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In his first ever trade magazine interview, Ryan Robertson shares his insights on working for the family business, Robertson Heating Supply (RHS). This next generation member of the industry has a lot of pride in the work he does. Not only is he passionate about the job, he sees a bright future for all in the industry.
Danielle Galian: What is your background? (Education, work, etc.)
Ryan Robertson: I studied business administration at the University of Akron. While studying at Akron, I worked summers at Robertson Heating Supply learning different roles by starting in the warehouse and working my way up to the sales counter.
DG: When did you start working in the family business? And in what capacity?
RR: I started working summers when I was 13 years old in our warehouse. I wasn’t much help back then, but I filled in wherever I was needed, and learned a lot about how our distribution center operates. After a few years, I was helping to pull orders for customers coming into our sales counter. I enjoyed my time in the warehouse/counter, because we have some great employees that helped me learn some of the basics, and I was able to meet some of our customers to learn more about their businesses.
DG: Did you always have an interest in the business?
RR: Yes, I have always been interested in RHS. It was easy to take an interest in the business when the person telling you about it is your dad, Scott Robertson. He is incredibly passionate about his work and this company.
DG: What is your current role?
RR: Currently, I am a territory manager working out of our Alliance, Dover, Akron and Canton branches. I couldn’t be happier with my position, I get to talk face-to-face with our customers and get meaningful feedback each day on where we can improve, and what we are doing well. I have also been interested in a sales position for a long time. I was given the opportunity to shadow some of our best territory managers and immediately knew that was the position I wanted some day. The best part about my position by far is the relationship I build with my customers.
DG: How do you like the industry?
RR: I am a little biased because I grew up in the industry, but it has always interested me. Growing up, I remember paying attention to all the fixtures in restaurants, and looking to see what kind of air conditioner our neighbors had.
DG: What’s been the most challenging aspect of working in the industry?
RR: The most challenging aspect of the HVAC/plumbing industry is that it is an “I need it yesterday” industry. When a homeowner is sitting in their 90-degree home because their A/C went out, they expect a new unit to be installed within days. This means that we need to constantly keep enough inventory in stock, because sometimes waiting for multiple days for a unit to be shipped is not an option.
DG: What do you like the most regarding the industry?
RR: I like the people. Most of the people working in our industry are hard-working and down to earth. They are not afraid to tell you like it is and they expect you to do the same.
DG: What are your hobbies/interests outside of work?
RR: I golf in our RHS golf league Thursday nights. I also join more fantasy football leagues than I can count.
DG: Your dad, Scott Robertson, is currently ASA president. How does he help and motivate you both personally and professionally?
RR: The best way to describe my dad is that he is always there. When I was in school, he was at every sporting event and meeting I can think of. He was always making sure my grades were up to par, and I was working hard. Now that I have the opportunity to work for him, I see that this trait follows him at work. He answers any questions I have, and takes time out of his day to come out and talk to my customers. I think you would have a hard time finding a more passionate and active president in their business than Scott Robertson.
DG: As a fellow young professional in the industry, what advice would you give to someone just starting out?
RR: Never stop asking questions. This industry doesn’t have three products that change every 10 years. It is comprised of thousands of products that are constantly changing. You can never stop learning in this industry and if you don’t ask questions you will fall behind.
For more information on Robertson Heating Supply, visit www.rhs1.com.