National Sales Manager; ProBuilt Professional Lighting
By Joe Nowlan
Brock Klein received an introduction to what would eventually become his career while still in high school.
He worked some construction during the summer and a friend's father was an electrical contractor who would work at some of his job sites.
"They went to a lot of the same jobsites – light industrial, retrofit and that kind of stuff. So I got to see a little bit about the industry in general and the construction market at that point," Brock explained.
Upon graduating from college, Brock worked for Penske Truck Leasing. After that he worked in the HVAC industry.
"But I was looking for something new because there was a lot of cold calling involved and no one likes cold calling all day," he explained. "So I started looking around and I came across [ProBuilt Professional Lighting]."
One of ProBuilt's products was a new type of temporary lighting—something Brock was exposed to when working construction. Most construction sites need to use temporary lighting, he explained.
Its flagship product is the Wobble Light. It is made not to fall down if something or someone runs into it. It automatically rights itself. It remains cool to the touch and is extremely durable.
"It replaces those halogen tripod lights. I'd worked around those a lot when I was doing construction and broke my fair share," Brock said. "I immediately was drawn to that because this was something that I would've felt good using and could have used when I was doing construction."
Brock explained that ProBuilt is one of the few companies that focus solely on temporary lighting solutions. Chances are, he said, if you walk by a building under construction or renovation, you'll see ProBuilt's lighting being used.
"A lot of people don't realize it but every building that goes up, on every floor they need 10 to 15 lights to light it up depending on how big the building is," Brock explained. "So a distributor could sell $100,000 worth of lights on a 70 story building."
Brock graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University with a bachelor's degree in business administration with a focus in management. He minored in political science.
"I was actually planning on going to law school, until my senior year. I decided I didn't want those extra student loans and also I wasn't a person that could sit in an office all day and read case law," he said.
Brock and his wife Christina like to get out and try to stay active.
"We have been doing a lot of outdoor activities and things like that lately. I like to ride my mountain bike. We are actually going to do some of those Spartan obstacle course races," he said. "And we like to travel."
He is a fan of the Chicago Cubs and had his fingers crossed for them to win a World Series last year for the first time since forever.
Although he was on a work trip during the fateful series, he says watching with a dozen Cubs fans in a sports bar was still pretty special.
"To put it in words is tough," he said. "Being a lifelong Cubs fan and seeing this amazing group come together and win was unbelievable. When so many people I have worked with across the country, like sales reps and customers, started texting me congrats - that was when I think I realized that this was unlike anything else I have experienced."
Q. What advice do you have for other young professionals in the electrical industry?
A. The advice I would have is to take calculated risks when possible. Put yourself out there on a limb whether it is with a new idea, a new tactic, a perspective or opinion. Put yourself out there. Make it known that you want to be a person with ideas and solutions. Don't just say, "We have a problem here." But have an idea or a solution. That is the quickest way for you to be recognized as an emerging talent or leader in the organization. You will be quickly pegged by someone above you to help you move along in your career.
Q. What has changed the most in the industry in the past five years?
A. Besides the economy changing every two months on you? [Laughter] I would say technology is obviously the biggest change, whether it is with connectivity or energy efficiency. Plus, LED technology obviously changes every three months, if you want it to.
I think the technology part of it. Coupled with that is what the customers are expecting. They are expecting better and higher quality products these days at lower prices. They see the technology changing so much that they believe the prices need to be coming down while still having a better product.
Joe Nowlan is a Boston-based freelance writer/editor and author. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.