The Supply House Branch Manager: Leading the Way
Written by Francesca Messina
Sometimes, the industry you are destined to become a part of finds you. During the past five years, I have spent much time asking my colleagues how they became a part of this dynamic industry. I am fascinated with the stories of how they became who they are today. Furthermore, I am interested in where they see our industry going.
Many of these conversations have been shared with a local supply house branch manager over a cup of fresh brewed “counter coffee”. These men and women effectively serve and support the masses of plumbers, contractors, and trade professionals who frequent the busy sales counters of supply houses across the USA. This industry could not thrive without these branch managers; the relationships they have developed, the knowledge they have about the products we sell, and the business we are in.
Not only do these leaders maintain the daily operation of their business, coach their team, and stock the shelves; they also form valuable relationships with their customers.
Over the next few weeks, we will feature the stories of our Blackman Plumbing Supply Branch Managers. They are a unique group of people who make up the Blackman Plumbing Supply Family.
They take pride in what they do and above all, they believe in the POWER of the Trade!
To kick off our stories, we would like to introduce you to Mike Voulo, Branch Manager of Blackman Plumbing Supply Southampton, NY.
Mike Voulo started working at Blackman Plumbing Supply when he was 16 years old. He began sweeping the yard at our Medford, NY location. Having stepped away for a brief period to complete his Bachelor’s degree, it is safe to say Mike has been in the industry and with Blackman for 22 years!
How did you get started at Blackman?
Funny story, I had a friend who was working at Blackman Medford, NY in the warehouse. He knew I was unhappy with my current job. When the current “sweepy kids” were terminated because they decided to leave work while on the clock to go play video games. They result, he called me right away. The rest is history.
Do you have a mentor, if so who is that person and how do they help you?
Many people have helped shape my career at Blackman from Kevin Regan to Tony Piliero and Jane Donaghy. However, the one person who has had the most significant impact, who I considered my mentor is Ed Cuff, Branch Manager of Blackman Huntington Station, NY. Back in 2008, I was lucky enough to be afforded the opportunity to pursue my career at Blackman as an assistant manager at the Huntington location. It was there that Ed and I developed a great work relationship and a strong friendship. Ed has taken time every step of the way to teach and prepare me for my future endeavors with Blackman. Today, I continue to turn to him when looking for advice or profession guidance.
What is your favorite part about being a Branch Manager at Blackman?
Having a background in education, I enjoy developing the careers of my associates. Whether in the showroom, the counter or training a potential future manager, seeing others succeed is very rewarding.
What is the most significant lesson you have learned as a Branch Manager?
I guess the quick and easy answer would be that the customer is always right! I have learned how to make that work within a framework where all parties can feel satisfied. Furthermore, I have learned how to connect with my customers to better address their needs.
What is your favorite item we sell and why?
I am not sure I have one specific favorite item. I have a strong waterworks background from my time with Kevin Regan our Waterworks Division Manager. So I would say that underground waterworks would be my favorite category to sell.