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Get to know Ian Holt: 35 years with Tennant | Tennant

This month, we’re celebrating one of Tennant’s longest serving employees, Ian Holt.

Ian has worked under the Tennant brand, including Tennant ANZ and Tennant Co in the U.S. for 35 years!

We’ve asked him a few questions about his adventures working with Tennant in Australia and abroad, plus hear his thoughts around what it takes to achieve long-term success in a role.

From Australia to the U.S., around the world, and back again
Over the last 35 years of working with Tennant, Ian has held 5 major jobs, with roughly 7 years in each role. In that time, he’s been based in 3 locations - Sydney, Minneapolis, and Melbourne.

Even though Ian is currently based in Australia, he technically works as a country manager and training manager for the American branch of Tennant Co (and hasn’t worked for the Australian branch since the early 90s!). 

But it all began in Sydney when he joined Tennant on December 3, 1994 as a sales rep. Ian worked hard in that role for four years before moving to Victoria, where he was promoted to state manager.

A couple of years later, while still based in Melbourne, Ian moved into another role. This time he was in the international or export department, where he was hired as the area manager for what was then called the Far East. 

After a series of changes, in 1999, Ian moved to Minneapolis, along with his wife and three year old son. He took a role as the training manager based out of Tennant Co’s head office. His job there involved training all the sales reps that came through the North American and Canadian branches. Meanwhile, regularly flying back to Australia (and occasionally to Europe) to run training there, as well. 

In 2007, Ian returned to Melbourne to resettle his family in Australia, where he moved into his current roles as the Asia Pacific Training Manager and Korea Country Manager.

Juggling two roles and a busy travel schedule
As Tennant’s Country Manager for Korea, he works closely with the sole Tennant distributor in Korea that he helped establish 27 years ago. They’re also the biggest individual Tennant distributor in the world. He helps to develop their business, monitor their activities, and increase their sales.

The other half of Ian’s role is as the Asia Pacific Sales Training Manager. As the longest serving Tennant employee in the region, he knows just about everything there is to know about the Asia Pacific area (and the business). His training includes everything from product knowledge to sales skills.

Ian does about 20 overseas trips each year, regularly visiting Korea, China, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, and occasionally New Zealand. Back in Australia, he runs training courses for Tennant ANZ and attends sales and service conferences when he can.

The biggest difference working in Tennant today compared to 35 years ago
Back when Ian started with Tennant as a sales rep, he had to know where all the public telephones were - the ones that weren’t broken! He had to always have 20c pieces in his pocket ready to go. 

This was, of course, pre-computer and pre-cell phone. Around 25 years ago, big brick mobile phones started to come out and times quickly changed as these became smaller and more accessible, evolving into the smartphones we all have today.

Despite the convenience (no more public telephones or loose change!) Ian doesn’t think that cell phones have been all that great for sales teams or professionals. It was much better before then because you could have a free day without worrying about the phone ringing all the time.

“Now our smartphones are surgically attached to our arms. Every human born in the last 25 years has their left arm at 90 degrees to their body so it can be slipped into their hand,” said Ian.

Being successful in a new role
Despite being with Tennant for 35 years, Ian has changed roles many times. He offered some advice to new people about to join Tennant or another company:

  1. Understand what’s expected of you
  2. Exceed those expectations
  3. Constantly communicate (face-to-face, if possible) to everybody about where you want to go inside the company

On that last point - he believes that this piece of advice is key to how he achieved his career goals while working with Tennant. 

“When I communicated with my boss about what I wanted to do, it opened doors to other areas.”

“Back in 1987, I got to know the export manager based in America because he came to Australia. I started talking to him about possible positions inside of the export department. So consequently, I ended up getting an inside running for the export manager’s job in the Far East.”

This was especially key as an Australian because up until this point, the team only consisted of Americans.

Why and how to stick with one company long-term
Ian worries about trends towards younger workers taking a short-term view of their role. He’s concerned that they’re not going to get the broad experience that’s needed to really understand the company and move into leadership. 

But he’s got some interesting insights and strategies for workers who want to move forward in their career and experience new things, while staying loyal to the same company.

“Most Millennials think they’re only going to stay with a company for 2-3 years. They think I’m a dinosaur for being in the same company for 35 years.”

“But why not change your position every 2-3 years, instead? When you get broad experience across different departments, you’re suddenly the go-to person for your company and you can do whatever you want.”

“I’ve stayed with Tennant and they’ve given me everything I needed.”

What’s next for Ian?
Ian’s looking forward to retiring in the next 5 years. He has every intention of staying in his current role until he’s ready to hang up the work tools and spend more time on his out-of-work hobbies.

Ian already does a few things in his spare time. He flies gliders and also has a 1932 Ford he likes to drive around. And he enjoys woodworking and making high quality furniture. So when the time comes, there’ll be plenty to keep him busy and out of the house!

Thank you so much, Ian, for sharing your story with us! But thank you especially for your decades of hard work and dedication to helping the Tennant brand grow - from Australia to the U.S. and beyond.

Tennant Company is a recognized leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. With a vision to become a global leader in sustainable cleaning innovation that empowers our customers to create a cleaner, safer and healthier world, Tennant creates solutions that are changing the way the world cleans. Tennant products include equipment used to maintain indoor and outdoor surfaces, as well as TennantTrue® financing solutions, equipment parts, service, and maintenance to help ensure superior cleaning performance from your Tennant machines.

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