tED’s 30 Under 35: Meet KE Electric Supply’s Rocky Kuchenmeister

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.

When Rocky
Kuchenmeister graduated from Central Michigan University in 2001, he took his
computer science degree into the workplace.

He worked in
businesses that were not electrical related, he explained. And he enjoyed those
challenges, but….

“But 2001
was about the time that the computer industry was kind of taking a hit. I was
able to find work, but I quickly realized that it was not for me,”
Kuchenmeister said. “So I came back here to the family business and have been
here ever since.”

Today he is
the branch manager for the Port Huron, Mich., location of K/E Electric Supply—the
third generation of his family to work in electrical. His grandfather started
the business in 1952 with his brother.

While growing
up, Kuchenmeister worked there, “during summer breaks, Christmas breaks, Easter
breaks, occasional weekends—whenever I could,” he said.

enthusiasm for the electrical industry is contagious. He admits there is no
shortage of challenges that make the industry so appealing.

“I love the
idea of selling something that is going to turn into a new facility, a new
assembly line. I love being a part of the business cycle,” he said. “I love the
people that I work with and I love the people that I sell to. It would be tough
for me to leave the industry.”

An example
of this enthusiasm: He conducted this interview during the week before Labor
Day and actually sounded pleased when he said he’d be working that holiday

“If you’re
part of this ‘30 Under 35 series’ you have that passion and enthusiasm that is
genuine. I’m sure there are people out there who are smarter than me or were
better at different things than I am. But I think the passion separates me from
them,” said Kuchenmeister, who is 33.

He and his wife
Kari have three children—boys, aged 9 and 7, and a girl, who is 6-years-old.
Just as Rocky did when he was a boy, his children enjoy visiting the business
and seeing what goes on.

“They love
visiting dad here at work,” he laughed. “They’re doing the same things I did as
a kid. I used to come in and visit my dad and my grandfather…we even have a
few employees who are still around from when I was a child. They come and visit
and take candy from their desk, get ice cream from the freezer. They love
hanging out and looking at the cool parts we have around here. They don’t know
what the parts do yet, but they love them.”

His children
are some years away from looking at the company as a career. But Kuchenmeister
recently had a conversation with an employee’s son, a junior in college.

“I told him
that anything you want to do in the business world, you can find a job within
the electrical industry. If you want to do marketing, there are jobs in
marketing. If you want to do advertising, there are jobs in advertising,”
Kuchenmeister said. “I told him that whatever you want to do in business, you
can do in electrical distribution.”

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

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