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Dean Rafiee is a fixture at trade shows and industry meetings. His outgoing personality, and passion, make him stand out from the crowd. I spoke with him about this and learned more about his background in the industry.
Danielle Galian: What is your background?
Dean Rafiee: I earned my BBA in Marketing at the University of San Diego and completed professional certification programs in Supply Chain Management and Lean Enterprise and Manufacturing at UCSD.
DG: How/when did you get your start at “Kulthorn North America?”
DR: After graduating from USD, I met the Kulthorn executive team at an industry trade show in Bangkok, Thailand. They gave me the opportunity to be part of the Kulthorn family in the North American market. I am grateful for this opportunity and to be part of this incredible company.
DG: What interested you the most about the business?
DR: From collaborating with people all over the world to executing our final strategies together as a team, I love every aspect of our business. Working together to solve difficult problems and achieve the impossible gives me the most satisfaction.
DG: What has been the most rewarding aspect of your job so far?
DR: I genuinely appreciate watching our team members learn and grow while working with our clients to build their businesses. Standing by our clients and witnessing small distributors hire teams and gain market share are the most rewarding aspects of my days. Our clients and vendors won't remember the products they purchased from us or how much each piece costs; they will remember the value we brought to their organizations and how we supported them in reaching their goals.
DG: You’re very involved in HARDI. Talk about that group and how it’s helped you.
DR: I think of HARDI as providing executive therapy sessions where I can take our challenges and sit with other suppliers, vendors, and even our competitors to work through and solve them. HARDI does a great job of bringing the industry together and encouraging collaboration and creativity; it brings companies closer and helps align our goals to meet new environmental and industry standards.
DG: You do a lot of work in southeast Asia. What is business like there? What are some challenges and advantages?
DR: I have been doing international business and working in Thailand for the past seven years, and I have enjoyed every minute of it. The rich culture, genuine people, and incredible food instill a sense of gratitude in me for multicultural partnerships. A challenge I faced at the beginning of my relationships was assimilating to the culture and the speed of business. In the U.S., business moves quickly; we are expected to produce faster than ever and sell more with less. In Asia, life moves more slowly. People take their time and companies ensure they do things right the first time. Business is based on trust and an old-fashioned hand shake.
DG: What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?
DR: I enjoy exercising and training at the gym, playing in soccer matches and continuously improving myself both personally and professionally by reading and participating in classes and programs.
DG: Do you have a motivational quote you live by?
DR: “It ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done!” – Rocky
DG: Talk about how awesome it is to be a young, successful member of the industry.
DR: The most encouraging part of being considered young is the feeling that I can change the industry. I can have a positive influence that will emphasize the importance of introducing the environmental protections and motivating more companies to practice ethical processes and procedures.
DG: What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
DR: Network often and get to know the amazing people in our industry. Always look for opportunities to improve yourself.
For more information on Dean, visit www.elcors.com.