HER MAGAZINE

Women of Achievement: Van Meter's Karmen Wilhelm still aims to keep the customer at the center

Seeing the big picture

“I get to be really involved not only in understanding the customer experience, but in defining and driving what we want it to be in the future,’ says Karmen Wilhelm, vice president of marketing at Van Meter. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
“I get to be really involved not only in understanding the customer experience, but in defining and driving what we want it to be in the future,’ says Karmen Wilhelm, vice president of marketing at Van Meter. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

In her organization, Karmen Wilhelm is known as a person who gets things done.

In nominating Wilhelm for the 2018 HER Women of Achievement awards, her colleagues at Cedar Rapids-based Van Meter noted Wilhelm’s strengths in seeing the big picture, helping others see that vision, and bringing the right people and content together.

“Karmen does a wonderful job at solving complex problems by taking a broad, big-picture view,” wrote Mike Gassmann, chief growth officer for Van Meter.

“She has the ability to look at a business issue and then step back and determine the best possible way to solve it.”

A graduate of Loras College in Dubuque, Wilhelm was an experienced marketing and public relations professional when she joined Van Meter in January 2011.

Today she serves as vice president of marketing for the wholesale electrical supply distributor, leading the company’s marketing and business planning strategies and initiatives.

“It’s been the best eight years of my career,” Wilhelm said. “It’s a special place where I’ve been able to develop my team and give back to the community.”

One of Wilhelm’s signature projects with Van Meter was a major overhaul of the company’s brand. She led research, design and creative components of the endeavor, involving key stakeholders in the process.

“We’ve been in business more than 90 years,” Wilhelm noted. “The original motto has been changed and refined over those 90 years, but still puts the customer at the center of what we do.”

Wilhelm’s efforts earned the company numerous accolades, including several “best of the best” marketing awards from the National Association of Electrical Distributors.

With a strong interest in telling Van Meter’s story and creating a positive customer experience, Wilhelm’s work in the last year has included conducting customer research, improving the digital customer experience and developing onboarding and training initiatives to help employees understand their role in the company’s brand strategy.

“I get to be really involved not only in understanding the customer experience, but in defining and driving what we want it to be in the future,” she said.

Wilhelm said the key to her professional success has been the teams that she has built and leveraged to achieve key business goals.

“The one thing I want people to know about me in a leadership role is my focus on building my best team,” she said.

“I have a phenomenal team of people. The more I ask of them and the more responsibility I give them, the more they step up. It’s rewarding to watch them succeed and develop and then take on new challenges.”

In the community, Wilhelm pursues a passion for her environment through her extensive work with Trees Forever, including past service as a board member. She previously was recognized by that organization as volunteer of the year.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

“I want to help others recognize their responsibility in preserving our planet,” she said.

She also serves as a classroom instructor for Junior Achievement of East Central Iowa and advocates for women in leadership roles as a board member for the Women Lead Change — Corridor Women Connect program.

• Once a month, Business 380 has spotlighted some of HER magazine’s Women of Achievement, published by The Gazette. The awards were sponsored by Farmers State Bank.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Want to join the conversation?

Consider subscribing to TheGazette.com and participate in discussing the important issues to our community with other Gazette subscribers.

Already a Gazette or TheGazette.com subscriber? Just login here with your account email and password.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.