Ever since I graduated from the University of North Carolina – Charlotte, I’ve dedicated my career to the material handling industry. I got my start working for a local AGV company where I spent over a decade as a project manager. A year and a half ago, I decided that it was time for a new challenge and left the AGV company for Advanced Equipment Company (AEC) and a system sales/integration position.
The integration aspect of my job is similar to what I was used to, but the sales aspect proved to be a new twist. I am responsible for finding the customer, selling the project and managing its integration. AEC salespeople are essentially 1-man sales and integration teams, but we all rely on each other for new perspectives and bouncing ideas off each other to find the best solution. Coming from an engineering and project management background, I knew how rewarding that part of the job would be. I quickly found out that the sales process can be equally rewarding. Our customers have lots of options, especially in this market, so when they decide to go with me, it means a lot.
Unfortunately, as is the case with most integrators, those wins have been more difficult to come by the last year. Customers are reining in their purse strings and being much more discriminating in regard to systems purchasing. That means I’m working twice as hard to make sure that when they do spend money, it’s with AEC. Each day, the first thing I do when I come in is scour the Web for local industry news as well as use social networking to find new contacts in my area. It’s proven to be a very effective way to find targets in my territory. If someone is opening a building or expanding a facility, I want to be the first to know about it—and the first to call them.
Beyond that, the key has been simply going back to the basics, just staying in front of the customer. I’ve spent a great deal of time ingraining myself with the local beverage, pharmaceutical and food industries. Whether its addressing customers’ safety issues or finding labor reduction solutions, there will be projects out there that need the services that we provide. The challenge is finding them and making the right contacts within that organization. Fortunately, working for a company like AEC and the relationships we have with our suppliers makes that challenge a bit less daunting. AEC has been in this region for 50 years, and customers know that it’s not a fly-by-night company. It’s a legacy I’m proud of and one that I plan on continuing.