COMPANY: SpaceGuard Products, Inc.
YEARS ON JOB: 10 years
I began my career with SpaceGuard Products as the Vice President of Sales in 2008, right before the bottom dropped out of the market. I had to make some very difficult staffing decisions to allow us to survive during those years. I saw drastic changes forthcoming in our distributor network and therefore needed to react quickly with a plan to sustain business despite the attrition and bankruptcies that followed. After successfully navigating those challenges, I purchased SpaceGuard in January 2012 with a plan to invigorate our marketing, innovate our products, and upgrade our technology and equipment. I relish the fact that no two days are ever the same. I may be in the field with a customer one day, only to fly back to our factory to negotiate insurance premiums. I may start my morning on the factory floor working on product innovations, only to leave later in the day to meet with a material or service supplier. I take every new project as a unique challenge, and love the hard work it takes to succeed.
A Career in Material Handling
I’ve actually spent most of my career in material handling. I began my career as an intern with Humantech where I provided ergonomic and productivity analysis and solutions to our customers. This experience was unparalleled as I personally visited a wide variety of industrial customers and listened to the daily challenges management and their employees faced. I still look back at copies of the reports I wrote back then when I see similar challenges at my own company. My internship ultimately opened the door for some amazing years with General Motors’ Stamping Division. At GM, I held various engineering and facility management roles that put me on the purchasing side of material handling equipment with regional distributors and integrators. I learned directly about the many obstacles that often delay purchasing decisions at a large corporate customer which now helps me support and empathize with our distributors.
While the nature of interpersonal communication has changed drastically over the last 20-years of my career, the foundation of what is important has remained unchanged. I still believe in people answering the phone instead of an automated system. I also still believe strongly in face-to-face interaction. While it has become increasingly difficult to schedule office meetings, I rely heavily on video conferencing to sustain personal connections regardless of where I’m at in the world. Our company also provides direct support in the field for our distributor salespeople, causing a number of us to be on the road constantly. We rely on brief, but clear, telephone, video conferencing, email, and even text messaging while on the road to support our customers and the rest of the team.
Our customer base is diverse, beyond just material handling, and the applications for our products are endless. This forced me to create custom online quoting and customer-management software that fit our specific needs. The software allows customers, as well as my sales team, to create custom configurations of our guarding and storage products to visualize what they are actually ordering. It also provides real-time training as the design constraints are built in for even the novice buyer. Internally it has reduced the average time it takes to build a quotation by 75%, saving the valuable time of our staff so they can better support and follow up with our distributors using the CRM within the application.