[JACK KEOUGH] A Closer Look with
In almost every survey in which distributors are asked to identify their biggest concerns, the answers include the challenge of finding qualified people.
Our industry is a mature one, and careers in industrial distribution have been described as the world’s best kept secret.
Some colleges offering industrial distribution programs and
classes have seen growth with most of their graduates receiving
multiple job offers. The courses these students have taken include
everything from mechanical engineering, to sales and supply
chain integration. They are ready for jobs and careers in industrial
But how do we get entry-level students from high school to become interested and find out more about industrial distribution?
The ever–expanding Industrial Careers Pathway (ICP) program is
helping to fill that void.
The Alliance Partnership
ICP is an alliance of several leading trade associations: The American Supply Association (ASA); the Industrial Supply Association
(ISA) Education Foundation; NAHAD (the Association for Hose &
Accessories Distribution); NIBA (the Belting Association); the Power Transmission Distributors Association (PTDA) Foundation; and
– most recently – the National Association of Electrical Distributors
Each Alliance partner has a staff member and an association
member on the ICP Steering Committee who assists in the planning and development of the ICP initiative and advises on program components.
ICP says it addresses the need for skilled industrial distribution,
manufacturing sales, and customer service for today and tomorrow. ICP helps link students and job seekers through partnerships
with educators and job seekers.
Mary Jawgiel, ICP’s Program Director, says the challenge is to let
these students know there is such an industry as industrial distribution.
ICP representatives have appeared at trade shows, career fairs,
and high school classrooms bearing the message that industrial
distribution can be a truly rewarding career.
“Almost everyone who comes into our booth at a show has no
idea what industrial distribution is,” she says. “That’s the message
we’re trying to get out, and help them find out more about what
a great industry it is. These students are starting to take notice.”
Jawgiel recalls one student coming into ICP’s booth when the
booth was being staffed by a representative of a large power
The student told them he wanted to go into aeronautical engineering. He was surprised to learn that the distributor’s customer
was a major aeronautical manufacturer. It was such a big account
that the distributor had a full-time person at the manufacturer’s
“You should have seen his eyes light up,” she says. “We want
to show young people that industrial distribution can be a ‘cool’
An Up-Close Understanding of Distribution
One way to get the message out is through tours of a distributor’s operation. Two classes from Simley High School in Inver
Grove, MN had the opportunity to tour either Motion Industries’
St. Paul branch in February, or BDI’s St. Paul branch in March.
Kim Sievert-DiSanto, an instructor, career discovery teacher, and
work coordinator, thought the tours were helpful as a first step in
getting the students to better understand the field of industrial
“Students did not quite understand how businesses interact
and work together; they thought the branch we visited was the
only location,” she said in an ICP press release. “They did not quite
understand that Motion Industries and BDI distribute products as
well as provide technical assistance. It was quite a learning experi-
ence for both classes.”
That is not surprising to Jawgiel, who notes how beneficial the
ICP Helps High School Students on
Right Distribution Path
Almost everyone who comes into our booth
at a show has no idea what industrial