097. Hero – Daniel Vaughn, Product Service Representative at EECO Transcript

Daniel: 00:00

It’s a neat opportunity to be able to go and see these customers where these raw materials are put together and be able to be put together to make this amazing product. And then I’m able to play just the smallest little part to be able to ensure that their process is smooth and goes off without a hitch. My why is definitely to be able to serve and inspire and help my friends, which are my customers. 

Chris: 00:22

Welcome to EECO Asks Why. The podcast that dives into industrial manufacturing topics, spotlights heroes to keep America running. I’m your host, Chris Grainger, and on this podcast, we do not cover the latest features and benefits on products that come to market instead. We focus on advice and insight from the top minds of industry because people and ideas will be how America remains number one in manufacturing in the world. 

Welcome to EECO Asks Why. Today, we’re having a fun hero episode with Mr. Daniel Vaughn, who is a Product Service Representative at EECO. Daniel, welcome. 

Daniel: 00:59

Oh, it’s great to be here, Chris. Thanks so much for your time today. 

Chris: 01:02

Absolutely man. We love these hero episodes where we get to learn more about the people that are working in the manufacturing and supporting manufacturing and just really looking forward to spending some time with you. So maybe just start us off. We’d like to start these episodes, just giving our listeners just a little bit of insight to your journey to the role that you’re in now.

Daniel: 01:20

Absolutely. My professional career, I have always held positions whether in operations or sales even in sales operations positions. And with that, I’ve been able to be primarily focused in the software realm and software automation. With that, I had a good friend who worked at the current company I worked for, her name was Andrea and she recruited me. 

One of the things that really brought me over. To the company I’m working with now is the family, the comradery, and really the people I had never been with a company that had been with so many tenured employees. I come from a software world where a lot of tech startups, where you’re lucky to be in a job for six months.

So when I started meeting people that have been with the company for 40 years, I was like, what’s going on with this company? Why would someone stay with the company 40 years? What’s so special about that. And it’s just been a great family experience ever since. And I truly mean that, and I’ve really just had a great time with the company that I’ve been here.

Chris: 02:13

Very good. Now, where were you at before? 

Daniel: 02:16

So I was with a company called EnterBridge Technologies. We provided software distribution solutions for a variety of different customers. We worked with distributor ships and a variety of different manufacturers across the country and in Europe. 

Chris: 02:29

Okay. Now, did you have, where did you go to school? That Daniel. 

Daniel: 02:33

So I actually got my bachelor’s degree in business marketing and actually did that while I was working here in Richmond, Virginia, and I went to university of Phoenix online. 

Chris: 02:43

Well, outstanding. So you are working and going to school. I bet that was a lot to manage at one time. Huh? 

Daniel: 02:48

It sure was, it was not a lot of sleep for four years. I’ll tell you that much. 

Chris: 02:52

Now the, on the marketing side. So it’s business marketing, you said is the degree? 

Daniel: 02:57

It is. 

Chris: 02:58

Okay. What did you enjoy about that marketing part of your curriculum? 

Daniel: 03:01

I love the creative side. I love people. I love talking to people. That’s why a lot of times I’ve been in an operations or sales role is I love being around people. I love being creative. I love finding problems and be able to try to find solutions. And marketing really helps you to be able to take those challenges and to be able to make clear solutions. And that’s what I really enjoyed. I’ve always enjoyed working in business and it just so happens. I’ve really kind of been in an industrial manufacturing role for almost my entire career. 

Chris: 03:31

Okay. Okay. We’re trying to with EECO Asks Why is to inspire people. To give them a sense of purpose and advice. So if you had some advice for that young individual that’s looking to enter this field, what would that be?

Daniel: 03:45

Sure. My key focuses is to really find what you love to do and what you love to read about and study about. Whether it may be electrical engineering, whether it may be reliability and safety. There’s so many different things in our industry that we have to work on, and there’s so many different opportunities.

My recommendation is just to find something that you enjoy working on that you enjoy reading about and learning about, and stick as close to that topic as you can, because you’ll really be happy in whatever you choose to do. 

Chris: 04:15

No doubt. Now, what about you? What are you curious about right now? What are you reading and studying? 

Daniel: 04:20

Really one of the big things I’ve been focused on is really the future of what is the world going to. And it’s really automation in every way. Things that I have to see is more and more customers that I go in. I see more and more robots every month. For every different customer that I go to. It doesn’t matter if it’s a food manufacturer or an automobile manufacturer, whatever it may be.

But I love the really to study about automation, to be able to how is it making things better, faster, safer, not only for companies, but for employees and to be able to be a part of that. So that way in the future, I can be part of that team to be able to make those solutions for our customers. 

Chris: 04:58

Okay. So along that path, what are some resources that you use to help with that study? You were trying to give our listeners some practical, I can go here and look at this to get that right. So what would that be? 

