Kyle Papesh, 30
Region Procurement Director
Kyle started his Rexel career in 2015 after being recruited out of Purdue into the company’s Distribution and Services Leadership Program (DSLP).
“Those two years on program brought me from Indiana where I grew up to Washington, D.C. and the surrounding Maryland/Virginia metro area,” he recalled. “From there I had a stint at our U.S. headquarters in Dallas and then back to the Midwest in Chicagoland.”
After completing the DSLP, Kyle accepted a newly created marketing analyst position supporting the corporate Supplier Relations organization for a year. “With Rexel’s migration to the regional structure within the United States, I wanted to be closer to the action and took an opportunity on the procurement side and I jumped at a planning and analyst role to support the Midwest,” he said. “Last year I interviewed for and accepted my current position as procurement director in Denver for our Mountain Plains region.”
Kyle admits that his arrival into the industry was pure happenstance. “I was tapped on the shoulder at a career fair while in a long line to speak with another company,” he said. “We had a really good discussion, and I was interested. The role of the industry in several sectors—industrial, construction, infrastructure, renewables, etc.—was a big selling point for me and now, with a few years under my belt, the reach and importance of our industry continues to validate my decision.”
Opportunity has always appealed to Kyle, and he notes it’s a big reason the industry continues to excite him. “The role of the distributer continues to change and that only comes with more opportunity,” he said. “The sense of community is also refreshing in the industry; I’ve been fortunate to have many great mentors and am thankful to have the people around me I interact with on a regular basis. It’s a huge industry with a tight-knit feel and I think there’s something special about that.”
Asked about a challenge currently facing electrical distribution, Kyle said the industry is at an inflection point, particularly at the distributor level. “Clearly the emphasis on digital is becoming more important by the day, then with the influx of new technology, particularly with the push for further electrification of our society (EV, renewables, IOT connectivity) it’s bringing rapid scale and investment. All of that means opportunity for distributers, but it also means competition from outside of the normal channels are sure to follow.
“If you continue to operate with the glass ceiling of what you’ve known and done, I don’t see a way that you won’t be left behind,” he continued. “Consumer preferences are changing, the needs and expectations of value by customers are changing, and more and more I am seeing new entrants to the supplier community who may not understand that value distribution brings—either leading with direct to consumer or retail channel strategies. Everyone needs to adapt.”
Kyle noted that, personally, he’s put a focus on “really being engaged with all stakeholders, internal and external, to understand perception of value, what engagement should look like, and if someone other than Rexel is best-in-class in some way I’d like to understand how. I wear many hats in my role, but PR is a growing one—telling our story and why we should be the distributer of choice and what sets us apart. We have a great story to tell and that certainly helps.”
Additionally, he noted that “Given the supply chain challenges, outside of getting needed material, timely information was a common theme. I have since published quarterly supply chain updates to keep stakeholders informed on the state of everything from logistics to commodities to changing economic conditions both here and abroad. All these things impact our internal teams and partners up the chain to general contractors or end-users. It’s been really well received, and I’ll get inquiries on when I am publishing next as a customer is asking for it. In addition, I host monthly internal roundtables on a variety of related topics (price increases, commodity updates, supplier performance, etc.) and encourage them to be as conversational as possible.”
Kyle has also been very involved in pushing forward what a digital supplier strategy looks like and how Rexel can leverage the information of upstream partners to improve the customer experience. “We have tremendous upside in that department, and it’ll be a true differentiator for us,” he acknowledged.
Looking ahead, Kyle admits that he doesn’t have a singular career goal at this time. “I think I’m where I need to be and not finished on my current mission as a department head and people leader,” he explained. “We’re doing some exciting things with targeted growth segments in the Mountain Plains and territorial expansion. I look forward to being a leader in developing those market strategies and really owning the product and supplier relationships needed to be successful.”
That said, Kyle does maintain focus on personal development. “I am targeting beginning a CPSM or CSCP Supply Chain Professional certification this year and continuing to network with all different folks within and outside the industry to become as well-rounded as possible,” he said.
What would Kyle tell someone just entering the industry? “Advice I was given off the bat and I remember to this day is ‘Hurry up and wait,’ ” he said. “The nature of the program I came into the industry in was to expose me to all facets of the business and due to different needs at the time, some of those rotations were longer than others. That challenged me, my patience in what I thought I could bring to the table. I’m clearly better now for all those experiences and trials and the perspective it has given me when making decisions and interacting with others. Also, be curious and ask a ton of questions. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have great mentors at all my different stops. I wouldn’t be here without their time and investment in helping me connect the dots.”
When he’s not working, Kyle takes advantages of the outdoor activities Colorado offers. “I have definitely taken to most every outdoor hobby out here,” he said. “I love to snowboard; I had an IKON pass bought before I had even secured a place to live. I’m big into hiking and camping, biking, and started fly fishing this summer.” An avid traveler, Kyle has logged trips to the Oregon coast and Greece in 2022. “And I’m lucky enough to have friends in cities from coast to coast, so I’m visiting them when I can,” he said. “I also love music and go to as many concerts as possible. It’s great because bands love coming to Denver and I can take advantage of going to Red Rocks. Finally sports: I love to golf and hoop. Then for better or worse, I’m a huge Purdue and Chicago sports fan.”
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 2023 program. Questions can be sent to tED Editor Misty Byers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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