Since joining Advance Components two years ago, Regional Sales Manager Mallory Cravens was announced Board Secretary of the Young Fastener Professionals (YFP) association earlier this year. Hayley Everett catches up with her to discuss responsibilities, apprenticeships, and how businesses can attract young talent...
How did you first get into the fastener industry?
My grandfather, Doug Berry, started Advance Components 50 years ago. My first foray into the fastener industry was labelling hot sauce bottles in the warehouse for him. However, I held jobs in IT and software sales before joining Advance Components two years ago.
Can you outline a typical day in your role as Regional Sales Manager?
Advance Components is a master stocking distributor, so I work with other industry distributors across the East Coast. I am often on the road for meetings and attending industry events. At the core of what I do is focusing on helping our distributors service their customers better.
What are your responsibilities as Board Secretary of the Young Fastener Professionals association (YFP)?
As the Board Secretary I am responsible for all administrative tasks. I schedule and coordinate all meetings between board members. I also establish meeting agendas, take minutes, and outline defined goals and tasks for each member post meeting. Basically, I keep everything organised and keep the ball rolling.
What work does the YFP association do, and how does it support its members?
YFP aims to provide a platform for young professionals to become more engaged in the industry. We also aim to be a resource for businesses that employ or wish to employ young professionals. We do this through providing education and networking opportunities, as well as recruiting resources.
More generally, how important are associations in supporting young people in the industry?
Associations are extremely important for engagement and retention of young people in the industry. A study from the US Census Bureau interviewed 53.5 million adults between the ages of 18‐34 and revealed that 87% said, “professional or career growth and development opportunities” are a top factor in their decision to stay at a company. Young professionals want learning opportunities and to be involved. Associations are poised to provide this through education grants and scholarships, mentorship programmes and social and networking functions.
What more can be done to attract young people towards a career in the fastener industry, particularly women and other less represented groups?
There is a lot of information out there that outlines what certain groups of people value, such as the statistic from the US Census Bureau I referenced before. However, I think at the end of the day whether you are a young professional, or female, anyone from an underrepresented group just wants to feel welcomed and heard. We can do a lot to bring in more diversity by simply making the effort to do so.
Did you complete any apprenticeship schemes, and how useful were they?
I have not technically completed an apprenticeship, but I have worked just about every job at Advance Components, from bagging parts to answering phones at the front desk. That experience has been a huge asset because it has given me a solid foundation to grow from.
Do you think there is scope for more apprentice or training schemes for young people in the industry?
I think there is always room for improvement! Apprenticeship and training schemes obviously give young people an introduction to the industry they might not have otherwise had. However, day‐to‐day office interaction is a great place to focus also. It is often said that young people prefer a mentor instead of a boss, so building that culture within your company is likely to help attract young talent as well.
What is your favourite thing about working in the fastener industry?
While I do love selling specialty fasteners, my favourite thing about the industry is the people.
Read more from our Women in Fasteners series here.