tED’s 30 Under 35: Meet Billows Electric Supply’s Mike Yarabinee

By Joe

In April, the editors of tED magazine sent out a call for
the industry’s “rising stars”—electrical professionals 34 years old or younger
who have the initiative, drive, integrity, and creativity to move the industry
forward in the decades to come. The call drew nominations from all segments of
the industry—distributors, suppliers, rep firms, software/services providers,
and VARs. Here on, we will post a new, full interview with one of
these impressive young people weekly; coverage of all of the honorees can be
found in the July 2012 issue
of tED
. Watch for information about our next “30 Under 35” competition  in
early 2013.

years ago, Mike Yarabinee was attending high school in Runnemede, N.J., when he
first heard about the electrical industry and Billows Electric Supply.

classes ended, he’d go to his part-time job at the nearby Billows location. His
older brother also worked at Billows and had good things to say about his
experience there.

“When I was
18 or 19 years old, it certainly wasn’t something that I thought would be
permanent,” he explained. “Of course, at that age, you never know what you’re going
to do when you get older.”

He worked at
various Billows locations in a variety of positions, including warehouse
manager. Gradually, he found that the industry grew on him. He liked the
challenges that each role held for him.

“I figured
that the more I got into it, the more involved I was, the more I learned … then
the more valuable I would be,” Yarabinee said. “And that’s paid off. I think
they look at me today as a go-to guy.”

As the
counter manager at the Haddon Heights, N.J., location, Yarabinee and his staff
realize that their No. 1 responsibility is customer satisfaction.

“We make
sure that the customers who come in are taken care of. We want them to leave
here wanting to come back,” he explained. “We want them thinking, ‘When I went
to that place, that gentleman went out of his way to take care of me.’”

A company
like Billows keeps its eye on the big-box stores in the New Jersey area. Yarabinee
well knows that’s where his main competition exists.

“We want customers
to spread the word: ‘Go to Billows. There’s a guy there that takes care of me.
It was better than going to Home Depot where the guys don’t know what you’re
talking about,’” he said.

He clearly
is enthusiastic about his job and likes its challenges and the people he works
with. So it’s not hard to get him to recommend electrical as a career.

“It’s a
business that is [needed]. It’s not like it’s going to go away. It’s always
going to be in demand,” he said. “There are always opportunities to meet new
clients, new people and create new relationships.”

knows his business is primarily a people business.

“If you
develop relationships with people and develop their trust, they’ll come to you,”
he said. “I want them to say, ‘I’m going to call Mike.’ If I don’t get that
call, somebody else will. And we try not to leave opportunities for our

Yarabinee’s Billows location is not near the Jersey shore, he and his customers
felt the impact of Hurricane Sandy.

He calls the
time, “a learning experience,” as the Billows team did all they could to answer
phones and customer
questions in the storm’s aftermath.

“We now know
what supplies are needed when we are hit by a storm like that, such as generators,
cords, flashlights, and batteries,” Yarabinee said. “Next time, we can be more

and his wife Michelle have three children: a nine year old daughter, Jaclyn,
and twin two-year-old boys, Hunter and Dylan.

“[When I get
home] my full-time job is just about to start,” he laughed.

Nowlan is a Boston-based freelance writer/editor and author. He can be reached

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