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Thank You Shawn!
After 36 Years, Shawn Newell Will Retire from Industrial Supply Company
At the end of this month, Industrial Supply Company will say goodbye to a man who has been instrumental in fostering our personalized customer service and supportive workplace culture. After a career that began almost four decades ago, Shawn Newell, our Vice President of Business Development, will be retiring.
Currently an important member of Industrial Supply’s executive team, his starting position at the company was much more modest. Back in 1981, when he was a student at the University of Utah, Shawn got a part-time position in our warehouse cleaning, pulling orders, and driving a fork-lift. At that time, he was a recent transplant from California who had come to Salt Lake City to play football for the Utah Utes.
After graduating from college in 1986, Shawn was all set to join the Utah Highway Patrol and start a career in law enforcement administration. It was Industrial Supply’s CEO Phil Thompson who convinced him to remain at the company, where by then, he was working full-time. Shawn credits Phil with showing him the enormous value of having an advocate and a mentor. Phil recognized his potential, and he made sure that if Shawn worked hard, he would have opportunities to advance in the company. Since then, in both his professional and personal life, Shawn has made himself available as a mentor to others, helping young people gain the skills they need to navigate major changes in their lives, and supporting them in their efforts to succeed in school, sports, or the workplace.
From warehouse work, Shawn moved into sales, where he had to rely on the outreach efforts available to those working in the pre-digital age—making cold calls to companies listed in the Yellow Pages, knocking on doors, and waiting in lobbies for a company representative to hear him out. It was during this time that Shawn honed his abilities to form relationships with businesses, clearly state the value of Industrial Supply’s services, and practice the resilience needed to withstand the inevitable rejections. It also gave him a clear understanding of what is needed to be successful in sales, which he kept with him as he was promoted to a leadership position.
During Shawn’s long career at Industrial Supply, the number of employees has more than tripled, and the company has grown from one location in Salt Lake City to seven locations throughout the Intermountain West. At the same time, the digital age ushered in customer service tools that would have been unthinkable in the 1980s, when a fax machine was a major communications breakthrough. In his sales and business development work, Shawn has championed the personalized customer service approach that has remained our standard throughout all of these changes.
It is Shawn’s focus on cultivating business relationships that led him to create his position in Business Development at Industrial Supply. In this role, he has acted as an ambassador for the company, making connections with businesses, trade associations, and contracting groups, getting to know them, and determining the best way to serve them. He strongly believes that a successful and sustainable business model is based on ongoing, authentic customer relationships.
Retirement from Industrial Supply does not mean that Shawn won’t be busy. He has always been very active in serving the community through volunteer work. Coaching and officiating youth sports and working within the education systems will continue to be priorities for him. He holds many community, government, and education board positions, of which the NAACP Salt Lake Chapter and the Utah System of Higher Education are only two. This fall, he was elected to the Cottonwood Heights City Council, where he will represent the neighborhood in which he and his wife, Tory raised their three children. He will continue to provide diversity training to corporate and other groups. And then there are his six grandchildren, which, we imagine, will fill whatever time he has left.
We will miss Shawn and are grateful for his many contributions to Industrial Supply. Best wishes from all of us.