Daniel: 05:11

Sure. So variety of different things. One of the big things I like to look on and easiest things is Google. The internet is always going to be an, a great resource and tool that we can search whatever is on our mind and what we’re thinking about at the time. 

So Google for sure. A lot of the things I love to read about is the earning statements for a lot of the customers that I’m interested in. All public companies will have quarterly earnings statements where they’ll really go into great detail about a company on what are they investing in?

What are they working on? What’s the future look like? How much revenue are they looking to gain. Things like that. So I really like looking at the earnings reports. These are public documents that are released every quarter for the largest companies in the world. And some of the smallest companies in the world, as long as they’re public companies.

So those are the things that I really look for and that way I can get industry trends on where’s the future going for these customers and these customers that I like to be able to read about. 

Chris: 06:05

No doubt, man. One thing that, that I’ve done in my past is take those earning reports. Study them. Cause a lot of times they give you insight to, future goals where they’re trying to move as a corporation. And if you can go meet with an user with practical and actually relevant details about their corporation and tied all together that you actually know and that you care. And man, I’ve had some really meaningful conversations just by going that extra step. So hats off to you, man. 

Daniel: 06:35

You got thank you, Chris. 

Chris: 06:37

So what projects get you excited, man. When you look at the future where do you get that excitement at when you’re out there in the plants? 

Daniel: 06:44

One of the biggest things I’ve seen, things that I’m excited about is really just as we’ve talked about the automation space. One of the primary roles I have with the company I’m with is storeroom solutions. 

We have a customer that actually has an automated storeroom where it’s still manned by an individual, but essentially all the storage containers and the entire catalog is all done by a machine. We’re all a human has to do is push a button with a number and they can actually pull any part out of storage and to be put right in his hand to be able to get on the floor.

So I love to see the automation side, where everything’s being automated. Whether it’s building products, the storeroom solutions, whatever it may be. And I see in a very short amount of time in the next few years that storeroom solutions can really be manned and automated by a robot where a worker can come and actually just do a thumb print or an eye scan and actually just put in whatever he needs. 

Whether it’s conduit, whether it’s fittings, whether it’s a drive, whatever it may be. And it can be just so at a push of a button, an automated robot will go pull the product. That’s actually cataloged in the storehouse and deliver it to that employee right in his hands.

Chris: 07:52

Yeah. That’s pretty cool. So you actually seen that in place and working in the plants that you service. 

Daniel: 07:58

I have. 

Chris: 07:59

Man. I bet that is intense, man. So yeah, 

Daniel: 08:01

It really is. It’s a neat thing to see, and it’s just amazing. Just the technology. Just in the last few years that we’ve been able to obtain and to be able to really help streamline our operations and to hopefully make everyone’s life a little bit easier.

Chris: 08:14

Absolutely. Absolutely. And you cover like we mentioned a large territory you’re in Virginia. You cover primarily from 95 down towards Tidewater. Large footprint. What are you seeing as some of those, the biggest challenges in your area for industry right now? 

Daniel: 08:29

Sure. With the VMI numbers is we’re looking across the United States, we’ve seen manufacturing really not grow as much as we would like to. We’ve seen budget constraints is probably our primary struggle that we’ve seen with our customers.

Is manufacturing is still primarily been continuing to transfer overseas, more and more and it’s taking business from us here in the United States. And with that, when we’re not able to produce as much as we would like we’re not able to spend as much as our customers would like.

So with that, working with our customers, with their budgets to ensure they get everything they need, but in the price that they need it. 

Chris: 09:04

Right. Absolutely. There are definitely a lot of challenges out there. Do you see, have you run across we’ve got this feedback a few times, and I’m just curious on what you’re seeing so far as aging workforce and we’re people retiring and there don’t have that backfill, particularly in these automation type roles. Have you run across that in any of the plants that you service? 

Daniel: 09:25

Definitely have Chris. And one of the biggest challenges is not only having an older workforce. It’s actually just being able to hire anyone new. And that includes even older employees or a new older workforce. We see customers that have a established workforce, that’s been with the customer for a long time, but once they’re gone, they have not been able to backfill at all. 

Even whether it’s someone right out of high school or right outside of college. Or someone that’s been in the industry for 30 or 40 years. It’s just been a struggle to hire at any age and at any skillset to be able to back fill these positions. Essentially customers are working with the employees they have, and that’s all they have. And that’s been a huge challenge. 

Chris: 10:12

No doubt. And I think we’re going to continue to see that man. So we have to be able to support and help, with from a networking standpoint, connect people the best we can and, be resourced for all the plants. And we’re hoping with this podcast series that we’re going to inspire those and bring more people to this industry. 

And then as we go to industry and we go in our careers, there’s usually a couple people that we can lean back on and say, Hey, they’ve really helped us. Do you have any mentors out there that you’d like to give a shout out to?

