Name: Brenda Harrison
Title: Senior Project Account Specialist
Company: AK Material Handling Systems
Location: Maple Grove, MN
Years on Job: 23
I started working at AK Material Handling Systems in June of 1989, when I was just a kid. There were only three of us in the office and I wore dozens of different hats. I answered the phones, did all the clerical work and then headed out to the warehouse and threw a 12 ft. beam over my shoulder and started loading trucks. I have grown up with this company and I take enormous pride in having seen it evolve from just the three of us into this phenomenal team. As we have grown, my responsibilities have grown as well. I can honestly say that even after 23 years, I still love my job and still learn something new every day.
1. Project Coordination
A big part of my job is working directly with customers, where I excel in working with grocery retailers and project coordinating. I determine exactly what they are looking for and what we can do to fulfill that need.I work with the customer every step of the way, from the initial project takeoff, to creating the quotations, modifying CAD drawings, and through the coordination of delivery and project scheduling to ensure the success of the installation. I work to make sure that all the schedules are being met and that everything gets completed correctly and in a timely fashion.
Without strong communication skills I would be lost. Part of being an effective communicator is being a good listener. Often, customers know exactly how to visualize a project but don’t know how to explain it. I have to make sure that I am asking the proper questions. When a project is finished it should look exactly how the customer pictured it in their head. Depending on the size of the project, I may be coordinating with a dozen different groups including the salesmen, multiple carriers hammering out different shipping points, the installation team and the onsite customer contact heading up the project. All of these groups have to work in harmony to make that vision a reality.
When coordinating schedules for all of our salespeople and ensuring timely deliveries, proper organization is paramount. The first thing that I do every day is look at the schedules. What do we have coming up? Timing is so important and I have to stay on top of everything to make sure that nothing slips through the cracks. I keep all of the installation schedules in Excel and send out the schedule to the entire sales force and installation crew on a weekly basis. I also use iCal and email constantly to keep in touch with all parties involved.
Last year our company went completely paperless and equipped everybody with iPads. By continuing to update our systems to the latest technology, we have eliminated potential errors and gained 20 percent more production allowing me to focus on other aspects of the project needed to get the job done. We pride ourselves on our experience, accountability and our commitment to get the job done professionally and efficiently.