Representor Winter 2021 - Rising Stars

Developing relationships and gaining knowledge

Rob Brunson and Alexandra Erickson

To gain a better insight into how young professionals in the electronics industry have turned challenges into opportunities and ensured continued success, The Representor interviewed Rob Brunson, sales representative of Wallace Electronic Sales.

Brunson shared his experience in the electronics industry and why he believes that the rep business can be a very attractive and gratifying profession for young professionals.

Please provide a little background about yourself.

I am 29 years old and grew up in Columbia, South Carolina. With my amazing fiancé, Alexandra Erickson. I totally outkicked my coverage. I am also a dog enthusiast; we have a small army at our house, and we are proud to say all our dogs are rescue dogs. I will not say how many I have because I do not want anyone reading this to think I am a crazy person.

Thirty pounds ago, I played college basketball at a relatively large division II program (Barton College) where I studied political science.

After college, I pursued a career as a chef and ended up becoming the head chef at Alodia’s Cucina Italiana in Lexington, South Carolina. If you are ever in that area, you should check it out (yes, this is a plug) and let Adam know Rob sent you.
Fast forward to now.

Wanting to take my life and career to another level and having always loved electronics, technology, and connecting and learning about people, naturally, I was drawn to sales, and more specifically, the electronics industry. In April 2019, I met Wallace Electronic Sales’ Emmett Ellis and Mark Motsinger and as the story goes, the rest is history.

What made you choose this industry as your current career path?

I love working with people and providing them with solutions. Developing relationships and learning about people on a more personal level is a really gratifying part of this job. I also love the competition. Waking up in the morning knowing that if I work hard, I will reap the fruits of my labor.

As a young professional, what are some of the main challenges you encountered as you embarked on your career journey?

Not knowing what I do not know.

What steps have you taken to overcome these challenges and to ensure that you can establish and nurture a successful career?

First and foremost, I listen to Mark and Emmett. I try to be a sponge. They have so much knowledge and experience; it is comforting and gives me a secure feeling to have them to lean on and to learn from. The second thing I do when trying to overcome challenges is not having what I call a “galaxy brain.” Usually, the simple and most practical thing to do is the right thing to do. Do not overcomplicate it.

What were some training tools that were beneficial to your professional growth?

A lot of the same ideas from the previous question apply here. Leaning on and using your mentor’s knowledge and experience I think is the most valuable tool for any young person in any industry. Take in as much knowledge as you can by listening to podcasts, watching YouTube videos, and dare I even say read some books? Other than that, I think the basics are the most important thing. Do what you say you are going to do. Be on time. Listen. BE HAPPY. Be empathic. Work hard. Be an advocate for your customer. Be a problem solver with solution-driven ideas. Be authentic. Do not worry about making mistakes. HAVE FUN.

Do you think that there is enough new talent entering the electronics industry and what could make this field more attractive to future young professionals?

The electronics industry has plenty of talent but at the same time, you can never have enough talent. Just ask the Kansas City Chiefs or Los Angeles Lakers. I think our industry needs to be constantly trying to add more new talent. The more talent, the better. I would love to see in the future more youth, women and diversity injected into our industry. The more our industry reflects the world around us, the better off I believe our industry will be moving forward.

One thing we can do as an industry is to work on our messaging to younger people.

Why? Because this is a profession that a lot of young entrepreneurs would want to do. I imagine a conversation about our industry with someone my age or younger than me would go something like this:

Do you want to set your own schedule? Yes.
Do you want to dictate how much money you make? Yes.
Do you want to travel and be a part of up-and-coming technology? Yes.
Do you want to effectively be your own boss? Well, yes again.
Do you want to feel like you made a difference and be gratified in your work when you come home for the night? Yes.

All the key parts of being in sales in the electronics industry are and will continue to be of interest for younger people. Technology is exciting. Having the opportunity to be a part of that growth is so much fun.

A group inside ERA is working to create an intern program and I think this is a great idea. Who knows, maybe in the future we can invite students to be a part of the ERA Conference. I am certain that if we get young people engaged in this industry, they would want to be a part of it.

Professionally, what keeps you up at night?

Emails. All those emails! I do my best to be as organized as possible, but I worry sometimes, did I forget to send that email? Mark always says, “We don’t want to have the customer feel like they need to follow up with us.”

The other thing that keeps me up at night is thinking about things that I can do better. Is there more technology that I should be using to reach customers? Is there something I am missing? How do I take my weaknesses and turn them into strengths?

Of course, the most pressing and last thing most salespeople think about before they go to sleep is, “Did I remember to fill up the Keurig with water and did we run out of K-Cups yesterday?”