tED’s 30 Under 35: Meet Rexel’s Matthew Greenwood

By Joe Nowlan

When Matthew Greenwood recommends the electrical industry to people, he cites a couple of things.

“There are not a lot of young people coming into this industry. So there are huge opportunities for them in sales, as well as in management. I have benefited from that myself,” he said. “If you have the drive and you want to succeed in life, this is a great place…. There are not many industries out there, in which you can make your own career path. This is one of them.”

Greenwood could cite himself as an example. Today, he is the project sales manager, Northeast Division, for Rexel, based in Manchester, N.H.

But in December of 1999, Greenwood was concluding a stint in the United States Army. He was also married and had a child on the way.

One day he was talking with a platoon leader of his about what he would do when he was finished with the Army.

“I really had no clue about what I was going to do,” he explained. “[The platoon leader] had an interest in the electrical industry. He told me that if he ever got out of the Army, that he would want to become an electrician. And that kind of hit home, I guess. I never really thought about the electrical industry. So I started doing some exploring once I got back home.”

Greenwood started by cold calling some electrical related businesses in New Hampshire, where both he and his wife are from. He was able to eventually get his foot in the door as a first-year apprentice at Cote Electric in Manchester. Four years later he shifted to CLS, an electrical distributor also based in Manchester (and which through acquisition later became Rexel).

He grew up in a small town in New Hampshire. His mother was a single mom for many years, he explained.

“She worked very hard to provide for me, and even when she married my stepfather, they both continued working. In fact he worked two or three jobs. So from an early age I learned a lot about work ethic.”

In fact, at the age of 10, he started working at a restaurant in Claremont, N.H., owned by one of his uncles. At the age of 11 he had worked his way up to washing dishes, he laughed.

But it was one job in particular that really amped up his work ethic: his summer on a dairy farm.

“[They] had about 100 head of cattle that we milked every day,” Greenwood explained. “You work very hard all day, getting firewood, cleaning up the fields in the spring, things like that. It was my last job before I left for the Army. That was a lot of hard work and you really respected what you accomplished because, for the people living on a farm, that was their job, their livelihoods.”

Greenwood and his wife Katie have two children: Noah, age 12, and Emily, age nine. Both kids are very active in sports, Greenwood said, which makes for enjoyably hectic schedules. Both parents are very involved in their children’s activities.

“Monday and Sunday night seemed to be our only nights off,” he laughed.

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

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