Distribution Trends Top 40 Under 40: Claire Munch
Munch, 30, is the director of customer service for Munch’s Supply
Being born into the Munch family meant Munch’s Supply was a constant fixture in Claire Munch’s life. In fact, the school bus used to drop her off at Munch’s headquarters after school.
As a toddler, she recalls spending countless afternoons in the company’s offices waiting for her dad to finish up for the day.
Despite being a regular at the warehouse, she had zero interest in working in the family business or pursuing a career in the HVAC industry as an adolescent.
While pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a double major in communications from DePaul University, Munch found herself on spring break in 2008, jobless and in need of employment.
“I was 20 years old and in need of a job,” said Munch, now 30 years old. “I asked if there was any work for me to do at Munch’s. My father was concerned about the downturn in the economy and worried that hiring his daughter with the possibility of layoffs looming was not the right thing to do. So, instead, he gave me a small project and promised me six weeks’ worth of work until I could find a more permanent job.”
Munch’s weathered the storm of the economy and did not have to lay off any employees. After her six-week project was complete, she lingered, finding ways to make herself useful. That was 10 years ago. Since then, she’s served two years as an administrative assistant, two years in counter sales, two years as a marketing administrator, two years as an office manager, and the last two years as director of customer service.
“I manage customer-facing departments, including technical support, commercial sales, and inside sales as well as our internal training department,” she said. “I also serve as an escalation point for dealer issues. My previous experiences allow me to help dealers fix an issue regardless of the area of the business that they experienced a failure in. While it’s not always easy being in this type of role, I enjoy being at a level where I am able to resolve just about any issue as well as provide feedback directly to our senior leadership team to make suggestions on how to prevent it from happening in the future.”
Munch cherishes the relationships she’s built with customers over the year.
“I may be biased, but I truly believe we have some of the best customers in the industry and getting to interact with them daily is something I really enjoy,” she said.
While she is the only fourth-generation family member working in the business, she recognizes that her nepotism is not an automatic ticket into ownership.
“My father has made it very clear that nothing will be handed to me and that I must earn my way through the ranks,” Munch said. “I love what I do, and working at Munch’s is where I want to stay. My goal is to continue to learn and build skills that allow me to rise as high in the organization as I can while keeping a focus on maintaining a healthy work-life balance along the way.”
Deeming HVAC distribution as a largely a hidden profession, Munch said the newcomers to the industry are often surprised at how many opportunities are available.
“There is really a career path for just about any skillset and personality type in distribution,” she said. “I think that is why most ‘new kids’ come into the industry and never leave. Contrary to popular belief, I think that we really do work in a cool industry. It checks a lot of boxes for an industry that fuels enthusiasm, such as technology-focused product segments, rapid growth, networking-focused industry organizations, etc. All these things promote excitement and engagement, and I think that shows.”
As a working mother with two boys, there isn’t much free time to be had, but when she does sneak in a second of solitude, Munch does enjoy hitting the road and curling up with an interesting book.
“I try to take advantage of any chance I have to explore a new city,” she said. “I also enjoy reading. Since most of my day is spent talking and listening, I find peace in getting lost in a great book.”