When you talk to this year's winner of the GEM Rising Star Award about the path he has taken in the electrical business, you quickly see one thing: The life experiences this guy has had inside and outside of the electrical business have given him a really, really solid foundation to lead his rep agency into the future.

Mike Cuddy, president of Renaissance Electrical Marketing Inc., or RENMARK as it's known in the western Pennsylvania and West Virginia markets, has quite a resume. Before founding RENMARK, he worked at WESCO's corporate headquarters in Pittsburgh for a total of 10 years in marketing, purchasing, product management, pricing and national accounts. When he started out there, they just handed him an order pad, calculator, phone and a pen, and told him to start taking orders. He learned the rep business from two terrific mentors, first while covering West Virginia for Mark Madia at Madia Paul in West Virginia, and then from the legendary Jack Daniels at Daniels Associates Inc. At Daniels Associates, he and Jack built a rep agency with a strong wire focus, including lines from Futronix/HWC, United Copper, Alpha Wire and King Wire.

But there's more to Cuddy than just his career in the electrical business. He says his dad, Jack Cuddy, who passed away in January, taught him to deal with the “tough stuff” in life, and to do things right the first time. There's the life he leads at home with his wife, MaryAnn, and three children, Melissa, Maggie and Michael.

And there's hockey. A collegiate player at St. Bonaventure University, where he earned a B.A. degree in philosophy and political science, Mike steps on the ice at 6 a.m. for one team and at 11 p.m. some nights for another club. Whether it's digging pucks out of the corner for his hockey teams or leading his team into the field at RENMARK, Mike approaches life with a infectious tenacity and zest for life.

He likes to joke that RENMARK is only closed for a couple of hours a day, because he usually sends his last e-mail by midnight or one in the morning, and his partner, Phil Hollern, is at his computer by 4 a.m. each day.

Cuddy is effusive in his praise of his team at RENMARK and says that without the salespeople and support staff in the Pennsylvania and West Virginia offices, the company would not have grown as quickly into a player in the commercial, industrial utility and OEM markets, nor would it have honed its expertise in the wire and cable, power quality, circuit protection and safety markets.