C³’s North American sales leader, Tanner Van De Hey, shares his thoughts on the future of the industry and what drives him.
Welcome to our new Industry Spotlight series, which will highlight rising stars in the sleep products industry. For the inaugural installment, we caught up with Tanner Van De Hey, North American sales leader for C³ Corp., a packaging, lamination and system engineering manufacturer based in Appleton, Wisconsin. As a teenager, Van De Hey cut his teeth on the periphery of the family business (his father, Joe Van De Hey, founded C3 in 1994), doing landscaping around the property and cleaning the office. As he grew up, so did his roles, and he gained experience in building machines and working in operations before pivoting to his current position. Now, he mainly works in sales, focused on bringing new business to the company, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Keep reading to learn more about Van De Hey.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Someone once told me, “If you want to separate yourself from everybody else, just do.” And I thought it was simple; it took me a minute to register it. But just do something every day that makes you progress in the direction that you want to go, and you will. You can have crummy days, but as long as you’re still going forward, that’s all that matters.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Typically, I wake up, and there are things I have to do, like get back to this person or help this person solve their problems. The number one, I would say, is if there are open responses to the customers, that gets my immediate attention. But from a self-fulfillment standpoint, it’s definitely, “What can I do today, that puts me in a better position for tomorrow?” I think that there are plenty of opportunities every day and you just have to pay attention. So, for me, it’s seizing those opportunities.
What is the best part about working with family?
From a top-down view, it’s knowing that your family is making a difference in the community. It’s a privilege to lead and do that. It’s not just your employees, but it’s also that we do a lot of things with local vendors, where we’re changing their businesses and their families. The most rewarding thing is making that footprint. People always look at business, money, this or that, but it’s more about “What are you doing to make a difference?” I’d say, the biggest thing my dad has done for all of us has enabled that. You don’t have to be rich; you have to be humble. The biggest thing is “What’s your mark? What are you leaving in your community?”
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
When we bring in business, it continues the thought of “We’re making a difference here,” like giving people jobs. Simply put, I love bringing in new orders. Each department begins to work together as a whole creating a powerful team that delivers great products. It becomes our opportunity to provide a great customer experience. When we deliver great product and we do our jobs exceeding customer expectations, we confirm our value to the world.
What advice would you give to someone starting their career?
Pay attention and learn what’s going on. See and understand trends that are happening. If you’re the new guy, ask questions, pay attention and know what’s going on. Don’t pretend like you know all the answers because that can hurt you. What helps a lot of people build relationships is just being honest.
What excites you about the future of the industry?
The next generation of mattress manufacturing and furniture manufacturing is upon us. I see the industry diving deeper in automation than it ever has before. What excites me most about that, is at C3 we are the innovators. We are the best at adapting, so staying ahead of change and putting products out there that offer it. We are a market innovator. So, bringing new things to the market and letting the market kind of catch up is what’s the most exciting.