Chas Lehman, 24
Viking Electric Supply
Chas began his career with Viking Electric in 2019, a few weeks after graduating from the University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire (UWEC). “I started as an Electrical Distribution Trainee, a trainee program that lasts about 18 months and guides associates through every aspect of the business,” he explained. “In January 2020, I was offered and accepted an account rep role at our Eau Claire branch and have been in that role since.”
Chas learned about Viking Electric during a UWEC job fair in early 2019. “What appealed Viking Electric to me was the day I walked in for my interview and tour, everyone went out of their way to make me feel welcome,” he recalled. “Everyone I talked to mentioned the ‘family-like’ environment that Viking—Eau Claire offers, and they were all very happy with the work they do and how the organization is ran. What continues to appeal to me is how the industry is evolving and how lucrative the industry is. The fact of the matter is that the electrical industry isn’t going away any time soon, and I look forward to how the future of technology will evolve the industry even further.”
Asked about a challenge the industry is currently facing, Chas noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has created many struggles for the industry over the past year and a half, but the one that continues to linger is the affect it is having on the supply chain. “Many suppliers have been met with a demand the dramatically outweighs the supply,” he explained. “In my position, it’s important to keep up to date on these struggles by communicating with suppliers and taking that information and passing it along to customers to keep them in the loop. Honesty and transparent communication to suppliers and customers is crucial in times like this.”
Looking ahead, Chas said his next career goal is to become an account manager at Viking, “which I plan for in the next five years,” he said. “I’ve been preparing for it by shadowing my account manager to see how his day-to-day work is handled and what the workload is like. I’ve also been doing a lot of product trainings to get myself more familiar and comfortable with the products we sell on a daily basis.”
His future growth in the industry will happen “by continuing to learn and understand trends and developments within the industry and correlate with how it will affect my customer base,” said Chas. “By doing this, I will be providing them guidance and assistance on the operation of their business to make them more profitable, instead of just being a salesman who is focus on my own success.”
To someone just entering the industry, Chas has this advice: “Be comfortable being uncomfortable. That’s the motto I had coming into this career, as I came in with no knowledge on the industry, and the motto I continue to carry with me.”
When he’s not working, Chas enjoys golf, hunting, fishing, and grilling. “Mostly I like spending time with family and friends and enjoying the outdoors,” he said.
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.
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