my peers at Irby, I will achieve my goals.”
To someone entering the industry, Kyle advised: “Learn as much as you can about your industry and the industry and practices of the customers you work with. The number of products that we sell and are expected to know about can be overwhelming. Be like a sponge and absorb everything you can from your team and your customers. If you show your customers and specialists respect and that you are eager to learn, 99 out of 100 will take the time to teach and help you.”
When he’s not at work, Kyle enjoys spending time with friends and family, watching and playing sports, and camping and hiking. “Hockey, football, and baseball have been my lifelong favorites to watch and play,” he said, noting that he’s a huge fan of the Chicago Blackhawks, Green Bay Packers, and Purdue Boilermakers. “I also play the guitar, and though I may not be a Tom Petty, it helps to clear my mind and is something that, like sales, you can slowly see the results if you put in the time and effort.”
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 email@example.com.