Age: 35
Company: Franklin Electric
Title: Product manager — Little Giant wastewater/plumbing

How long have you been in the PHCP-PVF industry?
Six years.  

What drew you into the industry?
I grew up in a family of home renovation professionals where I learned early on the importance of assuring a home’s plumbing systems have what they need to function properly. When it came time to choose my own career path, I studied engineering, focusing mostly on hydraulic and machine design. Joining Little Giant was a natural blend of my interests, background and experiences. I get to solve problems in new ways.

What is the most rewarding aspect of working in the industry?
There is nothing better than working on solutions that directly improve people’s lives. Our products protect and elevate the standard of living for real people no matter where they live – big cities, rural town, growing communities. Every building or home has water coming in and waste going out. It is fundamental to new development. I really value that at Little Giant we work so closely with our end users, getting to hear about their needs and how we can help them.

What is one thing you wish more people knew/understood about the PHCP-PVF industry?
I wish more people understood how essential what we do is to their daily lives. Until something goes wrong, the people and products our industry supports are often taken for granted. It takes a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience to work on the frontline of this industry and be an installer. That’s another thing I value about working for Franklin Electric – the amount of work we put into recognizing and highlighting the people in our industry.

What has been the proudest moment in your career so far?
It’s not PHVAC specific, but - I’ve designed hydraulic seals for an intercontinental nuclear ballistic missile. That’s always a conversation starter.

I also love talking to people about business. I built and ran a small business from the ground up – Tree Service. I learned what it takes to build a profitable business, and that continues to give me a deep level of respect for entrepreneurs and tradespeople.  

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?
I enjoy learning and building new things. I’m a trained machinist, certified welder, car & boat mechanic, trained fixed-wing pilot, martial arts enthusiast, home plumber, electrician, and carpenter. I also have my bachelor’s in mechanical engineering and an MBA.

Why he was chosen as a Next Gen All Star Top 20 Under 40 winner:
“Jeff Wilder has been on a path to be a Plumbing Group ‘Nex Gen All-Star’ for much of his life. He grew up in a family of real estate and home restoration professionals where he learned from his father the importance of ensuring a home’s plumbing systems have what they need to function properly. He also saw first-hand the work that goes into running a business. When it came time to choose his own career path, he combined his love of fixing with his interest in business — pursuing first a mechanical engineering degree followed by an MBA, both from Purdue University Fort Wayne.

“Today, he uses this background to develop and oversee the commercialization of critical residential and light commercial Little Giant pumps as part of the Franklin Electric Wastewater team. He manages a complex $40 million B2B and B2C global product portfolio while always being mindful of the end goal: Assuring homeowners have the water they need, the way they need it.  

“His background in mechanical engineering, project management and research and development gives him unparalleled insight into the inner workings of the products that he oversees and allows him to communicate effectively the features of Little Giant products to his team in a way that best positions them to take the items to market. Taking this approach helps to provide the market with the most useful and digestible product knowledge and applications. As the plumbing industry looks to help nurture and support younger professionals, Jeff strives to create a customer friendly offering of products aimed to these newer and constantly learning individuals,” says Logan Wiening, marketing strategist for Franklin Electric.