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Alumni Profiles

Larry Kilan

Larry Kilian

Pilon School of Business
Year of Graduation: 1976
Program: Business Administration - Marketing & Sales

European Adventure

Career Summary

After graduation, I worked in my father’s business for two years at which time I faced a crossroads: invest in the business and make a long-term commitment, or look to do something else — I chose the latter. Telling your father that any succession plans he had for his son to take over his business were not going to happen was likely the most difficult thing I have ever had to do. Sheridan prepared me for the fact that you sometimes have to make difficult decisions and this was certainly one of them.

As part of my job search, I made a visit to Sheridan to talk to Dave Tinker, one of my Marketing instructors, and to visit the Career Center. Dave referred me to Safety Supply Canada, where at least two other Sheridan classmates were working. A few months later, I was hired as one of four management trainees and my career in the distribution industry was underway.

I spent a total of 14 years at Safety Supply Canada, Canada’s leading distributor of occupational health and safety products. In 1991, the business was sold to Acklands and I took a major step for our family to re-locate to the U.S. to work for one of our suppliers, Dalloz Safety. We moved to Pittsburgh in January of 1992 and I assumed my role as Director of Sales for Miller Equipment, a division of Dalloz Safety. In 2000, I was offered a position in Paris, France, as VP of our European fall protection business. After two years of my three-year assignment in France with Bacou-Dalloz, I had an opportunity to join SPC International, a U.S. based business with a growing subsidy in Belgium.

I have since spent five years in Belgium managing the international business of SPC, responsible for all business outside of the Americas. In August of 2007, I relocated from Belgium to New Jersey as the General Manager of the recently acquired Sorbent business.

Faculty Member Who Impacted My Life The Most

Obviously, the referral by Dave Tinker was instrumental in my getting involved in the safety-products industry, which I never would have done otherwise. It is not a very high-profile industry to the general public and would typically not be on the list of the average grad’s employment prospects, but it is an important industry and one that you can be proud to be associated with. Our products save lives and make the world a safer place for people at work and at play.

Greatest Sheridan Memory

Being selected by my peers and instructors to be a member of the Sheridan team chosen to represent the college in the Inter-collegiate Industrial Marketing Competition in Toronto. We ended up winning the competition and brought home the General Electric Cup, the award for excellence in industrial marketing. It was a great learning experience and instilled in me the understanding that ‘Teamwork Makes The Dream Work’ – a value I continue to emphasize with others I work with to this day.

Accomplishments

There are two things I am proud of outside of my business life. First, balancing family with a busy career and helping to raise two daughters with my wife of 27 years. At the end of the day, this is what really matters. Secondly, while living in Europe I developed a passion for travel photography as a way to capture the people and places that make the world such a fascinating place. A few of the images have been published and/or have won special recognition. I have recently published a book, entitled My Belgium, which is a collection of images by an expat for expats. www.lkilianphotography.com

Advice for Sheridan Grads

Go global: it will change your perspective of the world and that of your children. If you have an opportunity to work abroad, as scary as it may be, do it for you and do it for your family. The experience my daughter gained living in France and Belgium was the greatest gift we could have given her.

Current Occupation: Brady Corp. General Manager, SPC Sorbent Division