John Kemper, a Territory Sales Representative for Simpson Strong-Tie, shares his perspective on the thrilling opportunities and challenges presented by working in Building Technology. He highlights the significance of ongoing learning, setting goals, and having mentors in achieving professional growth. Additionally, he provides insights into the company culture at Simpson Strong-Tie and underscores the importance of maintaining a work-life balance.
When I first joined Simpson Strong-Tie, I took a pretty big chance leaving a full-time job at a contractor distributor for a temporary job here. Fortunately, it was a risk that paid off — personally and professionally. I’ve now been here more than eight years, have had more career opportunities than I dreamed possible and have a challenging, rewarding job I absolutely love. On the personal side, I met the love of my life, Lindsay Armstrong, who is a dealer sales representative, at the company. I’d call that a win-win!
In my current role, I’m the Lumber and Building Materials and Framer Software Territory Sales Representative (TSR) for our branch in McKinney, TX. That’s a mouthful, so to break it down, my day-to-day work revolves around selling Pipeline LBM, OLS, CS EWP, and Wall panel software and services to prospective clients. I primarily focus on the residential side of construction, with some overlap into commercial.
It’s such an exciting time to be working in building technology. This is a huge focus for our company, and the possibilities of where we can go are endless. My job is never boring and is so rewarding when we accomplish things that have never been done before in our company. Last year is a great example. Our national LBM team raised the bar for how many seats of Pipeline LBM were sold, outselling in one year the previous four years combined. Our team absolutely crushed it!
This sales role is a little bit different from others in that I cover the entire branch footprint of 13 states as the only LBM TSR. I rely heavily on our great team of field reps and their relationships to help me get in front of the correct customers. I do a lot of customer vetting and sales presentations, both in-person and virtual. I’m also responsible for creating and executing contracts with prospective clients, training colleagues on selling building technology, going on ride-alongs with my peers and other sales representatives, and showing our software at industry tradeshows.
I have had so many different routes and so many supportive coworkers and managers throughout my career at Simpson. The opportunities have ranged from roles within Manufacturing & Lean, to Sales, to Product Management, and now, Building Technology.
I constantly challenge myself to learn and grow professionally. I start by always being curious, asking “why.” Another tactic I use is to make myself “uncomfortable.” By that I mean I put myself out there and take strategic risks. That allows me to learn. Sometimes it’s successful and other times I may fail, but that’s what keeps me learning and growing. I also challenge myself with my goal setting. I always have a north star I’m using to guide the journey. Finally, I make it a priority to surround myself with excellent mentors both at Simpson and in other industries and fields.
One of the many things that makes Simpson Strong-Tie such a great place to work is that everyone in the organization is allowed to have a voice in the strategic direction of where we’re going. You can tell integrity, teamwork and collaboration are ingrained in our culture by how helpful people are throughout the entire company no matter their background. From the production floor to the sales team, to product management, the marketing team, the training team, and the leadership teams, everyone here will give you a hand in helping you achieve your goals.
I feel so fortunate to work at Simpson, so it makes me really happy when I can refer someone else to work here. I came to this company off a recommendation, and I’ve since been able to help a couple of other people get on with us. Seeing a friend of mine join the company and be successful in sales, while getting to help them along their Simpson career journey, is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had.
One thing I’ve learned in my role is that you have to manage the job, or the job will manage you. Fortunately, here at Simpson, we have a great sales leadership team that allows us to be autonomous enough to get the job done, but who are still there to provide the support we need in the field. I achieve balance by working hard to get the job done and by being able to shut it off when I need to so I can focus on my personal life and passions.