rated new products into emerging markets and increased the number of our customers who
interact with us on a deeper level through our value-added services. The training sessions are
designed with best practice sharing in mind and it has paid off by uncovering new ideas and
opportunities. Overall, when we bring newer employees up to speed quicker and re-energize
our already strong talent base, we have shown that we can unleash our full potential and
have a positive impact on our entire organization.
ID: Your training program features a succession planning program that includes injecting
millennials into the business and working with frontline managers. Can you explain that
program in more depth?
Schneider: HD Supply Waterworks established a distribution trainee program several years
ago to incorporate high-potential recent college graduates into our company and industry.
Recently, we enhanced this program. The two-year program includes a 360-degree view of
the branch environment, hands-on learning from seasoned and highly knowledgeable veterans, as well as a structured curriculum.
Each trainee is assigned a mentor to help guide them and provide feedback throughout the
program. To graduate from the program, trainees must complete a project as a team that will
positively impact the company, associates, and/or the industry. After completion of the program, the trainees are placed into open positions matching their career interests and skills.
Thanks to this program, we’re growing the next generation of associates.
ID: What do you find that millenials most need to learn?
Schneider: In addition to exceptional customer service and business acumen, product knowledge is an important contributor to the success of our distribution trainees. There is no better
way to teach product knowledge than to immerse trainees in day-to-day operations, and
challenge them to ask questions, take detailed notes, and learn by doing.
ID: What do millenials have to share with the company that other generations of workers do
Schneider: At HD Supply Waterworks, we value experience and believe all generations of the
workforce have rich perspectives to share. The magic of the distribution trainee program really comes from the trainee working with and learning from our tenured workforce. Together
they bring an entirely new perspective on how we can continue to be the first choice distributor of our customers. It is all part of our philosophy of peer learning. And, naturally, the
millennial demographic brings energy and excitement around new technologies and methods
to reach our customers.
ID: What plans do you have to expand the program in the coming year?
LeClair: Our branch teams have really embraced the program and have been a large part of
its success. Because of this and the high quality of trainees we’ve seen, we will continue to
grow the program. We are planning to grow the number of distribution trainees three times
over last year’s class, and will continue to enhance the curriculum based on participant feedback. I am excited to see our continued journey with this program and its evolution in the
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