During my travels, I often hear that our industry isn’t a “sexy” or “glamorous” business when it comes to recruiting young talent.
Are we sure about that?
In gathering information for our annual Young Executives 20 spotlight that starts on Page 44 of this issue, I heard the exact opposite. “Don’t count it out because it doesn’t seem ‘glamorous’ like the tech or fashion industry,” cautions Jessica Kolaitis, accounting and operations manager at rep firm Tim Morales & Associates. “This sector will be around a long time and if you invest your time and energy, it will pay you back tenfold, probably for life.”
Gregory Aranoff, vice president at rep firm Platsky Co., says youngsters considering this industry need to dig deeper beyond the surface. “I believe the younger generations view this industry as unglamorous,” he says. “In many ways they are correct. Copper fittings and toilet bowls are not necessarily the most exciting things in the world to sell. But this is an industry that rewards those who work hard and have good ideas.”
Morrison Supply’s Jamon Fuller is on the same page as Aranoff. “Look past the exterior,” he stresses. “We do not just sell toilets. We sell our service, solutions, experience and resources. This industry is complex and there is a position and career path for everyone who wants to excel and be successful.”
Still not convinced? Here is some simple math. Platsky’s Aranoff has been with the company 13 years (he joined in his early 20s) and has risen to the post of vice president. Consumers Pipe & Supply’s Eric Ruano is 36 years old, has been with the company 12 years and now is its controller.
Ruano had been working for the company full-time through his last two years of college when opportunity came knocking. “Upon graduating I was offered an opportunity to enhance my accounting career skills while continuing to work in the PVF industry,” he says.
Joey Fuller, 32, has been working full-time at Texas Plumbing Supply in Houston since 2004 (he was 19 when he started). His father, Glenn, is president of the company.
“I was drawn into the industry from a young age,” he says. “I liked the fast-paced environment and how relevant, yet unspoken the plumbing industry is.”
This is the fifth Young Execs 20 feature we’ve done in Supply House Times, so that’s 100 up-and-coming individuals over that timeframe who have been asked why they chose the business, and to the name their enthusiasm and passion for the industry jumps off the page. Popular responses range from the stability and longevity their industry offers to the wide array of opportunities available throughout organizations, whether it’s a distributor, manufacturer, rep, showroom or master distributor. The people and relationship side of the industry also is frequently cited.
Jeffrey Kissler, regional sales manager at Kissler and Co., and his brother, Matthew (warehouse operations), are part of a family-run master distributorship in its fourth generation. The people side of the business, both internally and externally, sits high atop the industry positives list for the brothers.
“It takes a lot to get a company through four generations,” Matthew Kissler says. “I believe our success can be credited to an incredible company-wide work ethic and an eagerness to grow and improve individually and together as a company on a daily basis.”
Jeffrey Kissler adds the customer-service element is a huge attraction for him. “In this industry, every day without a part could mean no water to the house or no heat or air-conditioning. These problems add up quickly. Knowing you helped fix someone’s problem is very satisfying,” he says.
I think it’s safe to say the not sexy and glamorous argument should be sent packing.
And thanks to the efforts of the likes of the American Supply Association, regional industry organizations and local companies spotlighting to young professionals the many benefits a career in this industry offers, we may be well on our way to cracking the talent shortage code in this industry.
“This industry always will be around,” Sioux Chief Regional Sales Manager Jacob Ismert says. “The opportunities are endless.”