Eric DeMaio, 33
The Yanow Companies
Eric graduated in 2011 from Northeastern University with a degree in Civil Engineering. He then worked as a Project Engineer for a large general contractor for two years. It was after that he found his place at Yanow.
“Eight years ago, our owner participated in a switchgear manufacturer training and was seated beside an impressive, younger individual,” recalled Eric. “After a while, the owner looked at him and asked if he knew anyone like him, explaining that they were positioning the company with a younger generation. He replied, ‘Yes, my old roommate.’ Two weeks later, I accepted a position with Yanow as an outside sales rep, and am now responsible for a portfolio of strategic distributors, contractors, and engineers.”
What about the industry appealed to Eric then—and now? “The career growth path,” he noted. “When I met with the owner during my interview, he discussed the company’s succession plan and an opportunity for the right person. What continues to appeal to me is how our company is in the unique position of equally addressing multiple verticals: from wholesalers, to installers, to specifying influences. Our role is to create demand for our products and services.
“Although price is always a factor in negotiations, it is never the primary driver,” he continued. “We market and specify our products across the multiple verticals. The variety of touchpoints is dynamic and fascinating. We have the ability to influence prospects, and develop relationships, where we help our clients solve problems. This part appeals to me the most, as solving problems has always been my favorite aspect of engineering.”
When asked about a challenge the industry is currently facing, Eric pointed to the aging labor force coupled with a limited amount of talented youth entering the industry. “In speaking with contractors and distributors, there is concern over the knowledge that is retiring, without an ability to backfill,” he explained. “In addition, we are in a homogeneous industry, and I believe we would benefit in more diverse perspectives. I’ve read studies stating the best way to solve challenges is to bring people with different views and skill sets together, so issues can be looked on from multiple perspectives to find the best solution.
“One of Yanow’s strategies is addressing methods of transforming our company culture to meet the expectations of the younger generations, while not compromising our standards in the business,” he continued. “As an example, we created a committee call ‘gen-whY.’ This committee focuses on a multifaceted approach to attract younger talent consisting of continued education, team building activities, company environment improvements, and employee benefits to help foster a productive and comfortable atmosphere.”
Looking to the future, Eric noted that he is on a formal career path at Yanow. “I’m being trained and educated on all aspects the company. While I’m not stepping away from my outside responsibilities, I am entering into learning more about the internal operations. I have begun to invest one day a week analyzing administrative processes, employee retention, and contract negotiation.”
He added that “adaptability, credibility, and a positive mindset,” are key to his career success. “Throughout history it has always been the adaptable that survive, not the quickest or strongest. Change is constant and should be looked at as opportunity. This is true for many reasons, such as resolving issues, building relationships, and constructive approaches. It’s important to always keep a positive mindset. This way of thinking keeps your mind sharp and agile,” he said.
Asked what he would say to someone just entering the industry, Eric said “Work hard and learn. You’ll have the opportunity to become very successful. We are in a unique and enduring industry. There is tremendous room for good people to grow, if you have a passion for the electrical construction vertical. You must be ethical, disciplined, positive, technical, and you have to be on call all the time. We are an industry of exceptions, and every negotiation stands on its own.
“I would also tell them that it’s difficult to begin because you are unconsciously incompetent,” he added. “Slowly you’ll get a grip on what you don’t know. This is when you’ll start plucking away at individual products, negotiations, and relationships. Eventually everything begins to coming together. My boss always gets a kick out of reminding me of a younger, ambitious, and slightly overzealous Eric, who told him that he would have everything figured out within a year… Needless to say, that didn’t happen. I’d say it took five years or so to understand how this business works. Obviously, I still have a long way to go, and I will always have a long way to go.”
When he’s not working, Eric enjoys working on his house, exercise—going to the gym, running, and walking his dog, Hans—and playing golf: “The owner tells me if my handicap is below 12 I’m not working enough,” he laughed, adding “I’m fortunate enough to live a block away from the ocean, so on nice days I grab a beach chair and spend the day under the sun. The beach is my happy place, where I go for those much needed mental health days.”
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.
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