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2023 30 Under 35 Profile: Nicholas Hinz

Nicholas Hinz, 32
Manager of Information Systems
Raymond de Steiger, Inc.

Nick joined Ray Electric Supply seven years ago after spending about a year with another lighting distributor. “I joined Ray’s as a counter salesman. I worked in the warehouse and on the counter for about a year and a half before moving into an inventory management role,” he noted. “From there I continued with inventory control and worked with the purchasing and commercial quotes departments. During that time, I also took on a role implementing the ERP system we were switching to at the time, which led me to my current role of manager of information systems.”

Nick describes his entry into the electrical industry as “pure chance”: “I worked as a cigar sales rep after leaving college, but that left little room for growth,” he recalled. “A family friend introduced me to the electrical industry, and I couldn’t help but give it a shot after hearing about the quality of people that I would be around and the opportunity to build a career for myself.”

Asked what appeals to him about the industry, he pointed to the people. “The same thing that appealed to me when I joined Ray Electric Supply is what continues to appeal to me today: the people,” said Nick. “I truly see the team at Ray Electric as family, and I continue to be motivated by the camaraderie and collaboration that is on display at every level and location within our organization. Their dedication to helping one another put our customers first pushes me to put my best foot forward in supporting them however is needed on any given day.”

Nick said that adapting to rapidly developing technology without sacrificing customer service is one of the industry’s biggest challenges. “We pride ourselves on being agile and flexible in order to meet our customers’ needs, but one of the side effects of the power that new ERP systems and technologies offer is the rigidity with which they function,” he explained. “In my position, I am constantly trying to look at our systems differently and develop creative solutions that improve speed and productivity for our team. We’ve been able to transform a lot of what we do by concentrating on small improvements that build up over time. That aggregation of marginal gains has played a role in allowing us to maintain our high standards of service.”

He noted that none of that is possible, however, without an organization filled with people who are willing to embrace change. “I am very fortunate to have a family of co-workers that gives their best effort toward navigating those changes and an executive team that gives me room to fail—which I have done more times than I’d care to admit,” he laughed.

Asked about his career goals, Nick noted that he is ultimately working toward a position on the executive team that will include IT, but also reach out into other areas. “In order to achieve that, I continue to learn,” he said. “Learn more about our company, our vendors, and our customers, and more about how each department and person functions. There is no better way to identify peoples’ needs than by understanding who they are, what they do, and why they do it. I feel that is the best preparation I can do, regardless of what role I end up in.”

To someone just entering the industry, Nick would say to be patient and be open. “There is an immense amount to learn in terms of products and procedures,” he explained. “A lot of that will come with time, but the more open you are to talking to—and learning from—everyone around you, the more successful you will be. Put people first, and the rest will fall into place.”

Outside of work, Nick enjoys spending time smoking meat and working on his side business selling hot sauces and BBQ sauces. “I also enjoy performing music, whether it is with my a cappella group (The Grunyons) or accompanying my wife’s music students on guitar or ukulele,” he said. “I also enjoy collecting bourbon and playing The Garbage Truck Song by Blippi (about 7,000 times) on guitar for my three-year-old son, Gordon, and my one-year-old daughter, Sydney.”

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 2024 program. Questions can be sent to tED Editor Misty Byers at mbyers@naed.org.

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