#YKKAPProud: Employee Perspectives with Territory Sales Manager, Tom Shook

Tom Shook is a Territory Sales Manager in North Carolina. After more than 34 years of working at YKK AP, he tells us about his career evolution and how the company culture has kept him engaged over the long term.

Tom, tell us about how you got your start with the company. 

I was looking to change careers from the electrical supply industry to another trade in the construction market. YKK AP ran an ad in the Charlotte Observer: “Sales Representative for aluminum storefront, knowledge of blueprints, metal systems, take-offs & estimating needed. Neat and professional in appearance, 50% travel with expenses & excellent fringe benefits package.” That was June 1988 and I started Aug. 8, 1988.

Today, it seems to be a rare feat to be with one company for so long. What is it about YKK AP that has kept you engaged over the long term?

From day one, YKK AP was the underdog or the “new kid on the block” in the industry. Everyone was talking about us as if we were a threat to the established pillars of the industry and tried to undermine our efforts. It was the fuel that has driven me to this day.

That is definitely a strong motivator! Has YKK AP supported your career in any specific ways as you evolved as a sales representative?

YKK AP has always encouraged its employees to seek continuing education. At one time, we were required to obtain our CDT credentials. We all studied with supporting classes and mini-training sessions. It gave us credibility in the architectural community because we had a stronger understanding of construction documents, and we were able to use that expertise to add value to our architectural customers.

How have you seen the industry change over the course of your career?

Tenfold. The dominant players from our competitors to our customers have changed numerous times. The next round of change is upon us today. Customers are encouraged to do more for themselves, and that trend is definitely the future.

Are there any moments that you reflect on as your proudest during your time with YKK AP? 

There are multiple moments that have stuck with me. To start with, it gives me great pride to know that  I was on the ground floor of YKK AP as it took root in the United States in 1988. To see how much we have grown, and where we are today, is remarkable.  Second, developing the North and South Carolina territory from scratch was gratifying as we opened the Greensboro Service Center and hired a South Carolina sale representative in 1996. Lastly, to see the various accounts that were dominated by a competitor, change over time to YKK AP as their primary source has been incredibly satisfying.

What do you think is next on the horizon for YKK AP?

Well, the opportunity to become the industry leader should be the ultimate goal. We can strive for that by providing a superior service that is unmatched in the industry. If we service the day-to-day business like no one else, then the sky is the limit of what we could achieve. We will continue producing quality and innovative product lines. Lastly, online services are the future, so improving and expanding online ordering will play a major role in our continued growth.

Looking back, what advice would you give your younger self? 

Repeat the approach to the job I was presented with. I was open-minded about the opportunity and embraced its challenge. The road map was ours to blaze with minimal boundaries to achieve our goals.

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