113. Hero – Jim Wertz, President / Sr. Electrical Engineer at Altavista Instruments & Controls Transcript

Jim: 00:00 

That satisfaction from helping somebody. I think that’s it. It just, I was put here to do that. 

Chris: 00:05 

Welcome to EECO Asks Why a podcast that dives into industrial manufacturing topics and spotlights the heroes that keep America running. I’m your host, Chris Grainger and on this podcast, we do not cover the latest features of 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 have a hero conversation. I’m very excited to have with me, Mr. Jim Wertz, who is the president and senior electrical engineer at Altavista Instruments and Controls. So welcome, Jim. 

Jim: 00:47 

Good to be here, Chris. 

Chris: 00:48 

I’m excited to have you, man. It’s very excited to have you Altavista that’s a beautiful part of Virginia up there that you’re in. 

Jim: 00:55 

Yes. And today the weather’s nice and definitely enjoying the sun and a little bit of warm weather. It’s been rough here in the last few weeks, but.

Chris: 01:04 

It has, it’s been a tough winter, man. I, that Groundhog, I guess he did see that shadow after all, man, it was just been a tough one for sure. So man, we love these conversations, Jim and just to get to know about you and what you’re doing there at AIC. So maybe you can just start off by telling us a little bit about your journey.

Jim: 01:23 

Sure thing. I certainly have to say, I appreciate you having me on too. Flattered that you’d take some interest. One of the things that comes to mind that I of go back to my childhood a little bit I was as a kid growing up, I love to take things apart. I don’t think my parents thought a lot of it, but I uh, really did have an inquiring mind.

So I. I went to town. I took more things apart and broke more things than I probably care to even share. You know, one of the things that, that drove my desire was a little bit out of guilt after I got those things apart, it didn’t work anymore. I figured out how they worked, but then I started putting them back together, and that was a little bit more of a challenge than taking them apart.

But that, just that nature, inquisitive nature, I think drove me to where I’ve gone. You know, I was always strong in math, in school spent a few extra semesters in college, focusing on math and in in the sciences. But I came out of there and I started my career. Well, I say came out of there.

I started my career really in school. I was in college, went to Virginia Tech, go Hokies. That’s right. And um, while I was up there I was working at, on a PC, I don’t want to call it a repair shop, we sold computers. And during the course of that I learned a lot because the customers come in, and they had problems and I was always the guy that wanted to tackle that.

I wanted to see if I could fix what was going on with your computer. That was um, just part of my nature. So that really drove a little bit of my career there. Cause I I had a lot of opportunity entities. I grew up around power and things. My dad was a, he worked for AEP. And this is a long time ago when things were a little looser safety-wise, but I’d go to work with him.

I grew up in a hydro plant, you could go in and stand right alongside the rotors and these generators, while they’re spinning. And that, that place was always amazing. Yeah, my dad always told me too. He says, “Anything that looks like it conducts electricity son,” he said, “stay at least five foot away from it and if you’re not sure, stay 10.” 

It was, but growing up in that environment, my dad, he he was a fix it type of guy, he was a troubleshooter. And I followed right along those footsteps, but so getting through college doing a little work there.

My, my background, my interest was electrical. I think that was always a thing. I started my first real career with international paper, started out as a project engineer for them. And I remember one of the first jobs I got, I mean, they knew I had an electrical background, so they really threw it to me.

You know, There were some challenges in their coordinated drive systems and it’s a trial by fire type thing, but they had a program called the TMD program. It was a technical management department. Okay. Program. And what that did was it was a rotation based thing. I think IT recognized their leadership and a lot of the management retiring all about same time.

So they were doing this rapid development program to bring some of us along pretty quickly. So I entered into that. I did some rotations there worked out in California, some, I worked in Mississippi some and really project based engineering with an electrical specialization.

So I spent quite a bit of time there. I um, worked my way up through, did process engineering for a while. And then I was a electrical engineer and later became an electrical manager for the facility in Danville, Virginia. I spent a little time there got into some corporate special projects and then.

That kind of took off. I was traveling and going places and pretty interesting projects, a lot of fun, but ultimately I think the real thing was I needed to move and at one point in time I can remember my wife, being at home and I had my first child and she was sick and I was on a plane headed to Chicago, and I’m going, “Man, this is not good. I’d rather be back home.” And I ended up leaving IT for travel reasons. They wanted me to relocate to Chicago too. And it just wasn’t in the cards for me then. So I left there and went to work at RR Donnelley over in Lynchburg, I followed a close friend of mine. He was there and he said man it’s a great place to work and started a career there.

I was a plant electrical engineer and again working on projects, next thing you know, we were doing division or platform projects, and I was traveling again. And man, so there’s this travel thing that I enjoyed. Yeah, but I really wanted to settle in at home. I was a little bit of a home body, but I did, I ended up doing a lot of moonlighting along the years when I cleared it with my managers, but I did a lot of PLC programming on the side and that began to grow and take some shape. And suddenly I was making more doing that and it was at my regular job and I thought, man, I just need to, and I loved it.

