Inside Sales; Medler Electric
By Joe Nowlan
In 2014 Zack Kelly was looking for a job that would at least combine decent pay with a work challenge.
"I started going to a community college," he explained. "I explored a couple of different majors. But I took a break from it basically because I felt like I didn't know where I was going."
That's when a job opening at Medler Electric Supply caught his attention.
"I thought it sounded very interesting," Zack explained. "I applied for a warehouse position and had two interviews before they hired me. So I started in the warehouse and really enjoyed it."
Zack started in Medler's Alma, Mich., warehouse. Before long, Medler saw they had a good young employee on their hands.
At the time of the hire, Zack was glad to have landed the position, although he admits he wasn't necessarily expecting it to become a career move.
"I had never really thought about the electrical distribution industry," Zack said. "When I first applied for it I just took it as a warehouse job, as a stepping stone to something. And it has turned out to be much more than that."
Those first weeks in the warehouse were challenging. There was a great deal to learn but Zack found himself attracted to the challenge.
"When I first started, there were a lot of products that I didn't really know anything about," he explained. "So there was definitely a big learning curve for the first couple of months. A lot of asking questions and figuring out what the stuff was."
Zack credits a past "30 Under 35" honoree (Jared Babcock) for helping him with the adjustment.
"He helped me out with a lot of stuff. Without him, I don't think I would be up to where I am today," Zack said. "He really got me going on the right track."
Zack also has benefitted from the company's willingness to get his own feedback about where he wanted to go in his career. A man who was then in Medler's HR department became another important mentor.
"[Bill Michael] is now our CEO, but at the time he was the head of our HR department," Zack said. "He talked to me basically about what I wanted to do. He just came out and asked me 'What would you be interested in? Inside sales? Outside sales?'"
About seven months after he started, Zack moved from the warehouse to counter sales and remained there for another seven months or so, he estimated. In that time, Zack also worked in Medler's Mt. Pleasant location.
"It was nice, a change of pace and I got to work with different people and learn a lot more," he said. "From Mt. Pleasant I came back here to Alma to do inside sales."
Zack was born in Houghton Lake, Michigan which is about an hour and a half away from where he lives now.
"I went to school at Farwell High School, in a really small town. A one-stoplight kind of town. It's where you know everybody in your class," he laughed.
He recently became engaged and will marry in May 2018.
Q. What advice do you have for other young professionals in the electrical industry?
A. My advice would be to never doubt yourself. That was one of my biggest things. I would think, "I could never do that." Or "I am not good enough for that." You have to realize that you are good enough and you can do whatever you want if you set your sights to it. You can accomplish it. You can be the president of a company. You can be the head of this or a branch manager—whatever you want to be. You can do that if you set your sights to it.
Q. What has been the most rewarding aspect of working in this industry?
A. I think it is all the knowledge that I have gained. When I started here I could put stuff on the shelves but I didn't know what it did or what it was used for. In the two and a half years that I have been here, I have gained so much knowledge. Whether it be with lighting or selling drives or panels, or whatever it is. I think that is the biggest thing. I know so much more now than I did two and a half years ago—knowledge about something that I didn't even know I would be interested in.
Joe Nowlan is a Boston-based freelance writer/editor and author. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.