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2023 30 Under 35 Profile: Tyler Kuenast

Tyler Kuenast, 30
Branch Lead
Crawford Electric Supply
Tyler has been in the industry for seven-and-a-half years and with Crawford since Sept. 1, 2020, which he joined on as counter/inside sales. He was promoted to branch manager to open the company’s Cedar Park/Leander, Texas, branch at the start of 2022.

“I majored in Industrial Distribution at Texas A&M University, and almost all the larger electrical distributors in Texas recruit heavily out of our program,” he said. “I interned with a competitor my last summer before graduating and was instantly hooked by the blue-collar nature of the industry and the intricacy and technical side of the systems we have a part in building. That’s what continues to appeal to me to this day; I love the people I get to work with, and I feel like I learn something new every day. Whether you’re new to the industry or have been doing it for 30 years, there’s always something new to learn.”

Asked about a challenge currently facing the industry, Tyler pointed to the erosion of margin/margin rates due to increased competition in the form of new brick-and-mortar distributors entering the market and the emergence of e-commerce. “We have a website that we use as a tool to combat the Amazons of the world; I’ve piloted a few different programs within our website to help to continue to improve our digital offerings, and I consistently provide feedback from our customers to our digital team,” he said. “We also provide several different innovative value-added services to our customers to help differentiate us from our competitors, and I try to drive home to our customers that material price isn’t as important as their total cost of ownership of a project. If we are better at servicing our customers and save them money in other ways, it outweighs charging a higher price and we can keep margins up for both us and our customers.”

Looking ahead, Tyler hopes to continue to advance through the management world to a larger branch or area territory-type of role or moving to full time outside sales. “For the manager side I try to have personal relationships with as many people in our organization as I can, especially within our area group. That way if I’m ever asked to move to a bigger role our staff will already know who I am and hopefully have more trust in me from the beginning. On top of that I try to be involved with as many things as I can that impact the company as a whole and not just my branch (manager committees, piloting new programs, etc.),” he said. “As for outside sales, I already act as the outside rep for a few of my branch’s larger customers so learning from those experiences and continuing to develop those relationships with my customers. Also, I’ve worked with quite a few very good outside salespeople throughout my career—as well as a few that weren’t so good. I find that learning from peers who have been there/done that is the best way to continue to progress through your career.”

What would Tyler tell someone just entering the industry? “Knowing where to find an answer is just as valuable as already knowing the answer,” he offered. “It’s not only okay, but also expected that you aren’t going to know everything. There are just too many market segments and types of customers that our industry services for one person to be an expert in all areas of the business. Telling someone ‘I don’t know—let me make a few phone calls and I’ll call you back’ is a perfectly acceptable response, provided you actually call them back.”

Outside of work, spending time with his family is Tyler’s No. 1 priority. “I have a gorgeous wife, a two-year-old daughter, and another daughter on the way due in June,” he explained. “Both my wife and I grew up in the Austin area, so we have a lot of family and friends who live in our area. We also are very active with our church group and participate in service events to help better our community and provide help for those in need. Outside of that my biggest hobbies are playing golf, spending time with friends, spending time at the family ranch, and eating Mexican food.”

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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