August 2, 2016
Many Millennials join our industry by indirect routes or by chance. Not so for Jonathan Clarke, who started as an industrial apprentice electrician in the oil and gas sector. Today Jonathan is Industrial Sales Manager, Alberta Region, for Thomas & Betts.
Jonathan made the switch to electrical distribution sales as a result of car accident, in which he sustained severe injuries to his shoulder. The injuries forced him to find work elsewhere in the industry.
“After a lengthy time [away from] work, through a few shoulder surgeries, I landed on my feet in the electrical distribution side of the business,” Jonathan explains. Prior to his current role as industrial sales manager, Jonathan held positions in multiple sectors of distribution including: warehouse employee, counter sales, inside sales, project coordinator, and outside sales.
For the past three years, Jonathan has held both inside and outside sales positions at Thomas & Betts within the manufacturing end of the business.
In his current role, Jonathan is now responsible for overseeing the industrial and lighting side of the business, which comprises most of the company’s business in Alberta. Here’s how he describes his role: “to maintain and/ or grow market share within our group in a down economy, grow market share in an upswing economy, report fiscal forecasts to head office, negotiate with key account decision makers, and support his group with leadership.”
What are the primary challenges of your current job?
“I believe the number one challenge is to maintain a healthy balance between work and personal life. My objective is to not bring my work home and not bring my home to work, and separate those two lives to the best to my ability. Sometimes it is evitable, but for the most part I do separate the two quite successfully.
“Having a more in-depth travel schedule has made myself and my family make some adjustments, but it is working out quite well and I make my time at home count and make up for the times I am away on business.
“Being younger than the majority of persons I deal with on a daily basis at times has its challenges, as I have to work twice as hard to prove myself. But at the same I enjoy it and have succeeded thus far in these situations. Usually the initial meeting is questioned but soon after I believe I am looked upon as a mature businessman and can relate to any age group I deal with.
From your vantage point, what are the key challenges facing our industry?
“The toughest challenge is maintaining market share in a struggling economy, which in turn causes each and every one of us to refocus our business plans at all times. We have to be diligent in keeping up with new technology through R&D and market feedback to stay ahead of the competition, so we continue as a company to be a leader in the industry.
“With technology changing and advancing daily, as sales professionals we have to assure our end users and customers that the business still requires service at a personal level that technology can’t replace. We need to assure that the end user can count on sales professionals to service the industry more effectively than being able to order their products online. Now is the time to be in the face of the customer more actively and to succeed in securing that the customer needs a person not a tablet to support and grow their business.
“One of the challenges we are all aware of is when the economy undergoes drastic changes (e.g., oil pricing). We see fierce offshore competitors make their moves in our market and eroding the market place with below market pricing.
What person (real or fictional) inspires you the most?
“My twin brother Jordan Clarke. Although he is only four minutes older than myself, I look up to him as an older brother and role model of what a true professional and family man is all about. He inspires me to be a better person personally and professionally. His success in life is purely due to his work ethic and drive to succeed, which in turn has got him to the position he is in today and earned him respect in all aspects. The man will take the shirt of his back for anyone in the blink of an eye, and without him I wouldn’t be anywhere near close to where I am today in business and life.”