tED magazine is launching a new series of stories that are completely the work of our past “30 Under 35” winners. We are calling this series of articles “Better Together.” Past “30 Under 35” winners came up with the topic, and then they wrote the articles. Instead of doing traditional interviews and taking small parts of what they said for our stories, “Better Together” allows the next generation in our supply chain the opportunity to let you know how they see the industry in the future, how they see it taking shape right now, and what they would like to see happen so it remains strong and vital throughout their generation.
This article comes from Josh Rowley, Inside Sales/Counter Sales Manager at Blazer Electric Supply.
When I think about the next generation of leadership within our industry, the first couple of things I think about is adaptability and then, simply put, hard work. When you take into consideration all the changes with energy efficiency, e-commerce, and new innovative products we must be adaptive to stay in the game with these changes.
The term “energy efficiency” is used all around us everywhere you turn and look. Within this industry, the first thing that comes to mind in energy savings for our customers is lighting. As electrical distributors, we all seem to adapt to changes very well in that category. However, I feel not enough of us take advantage of other energy saving opportunities such as motor control, load management or monitoring systems, to name a few. If we can present these other opportunities to our customers, then that can help set us apart from the rest as leaders in this industry.
Use e-commerce for informational purposes only. Offer your customers the convenience and quick access to retrieve information as they need it on the fly. That is a huge benefit for them and also for ourselves. In this industry, it is my experience that our customers prefer human interaction over online purchasing and I don’t see a change in that. Customers need to have the best customer service this industry has to offer and an e-commerce website cannot offer that. I don’t believe electrical distribution should attempt to compare ourselves to Amazon or any other similar online ordering sites. We adapt buy offering these services but we cannot submit to it. If we submit, then we lose true value to good old-fashioned customer service and, in my experience, that is what really matters. People working with people is what makes this industry thrive.
As leaders, it is crucial that you and your staff does not get too comfortable selling the same simple commodity products day after day. Our industry is not just a pipe, fittings and wire industry anymore. Those types of products will get you by today, but what about tomorrow? New products are being released every day. It is our job to do our homework on these products as they become available. These new products’ primary focus seems to be based on labor savings. If we can understand these products and present them to our customers, then we are offering a service to them and also a great product. It is time to offer services like this rather than just material only. Customers can go anywhere just to buy material.
Without adaptability, as a leader you will be the captain of a sinking ship. It takes hard work to acquire leadership skills and adaptability. Change in the industry is happening right now and will keep on changing. We as leaders must be receptive to these changes and forecast it well before it lands on our doorstep. We must adapt to it and one of the best lines of defense is knowledge. Take advantage of the training programs NAED has to offer. Take advantage of the training courses available through IMARK to keep you in the loop on new innovative products.
Knowledge of these new products and hard work as a leader will influence the people you work beside. Lead by setting an example and others will follow. If a leader can work hard for the people around them, those people will in turn work even harder. Late great NFL Football Coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Contrary to the opinion of many people, leaders are not born. Leaders are made, and they are made by effort and hard work.” What I take from that quote is if you can influence the people around you to want to work harder and apply themselves to be better, then that is what makes you a good leader. With the combination of being a true leader like that and the ability to be adaptive, those two things will set you apart from the rest.
This topic, along with many others, will be discussed during the roundtable discussions and panel session at the upcoming NAED LEAD Conference in Chicago on July 20-22. We strongly recommend you send your young, up-and-coming stars to this year’s conference. You can register by clicking here.
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