ControlTalk Now The HVAC and Smart Building Controls Podcast

Sarah Monteleone, the President of Controls Group North America is my guest this week on Controltalk Now the HVAC and Smart Building Controls Video Cast. Starting her career in controls with Functional Devices, Sarah has worked her way up to becoming the president of Controls Group North America. Controls Group North America is a group of elite HVAC and Smart Buildings control distributors and progressive HVAC manufacturers. Sarah shares the skills needed to lead this group of accomplished individuals, plus the challenges of selling smart building controls in a highly competitive market. Be sure to tune in and join us as we discuss the latest trends, technology, and strategies in HVAC and Smart Building Controls with Sarah Monteleone. It’s sure to be an enlightening conversation! 


This week, Control Talk Now is taking a look at leadership and the skills needed to lead a team of strong personalities without the ability to give raises or fire people. As an example, the host( Eric Stromquist) talks about his younger cousin who was on the fast track at a Fortune 100 company. He was given a billion-dollar project with aggressive and unrealistic goals, and he could not hire or fire anyone nor offer any type of monetary incentive. His success at this project was the ultimate test and it was both challenging and rewarding. The guest this week is someone who is creating great results under the same constraints in the HVAC and smart building controls industry.

The conversation discussed the importance of nonverbal communication in the communication process and the importance of timing in communication. Eric explained the technique of mirroring, which involves adopting the same postures and gestures as the person you are talking to, to create a meaningful connection. This technique can be used to establish rapport and as a timing mechanism called pacing and leading. Eric also suggested that if a conversation is going off the rails, one should shut up, cross their arms and mirror the other person until they follow the nonverbal lead. Eric also mentioned that they are considering offering a nonverbal communication training class and asked listeners to send an email to if they are interested.

John Sublett, the former CTO of Tridium and current chair of the company was interviewed on Control Talk Now. John discussed the early days at Tritium and the lessons he learned along the way. He discussed how technology has changed and evolved since the company first began and how it has impacted the industry. He also discussed how the company has grown and how it has become an industry leader in the process. Sarah Montelione, the president of Cgna, was also featured in the episode. She discussed how Cgna has been supporting the industry as a whole and how they are redefining distribution. She also discussed the various benefits Cgna provides to its members and how they are helping to create real value for customers.

Sarah and the speaker have been friends for 25 years and have worked in the same industry for that time. Sarah is known for her skills in building relationships and making impressions, which the speaker noticed when they first met. Sarah began her journey in wholesale distribution when she completed an internship with a large industrial distributor after college and was offered a sales training program. This began her six-year journey with the company, and she has been working in the industry ever since. The speaker appreciates Sarah's skills and the impact she has had on the industry.


0:00:00 "Leading Without Fear or Money: A Discussion on Leadership with Eric Stranquist"

0:02:38 Nonverbal Communication Tips for Leaders: Mirroring, Pacing, and Leading

0:07:45 New Episode of Legacy Voices  with Eric's guest, John Sublett, CTO of Tritium and this weeks Controltalk Now Guest Sarah Montelione, President of CGNA

0:09:37 Conversation with Sarah, 25-Year Veteran of the Industrial Distribution Industry

0:11:29 Conversation with Sarah Ritman: From Functional Devices to Cgna

0:17:16 Conversation on Developing Relationships and Consensus with Customers and Employees

0:22:19 "Managing Employee Performance: A Conversation with Sarah Smith"

0:27:23 Heading: Benefits of Joining CGNA for Manufacturers

0:29:41 Interview with Sarah Montelone, Cgna Controls: Celebrating 40 Years of Success


But I talked to a vendor recently, and they said, Sarah, we use Cgna to help us launch and sell our product, and fast forward 20 years. We are successful because of the member distributors and the services the organization provides. Okay? That is crazy if you think about that. So for vendors, even mature business vendors, products that have been out for 30 years, Eric, this, more than anybody is technology changes.. Okay? The industry changes. COVID changed things, right? Everything was going e-commerce for years. Guess what? Through COVID, this organization of stocking wholesalers survived and increased their business because they had inventory. And so these vendors, you want to partner with distributors that obviously buy your product, stock it, but also get it specified, support it, technically talk about it. There's absolutely a need for e-commerce.

You know what? First of all, we're celebrating 40 years this year. Congratulations to us. That is crazy, right? It's a major milestone, 40 years. The foundation of Cgna really is still intact. It's a distribution member-owned distribution network with that manufacturer piece and what's. So great. And again, I just joined in June, but I've been a vendor member for my entire career with Functional and Connect Air, who are still part of this organization and actually still selling more products. That's the greatest part.

I know that certain organizations have protocols regarding performance plans and sort of action items when maybe an employee is struggling with the job. But also you need to understand why their performance isn't up to par. It may be understanding, it might not be a situation where the employee is just not doing the job. There may be an issue with that employee doing that job. And it may be a home life situation.. It may be an understanding of the job responsibilities. So figure it out, be respectful, have an honest conversation, and be part of the solution.

There is a lot of mental discussion with myself before that, right? I get all of the emotion out of the way for the most part and really just stick with the facts. Eric right. It's pretty clear-cut today. Everybody's got job responsibilities, and everybody knows what their role is, right? So remove the emotion, be respectful, stick with the facts, and just talk about what the issue is. And I've always been a proponent of second chances, third chances, be part of the solution.

My role at Cgna is really not to transform or convert our members into people with a single thought, idea, direction, or feeling. What makes this group so special and powerful is I'm working with those different personalities, right? And people with different strengths and knowledge. It's the collective differences and collaboration that really provide the results in the direction of Cgna. Right. It's not one person.. So I love the fact that I'm working with a lot of personalities. My role is really listening, guiding, obtaining information, and sometimes refereeing this crowd, right? But ultimately just pulled their words together and put a plan together.