tED’s 30 Under 35: Meet Standard Electric Supply’s Gena Redding

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.

Gena Redding
remembers when she first heard about the electrical industry: It was on her
first day working in it—as a marketing assistant at Milwaukee-based Standard
Electric Supply.

that interview process they explained it to me,” she laughed. “At
that point, I was just looking for a job. But as soon as I got into it, I got

position required her to perform a number of tasks, something she took to

“It was
really an opportunity where the sky was the limit. It was just me and the director
of marketing [Pat Lawler] at the time,” she explained.

Despite her
inexperience, her ideas and suggestions were listened to and sometimes acted
upon. She credits Lawler with listening to her feedback.

“We hit it
off very well. He was coaching me and pushing me,” she said. “If I came up with
an idea, I brought it to him. Some he liked. Some he didn’t. And I just kept
continuing to grow in the role.”

Redding, who
is now director of marketing, began her studies toward her MBA degree that same
week she began at Standard. (She received that MBA in 2007.)

 “When I
started my MBA, I was trying to learn all these processes,” Redding said. “So I
would come in the next morning and say, ‘Why don’t we handle it this way? I was
in class and I thought about this.’”

While Lawler
and the company enjoyed her suggestions and enthusiasm, they would
affectionately joke about it.

“I’d come in
and he would say, ‘Oh no, you didn’t go to school last night, did you? Because
now you come into my office with all these ideas,’’’ she laughed.

It’s an
enthusiasm and curiosity that Redding has always had, she said.

really like to keep things fresh with new ideas…. I’ve never really been
afraid of hearing no. If you don’t ask, you won’t know the answer,” she said.

father was a physician who also came from a family who raised horses. She had an
almost country girl upbringing, one that also instilled in her an appreciation
for work. At a rather young age, she’d work on the family property.

“At the
age of 10, I had to keep a timesheet,” she laughed. “And I had to
work at least an hour a day for a quarter an hour. And when I turned 11, I had
to work two hours a day for $.50. So by the end of that week, I had to have worked
10 hours…. And I wasn’t allowed to do anything that weekend if I didn’t do my
work for that week.”

Redding and
her husband, Mike have two children: a four year-old (Christopher) and a two year-old
(Mikayla). One of the many reasons she would recommend the electrical distribution
industry to a young employee is the way it enables her to have a good life/work

“At any
of these conferences that I go to, many of the people—in addition to the
leadership and management positions they hold in their organizations—are able
to coach their children’s soccer or T-ball teams,” she explained. “They’re able
to have time to do those things and still have a rewarding career. There can be
a great work-life balance here.”

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

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