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2022 30 Under 35 Profile: Tyler Ihry

Tyler Ihry, 35
Regional Procurement Manager
Border States Electric

Tyler joined Border States in October 2012 after graduating from Minnesota State University Moorhead. Like many others, he wasn’t looking to get into electrical distribution after college. “My No. 1 goal, to be completely honest, was to land any job, at a good company, where I could prove my worth and gain experience,” he recalled. “A good friend of mine worked at Border States in Fargo, N.D., and encouraged me to look at what they had to offer. When I did, I found a number of people I knew from other walks of life were working there, and every person I talked to had positive things to say.”

Tyler started out as a pricing specialist. “After about a year I moved over to our alliance sourcing team, where we work with contract customers,” he said. “I worked in the sourcing team for roughly six years, where I moved from specialist up to senior analyst.”

In 2019 Tyler left the alliance utility world. “I had the opportunity to start up a new regional cost analyst team as a solo analyst and then supervisor,” he noted. “In April of this year we merged with our regional procurement team, and I was promoted to my current position of regional procurement manager.”

Asked what appeals to him about the industry, Tyler noted that what appeals to him now is inclusive of what originally made him look at Border States and electrical distribution, but also includes much more. “The ESOP culture has been a consistent positive—fostering innovation, ownership in your work, and a feeling of being heard,” he said. “Additionally, this industry is extremely vast and complex. To me this translates to immense opportunities. We deal with thousands of suppliers, millions of products, different customer verticals in different geographies etc. I learn something new every single day and know I will never run out of improvement opportunities.”

Tyler also likes that the industry is critical. “The COVID-19 pandemic was a true testament to the resilience of our industry,” he said. “This industry is critical to the U.S. grid, and any energy future that we have. In addition, a proper mix of business (core markets and geographies) allows us to diversify our business and mitigate risk. This means not only a stable job (security), but also that it’s pretty darn ‘cool’ to help support something so critical to turning our lights on every day.”

Asked about an issue facing the industry today, Tyler pointed to digital transformation. “In the regional procurement role, we are working to enhance our digital technology as it relates to cost management, demand planning, and overall data analytics,” he explained. “By leveraging our immense data to the maximum level, we can get out of the data massaging, and more out of the weeds, and into higher level strategic planning and action-taking.”

He noted that digital transformation will eventually go from optional to mandatory if a company is to continue to grow. “I believe this not only for our customers—who will continue to cycle through to the next generations—but also for the new talent pool working their way into this industry.”

Tyler offered a few pieces of advice for those just entering the industry: “One, that I still think about often is ‘Always do your best; someone is always watching.’ That was one thing my late father always told me that has stuck with me forever. It is the truth. I would also tell them to ask tons of questions. There is so much knowledge in this industry sitting in your company, at your reps, with your customers. The only way you can capture any of that is to ask a lot of questions. Not only how, but why? And, finally, be willing to challenge the status quo. We must respect the way things have been done and seek to understand them. That said, once we feel we know how and why something is done—never be afraid to challenge it for a different way of thinking.”

When he’s not working, Tyler enjoys travelling with his wife and two young boys. “We love exploring all things there are to offer in the Midwest and beyond,” he said. “I’m also a big sports fan. I love watching Minnesota sports (Timberwolves, Vikings, Twins, Wild etc.), as well as my hometown NDSU Bison. Lasty, I love golf. I love playing it and watching it. My dream is to play at St. Andrews one day (I hope my wife reads this for Christmas!).”

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 mbyers@naed.org.


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