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Blue Collar Work Ethic Helps Young Edelbrock VP's Rise

  Jason Snyder, Edelbrock
  "Focus on doing the job that management expects," says Edelbrock's Jason Snyder. "Everything else will fall in line."

Jason Snyder, YEN Member
Vice President of Marketing, Edelbrock

At 34 years old, Jason Snyder is a creative, successful young executive at Edelbrock Corporation. Recently promoted to vice president of marketing, Snyder believes that a blue-collar work ethic and continued appetite for learning is responsible for his success.

Known for being candid and direct in the daily course of business, Snyder has helped Edelbrock’s transition to the digital age. Here he discusses key points that have helped him climb the ladder.

What Does it Take to Make it to the Executive Level?
Early on, I had a manager that laid out very high expectations. I felt like the Karate Kid. If I had to clean shelves, stay late and come early, I did it. If I was late, he was standing at the door. There I learned to become an executive. It takes a blue-collar approach. You work hard, do what it takes and you'll be successful.

I was also willing to take the big risks for my job. I was 28 when offered the opportunity to work for Edelbrock. I had to move across the country—away from my wife and 18-month-old son—to unfamiliar surroundings and live in a hotel for seven weeks. But those were the things that I had to do, to make the sacrifice to make it work.

Why Were You Promoted So Young?
It came with hard work, because people around me recognized my hard work. Hard work shines through and many younger people either don't want to put in the hours or feel like they are suppressed because of a manager that takes credit for their work. In time, upper management and your company will see your contributions and intelligence.

Where Should You Start?
Start with a good relationship with your direct supervisor, and the owner if possible. Be a good employee, listen to your manager and get the job done. You have to be willing to learn how to present constructive criticism and give fresh input on important decisions. But before you get over-ambitious, focus on doing the job that management expects. Everything else will fall in line.

What Should a Young Executive Be Careful of Saying?
"That's not my job" and "I don't know" need to be followed up with "…but I'll find out." I'm not afraid to say I don't know, because it's honest. You need to be inspired to figure out how to learn it. If you're one of those people that brings up company issues or problems without solutions, you'll be looked at as disruptive.

Does “Water-Cooler Talk” Build Rapport? Or Does It Breed Negativity?
Everyone has seen some level of negative effects because of the economy, whether you've had a cutback or salary decrease. But I tell people that we are here to get a job done for Edelbrock. Whatever job that is. You stay positive, and ideally we can all be friends and achieve more. We spend more time working than we do with our own families.

Leading by example gains you respect. Talking at the water cooler does not build rapport. Rapport is built by picking up the broom. Lead from the front. Take out your own trash. People below and above will notice the little things. And it will help you get noticed.

What About Salary? How Does a Young Executive Approach Compensation in This Market?
Many employees feel like a salaried position means longer hours without overtime pay. A young manager needs to be willing to accept those downsides. If you're worried about earning overtime, then you aren't executive material. I don't believe people should get an adjustment based on tenure; you should earn it. If you feel you are deserving of a salary increase, put in on paper and be candid about why. You won't always win that battle, but you'll be able to discuss salary with your management in a positive way."

And What if You're Told “There's No Budget?”
Basic laws of negotiation say not to accept that as an answer. The issue is understandable. Ask then, “When can it be revaluated?” Get a commitment for a date. Ask your management how you can earn an increase. You can't just expect a salary increase based on tenure. I've gotten increases because of merit. I deserved it because of my workload.