Longtime industry leader and founder of Wiltrout Sales, Thomas Wiltrout, passed away peacefully on Sunday, March 13, 2022, after a fight with cancer that spanned over 20 years. Over that time, he won so many battles, it renders cancer’s eventual victory practically meaningless.
Tom started in the electrical industry as a purchasing agent with Burnstine’s Distributing Corp. in 1973. From there he began his career as a Manufacturer’s Representative in 1976, working first as an outside salesperson for other agencies before starting his own agency, Wiltrout Sales, in 1984 with his wife Margaret in the spare bedroom of their home. He credits his affiliation with NEMRA (National Electrical Manufacturers Representative Association) and its members for his early success in attracting electrical manufacturers looking for representation in the state of Indiana.
Soon after starting Wiltrout Sales, he saw a need for professional training and development in the Manufacturer’s Representative industry. To meet this need, he partnered with a group of educators and representatives from other industries to form MRERF (Manufacturers Representative Education and Research Foundation). From those early meetings came the Certified Professional Manufacturers Representative (CPMR) training and designation program, which is now governed by The Institute for Professional Advancement (IPA). Tom was instrumental in developing the curriculum for the three-year training program that candidates must complete to earn the CPMR designation and was a member of the first class to complete the course and receive the designation in 1993.
In the years following the formation of the CPMR program, Tom continued to serve his industry as a board member of MRERF, IPA, the NEMRA Board of Governors and has served as both Treasurer and President of the organization’s Indiana Chapter. Additionally, Tom enjoyed a lengthy relationship with the Electric League of Indiana (ELI) and served as Chairman for the Indiana Electrical EXPO ’93.
Wiltrout Sales continues operations to this day, now led by Tom’s son, Tim, who purchased the company upon Tom’s retirement in 2015. Though officially retired, Tom continued serving as a consultant and mentor in the industry while also volunteering in the cancer wards of St. Vincent, IU North, and Community North hospitals until March of 2020; only a global pandemic could slow him down.
Tom lived and worked according to a simple set of rules: work hard, do it right, tell the truth and have some fun. He trained and mentored many people who are leaders in the industry today and was fond of saying that he learned more from the people he worked with than he could ever teach them. He is survived by his loving wife of 55 years, Margaret Mary (Jackson) Wiltrout, sons Michael Wiltrout, Indianapolis, IN (married to Karen Wiltrout [Mesalam] and father of Jackson and Ruby Wiltrout) and Timothy Wiltrout, Zionsville, IN (father of Joseph, Nicholas and Peter) and daughter-in-law Katie Connor.