Toby Robin, 33
Vice President of Sales
Toby’s interest in construction started with a position at BE&K Building Group out of Birmingham, Ala. “At the time, I was looking for a way to pay for school and saw construction as an opportunity to make enough money in three months that I could get by with a part-time position during the school year,” he recalled. He spent his summers working shutdowns at paper mills and power plants throughout the Southeast. “As a helper in the engineering group, we spent plenty of time looking over drawings and I found the electrical section the most interesting. My curiosity took over from there and I saw this space as one that would provide a lifetime of learning.”
After graduating, Toby was asked to join Gexpro’s two-year leadership development program.
“Once completing the program, I moved to Knoxville, Tenn., and spent the next year and a half serving as the on-site support for Alcoa’s Alcoa, Tenn., location,” he said, noting that it was at Gexpro that he was introduced to his current boss, Stewart Smallwood. “Within a year of departing Gexpro, I was contacted by Stewart and offered the opportunity to interview at Cerrowire.” In his six years with Cerrowire Toby has served as the business development manager—Eastern U.S., director of sales—Eastern U.S., and, currently, as vice president of sales for the Electrical Distribution Division.
“The industry continues to appeal to me because the cost associated with copper building wire makes it an emotional part of the supply chain,” Toby explained. “Once that trust is developed with your supplier and customer base (and that takes a while), you get access to some of the brightest minds in the industry and develop a unique perspective on the entire construction supply chain.”
Toby added that in his current position his focus and passion has shifted toward working on the business and developing people. “This is my first experience managing mangers,” he said. “It has turned into a passion of how I can improve the way in which we communicate with the industry and help those individuals find success.”
When asked about his future, Toby responded: “We are building something truly special at Cerrowire, and still have a lot of work to do. Ultimately, I would like to run my own organization. Until that time comes, I have a team that continues to develop, pushes me to develop, and provides invaluable insight that encourages future growth for our organization and customer base.”
Toby views labor development and industry interest as two of the biggest challenges the industry is currently facing. “One of the groups that I have thoroughly enjoyed spending time with is ELECTRI International. Based on the results of studies conducted, it is evident that we have a labor interest gap. This concern is shared by many in the industry and continues to the production floor,” he said. “As an organization, we have made a continued effort to get the next generation interested by speaking at schools, starting internship programs, and building an internal development program that promotes hiring from within.”
And what would Toby tell a young person just entering the industry? “Humbly question everything, commit to the industry, and get your hands dirty,” he said. “Some of the most valuable time I have spent in the industry was working Conex boxes on jobsites and learning from those on their tools. Outside of the peer respect this mentality will garner, that knowledge and perspective is invaluable for your understanding of the industry and future growth.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.Tagged with 2020 30 Under 35, 30 under 35, people