EXPERIENCING THE ELECTRICAL INDUSTRY FROM EVERY ANGLE
Pat started his career as a design engineer after college in Chicago, but decided quickly that sitting at a drawing board all day was far too boring; he wanted to get outside and meet other people. As a result, he joined an electrical contractor as a salesperson to call on individuals that needed any sort of low-voltage wiring. The position gave him an opportunity to see how an electrical contractor works.
In 1987 the company transferred Pat down to Georgia to be a regional sales manager, to what he expected to be a two-year temporary season of his life. However, 32 years later, Georgia is home now and he is completely in love with it.
Acuity Brands acquired Juno Lighting Group in 2015, when Pat was in the leadership position of the strategic accounts, and he recalls the transition as entirely positive. Being no stranger to companies changing ownership himself (Juno had been through four prior ownerships), Pat recognized the good in the company’s shift to join Acuity–– itself being a collection of around 30 small and medium companies all linked together under the same brand.
The team at Acuity Brands ranges across the U.S. and also includes some international brands as well, which brings together an incredible pool of helpful resources and brilliant people. Juno’s capabilities on their own could not have accomplished as much as they now can with Acuity’s size, training resources, subject matter experts, marketing resources, product portfolio, millions of SKUs, and ability to deliver.
MAJOR LESSONS THAT HAVE CARRIED PAT THROUGH HIS CAREER
Since he first got his start, the biggest lesson that Pat has learned is to make sure to have at least one mentor, if not many. Mentors have lived life, experienced the industry, and can share what they have learned to make people around them even better–– and those people who learn from them can in turn share that same wisdom when they become mentors themselves.
One of Pat’s most formative mentors, Vince Biondo, gave him the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. Though it was written in 1931 and is on its seventh generation of republication, it’s an incredibly influential and still very relevant book. Many of its lessons still hold true today and will continue to do so for years to come, because they’re all about taking care of customers and dealing with difficult situations.
When it comes to building relationships and hiring new salespeople, Pat often draws on the advice and experience of all those mentors–– particularly Ron McCarthy. Ron once told him that every new hire is being brought on to call on customers, so they have to be the best. If you’re interviewing somebody and you wouldn’t want to bring them into your home to meet your family, why would you want to introduce them to your customers?
That customer relationship is central to an individual and a company’s success. After the impact of the 2020 pandemic, Pat has seen both good and bad come from the transferring relationships from in-person to online. The good news about virtual environments is that whereas in the past, when it could be hellaciously expensive to transport multiple subject matter experts from across the country to sit down in the same room… now, they can all meet one another immediately and without traveling. Subject matter experts that might be on the other side of the globe can be “in the room” within mere minutes. Adapting to this digital shift has proved exceedingly beneficial.
That being said, nothing is ever quite going to be able to replace the immense value and personal impact that face-to-face meetings have. Just one day before Pat’s interview with Bright Ideas, he had his first opportunity to meet with a customer for several hours. The time they spent chatting and eating dinner together completely enhanced their connection far more than if they had remained separated by distance. In-person interactions will continue to improve communication, because having the ability to solve problems even from a distance is made easier when those interpersonal connections are stronger and when both people actually know each other well.
LEAVING A LASTING IMPACT ON OTHERS IN THE INDUSTRY
With as extensive a history as Pat has in the electrical industry, he’s had the opportunity to hire many people and then see them progress over the years. He’s hired factory workers, agents, a nurse, a bank teller, and even somebody from a home improvement store. In many cases, he’s found that once someone enters the lighting industry, they’re always in the lighting industry–– and in the case of his former mentees, many of them are indeed still active and successful in the same field. Four are even principals running their own independent sales agencies.
However, whether they work for Acuity Brands or even for Acuity’s competitors, many of these people have been doing very well for themselves and that’s something that Pat can’t help but be proud of as a mentor.
To learn more about the opportunities available to members of the Acuity Brands team visit careers.acuitybrands.com. Next week, Catherine and her guest will be covering how to easily meet life safety codes in your area.
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