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Contractor’s Corner: Bridging the Generation Gap

By Jim Williams

Welcome to the initial Contractors’ Corner for 2015! We wanted to start the year out with an interesting topic – Spanning the Generation Gap between Distributors and Contractors. Our goal isn’t to offend anyone. We have a legitimate situation. Typically, sales staffs at many distributors are trending older. While conversely, contractors are getting younger. 

For the old guys (Distributors in this scenario) change isn’t always welcome. Many of them have been set in their ways and don’t want to adopt the new way of doing business, especially through web-based sales or using apps to make purchases. So what is happening is this: the old guys, sorry – experienced salespeople, don’t want to change their way of doing business. The new guys do. 

We brought this circumstance to our reliable Contractors’ Corner contributor, Spenser Villwock, MNM, LEED AP and CEO of the Independent Electrical Contractors – Rocky Mountain (IECRM). We asked to weigh in on the debate the generation gap.

“We see the effects of different generations in our electrical industry every day,” Spenser starts. “Within our companies, within our crews, and within our relationships with other business partners, including electrical distributors,” Villwock continues.

“As we all know, the key traits to any strong relationship are solid communication and going for a win-win at all costs. One of the wedges between the different generations in today’s industry is a result of technology, which has dramatically changed and continues to change how business is conducted. 

“Some of us believe strongly in a good old face-to-face meeting to discuss business, whereas others really prefer an email or even a text to keep a deal moving. In a customer service position, it is really critical to understand your customer’s preferred method of conducting business and doing your all to be able meet them on their terms. Sometimes this means that we need to get out of our comfort zone and learn a new tool or program. But the successful folks in our industry will always rise to the occasion and do what it takes to get the job done and make the customer happy.”

For over 30 years, the Independent Electrical Contractors Rocky Mountain (IECRM) has been the leading electrical and renewable energy contractor association in Colorado and across the nation. Operating in 53 different areas across the United States and representing 215 member companies responsible for $2B annually, and educating over 725 electrical apprentices and licensed electricians annually, IECRM is dedicated to educating, promoting, and advancing the electrical industry.

Spenser Villwock, CEO of IECRM, is keenly focused on keeping contractors at the cutting edge of the energy industry through innovative skills training and workforce development. He works with both contractors and distributors. Villwock holds a Master’s Degree in non-profit management (MNM), LEED-AP (Existing Buildings) accreditation, and an undergraduate degree in English Literature. With professional experience in leveraging market demand, political advocacy, environmental issues, philanthropy, leadership development, capacity building, and running two start-up companies, Spenser is an authority on developing community programming and policy to maximize impact. 

Find out more about Spenser Villwock and IECRM at iecrm.org 

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