steve-monroe1Name:  Steve Monroe AHC, CDT
Company:  Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies, Needham MA – 9 years
Current Position:  Distributor Representative
Prior Industry Experience:  Partner in Sterling Hardware Group, an independent rep. firm in New England
Total Years in Industry:  20

How did you get your start in the door and hardware industry?

My father and another gentleman by the name of Bob Roy were partners in a firm Bob had started called Roy Associates.  Bob had also started a small company on the side called Don-Jo Manufacturing.  As Don-Jo became more successful it was taking more and more time away from Bob on the road so they were looking to add an associate.  I had been lucky after graduating from college to start working for a company that sold stainless steel and high temperature alloy metals.  I had been with them for two years and had made a good impression so I was set to travel to Minneapolis to interview for a greater role in that organization.  I think deep down inside my father didn’t want me to leave New England, that and back in 1989 the economy was booming here.  So they asked me to join the firm.  Two months later the economy crashed and sales went south fast, so my career in hardware started with a bang.

Who have been mentors to you during your career?

My mentor without a doubt is my father.  The agreement we had when I started was that Bob Roy was going to travel with and train me.  I think my father was afraid, as he had seen so many father and son teams end up at each other’s throats.  It seems like father/son teams either get along very well or end up killing each other.  Soon we realized that we got along great so we spent more and more time together as the years progressed.  I will say I did not go a week working with my father without learning something.  He is without a doubt the best at reading folks that I have ever seen.  He can tell within minutes if someone is slinging the BS or really telling the truth.  Great judge of character.

What changes have you seen in the industry over the years?

At the risk of sounding like a real old timer, the biggest change over the last twenty years is technology – both in the products and in the business tools we use daily.  The old rule of thumb was you had to be out actually seeing the customers and writing the orders, then fax machines came along and folks started faxing orders in, and now they just email them.  In regards to products, the electronic offering and wireless products today are stuff out of a James Bond movie only twenty years ago.

What’s the best part of your current job?

The best part about my current job is solving problems – whether it’s a customer problem or an end user who has a situation that they need help with.  Especially if they realize they need help and ask in a nice way.  Nothing gets my goat more than when someone has a problem and demands that we come up with a solution.  Believe me, it happens.

What career would you pursue if you weren’t working in the hardware industry?

If I was not in this industry I’d either be in restaurant management/hospitality or coaching somewhere.

What’s your favorite hardware-related product?

My favorite product currently is any battery-operated pushbutton lock.

What would your colleagues/customers be surprised to learn about you?

They’d be surprised that I am a very good cook.  I worked my way through school cooking and managing a restaurant, and only got out of that business when I realized that for the rest of my life I would be working Thursday, Friday, Saturday evenings, Sundays, and every major holiday.

What’s your proudest accomplishment?

Within the industry – passing my AHC exam.  Outside of the industry – finding out that my computer actually had spell-check and figuring out how to use it .

What do you like to do in your free time?

I try to spend as much of my free time with my two dogs and my wife at our house.  I was lucky to buy a house from a guy who had a son who was a botanist, and he landscaped the place quite beautifully. I’ve been trying since we bought the place to keep it up.

What words of wisdom would you give to people entering the industry? 

My words of wisdom are simple.  It takes two years before anyone who joins this work force to even come close to understanding what they are doing.  For the first two years you are just treading water. Second words of advice come from my father who says, “Problems are just like hangnails.  If you take care of it right away the damage will be slight.  If you let it linger, then the finger gets infected and everyone has a huge problem, so if something needs to be done just get it taken care of.”

If there’s someone you’d like to nominate for an industry profile, drop me an email.

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