During my working years, I always have been one of the younger employees at jobs I’ve held.

I barely was old enough to vote at my first regular job that took me through my last semester of high school and all four years of college. Right out of school, I had just eclipsed the threshold to purchase liquor when I started my first daily newspaper gig.

At each stop of my professional career I’ve been extremely appreciative that people have taken a chance on the young guy. I also have been fortunate to learn from some outstanding veteran mentors.

At that first job in high school at the department store (remember the old Service Merchandise chain?) we had an older and, shall we say, colorful store manager for a time. While many of my favorite memories of this fellow are unprintable, he taught me valuable lessons about hard work, trust and treating people right. He also taught me to take guff from nobody as evidenced by him threatening to beat up a dishonest Christmas-time customer who attempted to return a used alarm clock in a new alarm clock box. Given the choice to run out the door or fight the manager, the crook decided to head for the exits.

This issue of Supply House Times is our annual look at some of the up-and-coming young executives in our industry. In addition to the cover story on two of those bright stars (Aaron & Co’s Mike Laudino and Lindsey Portnoy-Rodner), we present our annual Young Execs 20, which profiles 20 young industry leaders.

In fact, we received such an overwhelming response this year that we’re including 10 more young-executive profiles exclusively here.

In terms of criteria, we kept the age limit of our list to 35-and-under, and limited it to one person per company. Boston-area-based Snow and Jones, which features eight supply counters and two luxury kitchen-and-bath showrooms on the south shore of Boston and Cape Cod, is flush with young executives whose enthusiasm for their positions and being part of the industry is infectious.

“The industry has rewarded me many great customers who have turned into friends along the way,” says Patrick Jones, a manager in the company’s Falmouth location and the son of co-owner David Jones.

Patrick’s brother, Adam Jones, is a manager in the Norwell, Mass., location, and has embraced the 72-year-old
company’s training and education commitment.

“I like the never-ending learning,” he says. “There always are new products and changes in ways to do plumbing and heating that keep it very interesting. Having the latest knowledge and being able to inform our customers gives us value to our customers.”

Co-owner Barney Jones’ children, Timmy and Patti, and co-owner Danny Jones’ daughter, Danielle, also provide the company with a bright future.

Another young leader with his best years ahead of him is 37-year-old Greg Goode, CEO of Mokena,
Ill.-based M. Cooper Supply. Goode started in the industry at age 17 and has been with M. Cooper for the last 15 years. Goode also is a member of the American Supply Association’s successful Young Executives division, which provides networking and educational opportunities to up-and-coming industry talents.

Goode says the YE’s division has been an invaluable learning resource for him. The group will hold its annual Spring Forum in Milwaukee in May. If you’ve never been to a YE event, I strongly encourage you to check one out.

“The YE networking has been extremely beneficial for me over the years,” he says. “I am surrounded by an atmosphere that allows me to feel comfortable enough to ask questions among people my own age without the intimidation factor. YE is the perfect segue into our industry to meet new people, keep up on new trends, technologies and benchmarking, as well as discuss and enhance internal processes within the business to improve the overall bottom line.”

Goode, echoing the thoughts of many, feels properly integrating the next generation into the industry is a must.

“It is our fiduciary responsibility to guide and mentor the next generation of individuals who are or may be in a position to assume control and handle the daily facets of running the business,” he says.

Folks such as the younger generation of Joneses and Goode are exactly what this industry needs — passionate up-and-comers who will continue their companies’ successes well into the future.