By Joe Nowlan
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 tedmag.com, 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.
Brent Palser will laugh a little and explain, “I started working along time ago. I guess I do like to work.”
He began working at Sidney, Ohio-headquartered Dickman Supply while still in high school as part of a co-op program. Currently, he is the assistant branch manger at the company’s Greenville, Ohio, location. June will mark his twelfth year there.
He began as a warehouse assistant, and then worked as a driver. Eventually, he was promoted to counterperson—all before graduating high school.
Palser grew up in Greenville which is located in the central part of the state. He and his wife, Cheryl, live about 60 miles south of Greenville in Springboro, just outside of Dayton.
After graduating from high school, he worked for three days each week at Dickman Supply while attending school two days each week at Wright State University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in finance. He is currently enrolled in the MBA program at the University of Dayton.
As the assistant branch manager in Greenville, he is responsible for an array of duties including some sales.
“I have a few accounts, some of our larger contractor and industrial accounts here,” he said. “A lot of what we do here is commercial construction and large-scale agriculture, including chicken houses as big as three football fields and four stories high.”
Selling is a challenging aspect of his job but one that Palser tackles head on.
“It’s a lot easier to sell something when you are pretty well-versed in the products,” he said. “Nobody wants to know a salesman who is just going to come in and have lunch or play golf with them. That type of salesman doesn’t work anymore…. You have to be a salesman who knows what they’re doing, and who people can trust to get things done correctly.”
When asked about the challenges he faces, his answer is similar to that of a lot of colleagues in the electrical industry: finding talented employees.
“The average age here, with about 18 [employees], is somewhere in the late 40’s,” Palser said. “So we’re trying to get the younger generation to come here and work, be a delivery driver for a while, be a counterperson for a while, do inside sales. In a perfect world, you’d hire somebody when they’re 18, and they work for you forever.”
Dickman Supply still has the high school co-op program that Palser himself was part of and he hopes to hire someone out of that program in the future. While too modest to say so, the irony is that the 28 year-old Brent Palser would ideally like to find another teenaged Brent Palser.
Like virtually all of his “30 Under 35” peers, Palser enjoys the ongoing changes in electrical-related product lines.
“Probably the biggest change is the energy-efficient products. The big push now is to reduce energy,” he explained. “The standard light bulb that we sold 10 years ago—we don’t have or will not have that soon…. So while there’s a great deal of learning involved, there is also no such thing as the same old same old. Nobody falls into a rut here.”
Joe Nowlan is a Boston-based freelance writer/editor and author. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Tagged with tED