Every month we’ll be sharing a Q&A with a team member from SDLA. This month’s profile is an interview with one of SDLA’s principals, Daniel Cortez. Known as Danny to many, his background is Lighting Controls and nicknamed by some of his customers as the "GURU" of T24.

Daniel CortezQ: How did you get started in the lighting industry?

Cortez: I started in our industry working for Graybar Electric, starting in the warehouse in the shipping department. I had no idea what the Electrical Industry was or even if there was an opportunity for a career. After two years in the warehouse, I moved to counter sales and in just six months, moved up from there where I eventually became a project manager. I was handling jobs that cost up to $5 million.

Q: How did this start shape your career?

Cortez: Building my career from the ground up has really given me a good perspective on all aspects of the industry. I always say to my self-stay humble, talk with everyone the same from the guy driving the forklift or the PM giving you a job worth $1.5 million. Always lead by example, if you want your team to be at a job at 6 am, then you better be willing and able to do the same. Understanding everyone's role gives me the ability to understand a bigger picture and helps me come up with the right solutions for our customers.

 Q: What lead you to outside sales?

Cortez: Graybar gave me a great insight on outside sales, the ability to build a relationship with a customer, come up with a solution and see the project get designed and built was exactly what attracted me to sales. I took a job at Lighting Controls & Design (LC&D) as a District Sales Manager covering Southern California. That company grew and was acquired by Acuity Brands, who then hired me during the acquisition and expanded my territory for Acuity Controls and promoted me to a Controls Sales Manager. My focus there was to become the "Subject Matter Expert" in California's T24.

Q: What is your role at SDLA?

Cortez: When I was approached about becoming a principal at SDLA, I was excited about taking on the challenge of helping an organization grow. I knew SDLA had a great foundation and always heard great things about Ed Musbach, the founder of SDLA. I felt I could reinforce the agency’s vision that he had on service to our customers comes first above all else. That’s true from the products we represent and recommend, to the guidance we provide in the planning and installation process, to the training we design and deliver for our customers. We make it our personal agenda to ensure they understand the state of the industry, the technology, and the practical application of products in their own spaces. My role at SDLA is to guide this strategy and create value for our customers in SDLA solutions.

Q: What’s is your favorite part of your job?

Cortez: Helping the EC in the field, being challenged with a problem and coming up with the most cost-effective solution. Let's not forget teaching, whether it's teaching one on one or presenting to 50+ attendees on T24. I actually learn more and it always gives me insight on the new curriculum we need for our customers.