Daniel: 10:41

Absolutely. My current boss has been absolutely phenomenal. His name is Brian. He has really been just the best mentor in the industry that I could ever hope for. He has ensured that I’ve been able to receive all of the training that I’ve needed. And he’s always made sure that I’ve been kept abreast of any new industry trends, knowledge and the merely be able to be at the forefront to be able to be a product level expert and to be able to help these services that our customers need be able to get in the door and be able to talk intelligently about them.

Chris: 11:11

Then that would not be Mr. Logan, would it? 

Daniel: 11:15

That sure would be. 

Chris: 11:16

Oh, wow. Okay. So I’ll have to talk to him on the side. I’ve had a couple of guests who have give him a shout as a mentor. So I’m not sure how he’s paying you guys, but that’s great, you know, and I say that, cause I know Brian’s listening and you know, I love you. So, there’s that so, man, that’s a great, you’re a great shout out there. Daniel, where do you, when do you get the most fulfillment in that moment that you’re the happiest? What are you doing? 

Daniel: 11:43

Believe it or not. It’s after the job is done and I’m able to receive feedback from the customer. I love that moment is that when you have done a good job, that you know you’ve done a good job that it’s completed and that a customer comes back when the customer calls you. Whether the customer emails you as a customer texts as you. Whatever it may be and be able to actually tell you that, Hey, you have done a great job.

Hey, you’ve done better than any other manufacturer vendor we’ve ever dealt with. Things like that give me some of the biggest satis faction that I could ever hope for. To know that the job got done. It got done. It’s completed, but also to be able to have that satisfaction from the customer. I love to be able to hear that feedback from a customer.

Chris: 12:28

No doubt, man. What do you wish you had more time to do when you’re in that moment? 

Daniel: 12:32

To be honest. I just wish I could multiply myself. I wish we had more time in the day. I wish that our customers weren’t so far apart. I wish my territory wasn’t so big where it is an extreme area where it could take eight hours to go from one end to the other driving in a car. I wish I just had more time and could replicate myself to be able to do more for our customers. 

Chris: 12:54

Yeah, no doubt, man. I think the windshield time, a lot of people don’t understand that in roles like yours until you’re in it. The toll that takes and the dedication it can be. If you got a four hour drive in front of you to go see this customer, you gotta be really amped up and be passionate about what you’re doing to make that drive day in and day out.

Daniel: 13:13

Absolutely. And you always try to make it as productive as you can while you’re behind that windshield, whether it’s doing conference calls or calling customers. But yeah, it’s definitely a challenge to be able to do those long drives and to be able to make those meetings in person. It’s definitely a challenge.

Chris: 13:28

So with everything that’s happening with COVID right now, what do you see as ways that you could use technology in the future? Maybe to help your role in regards to manufacturing, just curious on what that would be? 

Daniel: 13:40

There’s a lot of resources that technology brings. Even though we have all of these challenges right now with COVID and post COVID era’s. With that, the biggest opportunity I think we’ve seen is to really have these email marketing campaigns as a distributor ship that.

Even though we may not be able to go as a lot of our outside sales force across all distributor ships across the country that I’ve spoken with sales forces are really having a struggle to get in to see customers. It’s been a huge challenge. But with that, one of the things that we still can do is email.

And even with that on top of that, you can also text message and call. But with email marketing campaigns, that’s personalized and valuable to each recipient and be able to provide that service and to be able to provide that communication. And also just being able to have that cell phone, to be able to have that opportunity we can, as we call in the industry, smiling and dialing, we can do that. We have the time now. We know how valuable and important it is to be in front of a customer. But there’s also effective ways that we can compliment being onsite in person. 

Chris: 14:43

No doubt, no doubt. And I think with your marketing background, you can appreciate the email campaigns are only as effective as a message that you’re trying to help.

If you’re trying to help somebody solve a problem, those are effective. And I think we all get bombarded with emails sometimes, but when you actually get that one where it resonates and it’s meaningful and you can see how it’s going to help you improve whatever that your job is, or whatever that your responsibilities are.

That’s the ones that we’re after. So I really appreciate your answer there. And I like to take this chance now to listen. Let’s take a turn down off the EECO road and off the career road. And talk a little bit more about you outside of EECO. So how about any hobbies, man? What do you enjoy doing? 

Daniel: 15:26

One of my favorite hobbies that I love to do is golf. I wish I had more time is anyone that golfs we know, you do around, especially with a couple of buddies, it’s going to take three to four hours. I wish I had more time to golf, but that’s one of my loves of my life. That I like to do outside of work. And and either with my family or outside of my family. I just love to do it.

It’s a great opportunity to be able to spend time in nature. It’s quiet, it’s peaceful, it’s pristine. It’s beautiful. It’s something that I’ve always enjoyed doing ever since I was a kid. 

