What do you DO exactly?
Reflections on nearly 10 years at Alloy.
The title of this blog post comes from a question that I received from an engineer at a vendor of ours regarding a project we were working on. Another person in sales here was in my office when I got asked that question and after I explained “a little bit of everything” and helped him get an answer to his question, we had a good laugh when we had cleared the phone line.
The refrain “what DO you do?” made the rounds around the office for a little while providing more good laughs. However, around here, a more accurate question is to ask, “what DON’T you do?”
Working at Alloy is unlike any other job I have heard of. It is a very interesting experience, getting to serve the multibillion dollar rendering part of the nearly trillion-dollar global meat industry. There are only a handful of companies around the world that do what we do. Rendering equipment is a niche of a niche marketplace and requires years of training and experience to understand and still more to master.
I am a long way from that mastery, but I have had the fantastic opportunity to learn from Alloy’s experienced team, many of whom have greater than 30 or 40 years of experience in the industry. My role for the company has changed a few times, from Inside Sales to Direct Sales and now Project Management, along the way I have been able to learn a great deal about materials, electronics, process engineering, global commerce, commodities trading, trade shows, web design, customer outreach, human resource management, and probably a dozen other things or more.
What I have taken away from it all is that some of the most kind, courteous, and professional people in the world are in this business. With millions of pounds of product and thousands of people on their back, the ones who really need things to work right understand the most about what happens when things go wrong and how to put practical solutions into action.
Working at Alloy, one thing I can certainly say I am particularly proud of is that “that’s not my job” is not a phrase I think I have ever heard said and taken seriously. Working here requires just about everyone to understand one another’s jobs for maximum success. This is the same approach that we take when working with our customers. Sure, there are occasions where we get a phone call from a customer who was familiar with our equipment and they ask us to build a machine, give us a purchase order, we ship it, and they run it and tell us “thanks, works great” and we don’t hear from them outside of parts purchases.
Much more often, our relationships with our customers are longer processes that involve getting to know the individuals who are making the decision about a purchase, be they ownership or corporate executive, engineering manager or farmer looking to expand operations. In these cases, it is necessary to get to know the people just as well as learning about the process, desired product, and budgetary concerns they have. This is done in many places and times. Convention hall floors, hotel meeting rooms, sites barely carved out of a wilderness, massive industrial complexes, and kitchen tables.
Personally, Alloy has sent me all over the Western Hemisphere and given me the opportunity to meet some of the nicest, most practical people in the world. I have had the privilege of working with leaders in their fields, working hard to feed growing populations and keep profitable businesses that enrich their families’ lives.
Some things I have seen might surprise others. Anyone who says that women cannot lead in tough, dangerous environments has never seen the poultry industry in Central America, where many female plant managers and engineers are successful and respected. Anyone who says that racial diversity is not conducive to a successful working environment has never seen a meatpacking plant with the signage in 6 languages and the shared goal of coming home at night safely with a decent wage. Anyone who says that you cannot take a 24 year old who does not know what the letters OEM stand for and turn them into a useful member of the leadership of a manufacturing company clearly does not know my story.
Opportunity is what you make of it, and Alloy has given me an awful lot of opportunity. Now in our 70th year of existence and nearly my 10th year of working here, I can tell you that this place is measuring, drawing, welding, emailing, shipping, and supporting – it’s all of those things and more to be sure – but it’s also home and family and opportunity.
Thanks for reading and for being a part of the story.
To answer the original question, I hope my answer is, “whatever I can to help.”