The jan/san industry is not getting any younger. Distributors historically have struggled to recruit young professionals and recent graduates to sell toilet tissue, vacuums and other “unglamorous” products. With Baby Boomers retiring in droves, distributors need to find replacements for these vacancies. But more than simply filling a need, distributors really should be cultivating the future.

Sanitary Maintenance asked its advisory board members how they’ve been reaching out to the next crop of employees. Not every company featured has had success attracting the new generation, but they’ve all learned some lessons along the way.

Here’s what they had to say:

Question: Do you offer internships, mentoring programs, or other ways to reach students before they enter the workforce? What do you offer and has it been successful in attracting recent graduates?

Just started internships this year and our existing sales force has been very helpful in mentoring new sales reps during our initial training process.
— Chris Nolan, President, H.T. Berry Co., Canton, Mass.

Yes, we offer a starter wage position in inside/marketing and it's believed this will be our well for new talent for years to come.
— Paul “Dutch” Owens, President, Gem Supply, Orlando, Fla.

We have worked with several local universities and joining their alumni services and doing career fairs.

We have not looked much at internships because while that provides work experience and low cost employees it seems to not have a great success rate in getting the student to turn into a full time employee a lot of times they are just looking for work experience for several companies to add some breath to their resume. I think these programs may be effective depending on the type of employee you are in need of hiring.
— Eric Cadell, V.P. of Operations, Dutch Hollow Janitorial Supplies, Belleville, Ill.

We did offer summer internship with a small stipend. However, it has not been very successful to date.
— Hank Josephs, President, Spruce Industries, Rahway, N.J.

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Personality Traits To Look For When Hiring Young People