Chris: 15:56

Nice, man. And you also mentioned a word there that we’d love to talk about and that’s family. So what can you share with our listeners about your family?

Daniel: 16:02

Absolutely. So, I have actually gotten married a little bit later in life. I got married at 35 for the first time. So I was a single bachelor for quite a few number of years and definitely had a lot of fun, but I’m excited now to be married and settled down. We got married me and my wife, Jessica, a little bit later in life.

So we still wanted a family and they have kids. So we’ve been pretty aggressive. Within our first year of marriage it was quite exciting. I got married. I started a new job and had our first child with our first year of marriage. So it was about as exciting as I could handle for that first year and as much change as I could handle. And and my wife is now pregnant with our second child. 

Chris: 16:44

Man, congratulations. And there’ve been books written about houses, getting married, starting new jobs and kids. They’re usually separate chapters in different years where he flipped for you to do all that in one year, man, hats off to you that you didn’t didn’t go crazy.

That was a lot, but it sounds like you got an awesome family. Now, do you have what is your youngest child is a boy. A girl?

Daniel: 17:04

Is a boy. His name is Cooper. 

Chris: 17:07

Okay. And do you know what you’re having next? 

Daniel: 17:10

We do. We do. We just found out it’s going to be another boy. So it’ll be our second boy. And we’re going through names now to see if we get one confirmed. 

Chris: 17:17

Okay. Okay. Anything popping up to the top of the list? 

Daniel: 17:21

So we haven’t yet. What we’ve actually been using as an app. They have a couple of naming baby name apps where you actually have thousands of names. Whether it’s a boy name or a girl name, and you actually can go through and select the ones you like and start narrowing down a list.

I don’t know that we have anyone that we’re leaning towards yet, but we’re getting our list and then more, more, more narrow. 

Chris: 17:42

Okay. Well, I mean, Chris is a great name. Just throwing it out there. 

Daniel: 17:46

I will, I will let my wife know that tonight. I will see what she says. 

Chris: 17:51

Yeah. Look just kind of ease that in don’t lead with that. You know what I’m saying? 

Daniel: 17:55

So the ease, absolutely. 

Chris: 17:58

So Daniel, let’s just talk about something fun here. What’s the perfect day for you, man. If outside of work, if you could just describe the perfect day, what would that be? 

Daniel: 18:07

Sure outside of work, probably my perfect day is being able to wake up early and enjoy a homemade breakfast with my family.

Then being able to go out on a nice walk where it’s right now, a beautiful spring time where it’s nice weather being able to spend time with my family be able to come home, have a nice barbecue lunch, ribs definitely. And some grilled corn on the cob and then be able to go to the golf course in the afternoon and just give it a hit a nice round of 18.

Be able to come home for dinner with a nice homemade meal. I would definitely have to say it would be a lasagna and be able to spend the rest of the evening just probably with my family that evening, that would probably be a perfect day for me right now in my life. 

Chris: 18:47

Oh, man, that sounds like a great day, man. After ribs and lasagna, the time for nap, I can tell you that, buddy.

Daniel: 18:52


Chris: 18:54

Daniel, you brought a lot, to our listeners. It’s always good to get peek behind the curtain to understand who we are and and I just thank you for how open you are. I think you’ve inspired some people to really pursue career in much like yours, where you’re in plants.

We had somebody on the other day and they said, you know what? I, my life is how it’s made. That TV show. He’s like, I lived that everywhere I go. I just get to see how it’s made. And I think you get to do that too. And you can only appreciate that when you get that opportunity to go do it. And so hats off you are one of our heroes.

I really enjoyed this conversation and everything that you went through. I always like to end with the why. We call it EECO Asks Why. What would be your personal drive, your purpose, your why? 

Daniel: 19:40

Sure. My purpose and drive, and this has always been since I was a little kid, is I love to serve. I love to serve my family. I love to serve my church. I love to serve my friends. And I love to serve my customers that I work with. 

Nothing brings me more joy is to be able to see that I’m able to help someone. And them to be able to let me know how much it helped them and that they’re thankful for it. And that’s the why that I’ll do it. It’s a neat opportunity to be able to go and see these customers where these raw materials are put together and be able to put it put together to make this amazing product.

And then I’m able to play this, the smallest little part to be able to ensure that their process is smooth and goes off without a hitch. My, why is definitely to be able to serve and inspire and help. My friends, which are my customers. 

Chris: 20:25

Well, My friend, servant leadership is what it’s about and you’re being a servant leader and I love your answer. I’ve really enjoyed this conversation. And I, I know our listeners. Are going to get a smile and, uh, really takes a lot away from this. So Daniel, thank you so much for your time today. 

Daniel: 20:43

Absolutely Chris. Appreciate your time. Also, it’s been a great conversation. Thank you