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2021 30 Under 35 Profile: Andrew Puckett

2021 30 Under 35 Profile: Andrew Puckett

Andrew Puckett, 31
Alliance Specialist
Border States Electric

Like many in this industry, electrical distribution isn’t what Andrew thought he would be doing growing up. “Supply chain in general, and especially electrical distribution, aren’t the ‘flashiest’ of career choices, but they are good ones,” said Andrew. “I’m a huge proponent of ‘Don’t follow your dreams, follow opportunity.’ If you work hard, those opportunities can turn into your dreams.”

Andrew found that opportunity in a supply chain management class he took in college. “Two speakers —Treavor Peterson and Tony Serati (both 30 Under 35 alumni)—came to talk to our class about Border States,” Andrew recalled. “The biggest thing that stood out to me was that the company is employee owned—I loved the idea of being an owner in the company I worked for.” Shortly after Andrew started his career at Border States and, upon graduation, accepted a full-time position as an alliance inventory associate. He then moved into supervising the alliance inventory team.

Looking to round out his experience with the company, Andrew then took an operations specialist role in the Fargo, N.D., sales office. “This eventually lead me back ‘inside’ and I started managing large utility projects as well as facilitating SPAs for our branch.” Andrew then moved into commercial project management (lighting and gear), which lead to an opportunity to supervise the quotations team—a position he held for two years.

When an opportunity arose to get back into the alliance utility world—and to move a little closer to grandparents, as his wife was expecting their second child—Andrew accepted the alliance specialist role he has today. “Here I work somewhere between customer relations and contract compliance with some of our largest customers,” he noted.

Asked about a problem or challenge the industry is facing currently, Andrew pointed to recruiting and retaining good people. “One of the biggest challenges for us is that the industry is slow on the uptake of technology. I think it’s about a decade behind, and many of our customers are 20 years behind,” Andrew explained. “I, and I would say most of my generation, want to work with good tools and technology that is intuitive and insightful. My favorite part of my job isn’t pulling lots of raw data and transforming it into something meaningful; I do that regularly but would much rather spend my time analyzing that data to make impactful decisions.”

When asked about his next career goal, Andrew said the next logical step is alliance management. “It takes my current role and pushes it to the strategic relationship level,” he explained. “It’s a place where you can drive a lot of value in making sure some of our largest customers continue to see the benefits of working with Border States. It also makes sure Border States is doing all it said we could. Of course, there may be other opportunities in the company, but right now that’s what I’m working toward.”

Andrew noted that he is preparing for this next step by actively seeking mentorship in areas where he needs growth and exposure. “I have a development plan with my manager, and we are working it. I’m also working on getting my CLTD (Certified in Logistics, Transportation, and Distribution) from the Association of Supply Chain Management.”

What would Andrew tell someone just entering the industry? “Be humble, hungry, and honest,” he said. “I try to live these principles each day and I think if you take them to heart you will have an exciting career full of opportunity. Be humble enough to learn from everyone. C.S. Lewis said, ‘Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.’ I love that. Being hungry means you are willing to grind and work hard. It doesn’t always mean work harder, but smarter too. Honesty is both with yourself and others. Be honest when something isn’t working. Care about people enough to have honest conversations. If you can do these well most days, you will be on a great path.”

When he’s not working, Andrew spends most of his time with his wife and two young children.

“We like almost anything outdoors—camping, hiking, kayaking, etc.—and sharing that with our kids,” he said. “We also enjoy international travel, but since kids have been more domestic. We’ve been to three of the seven of the wonders of the world and want to see all seven before we are 40—so we’ve got to get on that again soon! We’d love to have the opportunity to expose our kids to other cultures as well.”

 

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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