People

tED’s 30 Under 35: Meet The Hite Company’s Rob Eberhart

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.

For Rob Eberhart,
The Hite Company was in his blood and a part of his family for all his life.

His father worked
at Hite “for as long as I can remember,” said Eberhart, who started working at
the Altoona, Pennsylvania-based company during his summer vacations in high
school and college.

For a
summer, he interned in Hite’s credit department where he’d receive checks from
customers and apply them to their accounts. Another department in which he interned
was the purchasing department, he recalled.

“I started
to get involved in buying some of our inventory,” Eberhart explained. “So with
that and some of the other jobs I did during the summers, I kind of got an idea
of how different departments interact together. I got the picture of how the
whole place worked.”

So Eberhart
was hardly your usual “rookie” employee when he joined the company full-time
after graduating from Penn State University in 2005.

Today, as
quotations manager, the 29-year-old Eberhart is responsible for the company’s
strategies and processes for the construction sales and project management
teams.

“We quote
projects to electrical contractors. Let’s say that plans for a new hotel are
released. Electrical contractors will bid on it,” Eberhart explained. “Then we
take those plans, and we quote the packages that fall under the electrical
categories—a lighting package or a switchgear package, for example.”

Once the contractor
lands the job, he said, “We will then probably spend about 50 percent of our
time helping the contractors manage the projects, make sure the materials are
on-site and on time.”

Eberhart is
calm and almost philosophical about the commercial construction landscape.

“Over the
last two years, of course, commercial could have been better,” he said. “Our
company is spread throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia and southern New York.
There are some areas that are doing better than others, which help us stay on
top of things. Construction in Pittsburgh has been slow, but there is still
good enough activity there to keep us busy.”

Harrisburg,
Pennsylvania’s state capital, is also a steady source of business for The Hite
Company, a family-owned, independent distributor.

“For us and
our footprint, Harrisburg is probably the second largest metro area that we
operate in besides Pittsburgh,” Eberhart said. “We have a lot of opportunities
there.”

He was born
and raised in Altoona, and currently resides there with his wife, Amanda.

Eberhart has
great enthusiasm for the electrical industry and is bullish on its future. He would
heartily recommend it to younger potential employees. However, he believes the
industry could do a better job of getting the word out.

“Some young
people do not even know that this industry exists,” he said. “There is not a
multitude of them knocking on our doors to get in…. But our industry is a
relatively stable one. People are always going to need ways to get electricity.
The industry is not going to go anywhere, although there will be ups and downs.
So there is a lot of opportunity for people to come in and do a good job. And
they will then have an opportunity to take on more responsibility and have a
high level of success if they want to.”

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

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