I just I love to program and create and solve problems. So that drew me closer and closer. And I ended up leaving RR Donnelley and going to work for an integrator. And I did that for a while. I’ve been in that integrator circle for gosh, there’s been more than 10 years for sure in that circle.

And as that progressed met some other folks and went to work for AIC and eventually um, completed a succession plan there and went into partnership with another feller, Jordan Manny in bought AIC out in in here I am today. And we’re just rolling with the punches and in having a lot of fun, doing it and getting a lot of stuff done very active project project lists going on now.

 Chris: 07:31 

That’s great. Can maybe, could you share a little bit about AIC and what you, the type of things that you guys get involved with there? 

Jim: 07:39 

Sure. Our customer base is fairly local. I’ve been to Arizona. I’ve been to Ohio, some, a couple places out, away from the area, but for the most part, our customer base is within a couple of hundred miles.

So we stay fairly close. The fun projects. One of the projects I did in Lynchburg for, and this is for Gerdau, we put a 5,000 horsepower drive in and we had nine days to do this. It involved removing a building, removing a locomotive engine that was set up as an MG set and bringing in a Rockwall engineered drive and transformer system and installing it, we had this really tight window and it was a lot of work and prep work that went into that to make that happen.

And we pulled it off. And man, what a cool project to see, you know, that size equipment. Operating in, in how well the, all the teams played together, and that’s our core is we’re the glue that puts all that together. We work a lot of times as a customer representative, we’re sitting in there, we know the technical stuff, or at least we’re much more familiar with it than the customer is sometimes, their project managers might not have a power background or a PLC background, but we may have the capability to sit in there and, and interpret a lot of that for them and help them make decisions so that, thinking about that project and where we sat in that position, we did do PLC programming.

We integrated some of the auxiliary equipment in but we hired out and managed some technicians in there. So we’ve got some subcontractors in there working and for us and you know, we’re working alongside Rockwell and their drives group, that big drive and I think we play a key role in, in that project.

And even in the design stage of that, we had a lot of the concept and the ideas behind how to go from where they were and how they were operating to that new setup within a new drive. So that, we sat in a lot of positions there if you will, in that project, but that’s kinda, AIC , we look at the problem and we figured out how to tackle it.

We figured out how to get the resources together and make it all happen. 

Chris: 09:59 

Yeah. I mean, it sounds like you have a great team there too. So that now was that the one in Lynchburg you said?

Jim: 10:05 

It is. Yep. Very fun. Exciting project. Yep. 

Chris: 10:09 

I haven’t been to that particular Gerdau. I’ve been to the one in Petersburg that the believe it’s, a roll mill there in Petersburg, but I haven’t been to the one in Lynchburg. So what did they do with that one? 

Jim: 10:20 

At that site they’re not a, it’s not a steel mill. They’re a scrap yard. They have a shredder in fact that 5,000 horsepower drive that’s what that’s what we were putting together. That project had a locomotive and it’s pretty interesting how I, how that came to be.

I got a phone call on a Friday afternoon, five o’clock from a guy that was desperate. He had called everybody. He knew, and he had people come out and look at it and just walk away, ” nothing we can do.” He says, “I’m down. I need some help. And I heard you might can help me.” And I said,” I don’t know, certainly willing to come over and look at it.” I called my wife and said, “Look, I’m gonna be late.” 

I traveled to the site. I took a look at what they had. They had a system that was engineered from the ground up. It had a, a custom built excitation controller and they had a GE locomotive or actually EMD, but it was a locomotive sitting there with a generator on the end that generator had connection to traction motors to D 32, these big, I think it’s about 2000 horsepower DC motors that were coupled into the shredder to run the turn the shredder itself and that controller had caught on fire and it was a one of, it was custom-made and they had it repaired before and the person that had built it was no longer there. I’m not sure what happened there. If they were even around, it looked like he’d been there for a while. So I look at it and I go,” Wow, what am I getting into here?”

But I said, “I’m willing to help you. I don’t know whether I can fix it or not, but I’ll take a look at it. That’s I can promise you that I’ll look at it and we’ll try.” So I took all the wires loose on this excitation controller and just started tracing this, trying to reverse engineer, this thing they’ve had all these company, electronics companies, they’ve had engineers come in there and, and I took it home and I started to disassemble this in some of the components I couldn’t identify. So I drew that my background’s in analog design, so probably pretty fitting for me to be looking at it and I drew the circuits out, figured out what was really going on in this thing. And I didn’t know some of the voltages and some of the components in there, but I took a stab at it. Of course, you can’t just go buy resistors and transistors anymore, like you used to could, but I just hadn’t had a few things in the basement.

So I actually disassembled a few things to get some components. I repaired it and they were in a bad spot. I know they were losing money. I know it was a bad situation for them. And I came in, it was Sunday morning when I worked around the clock on it and it got it repaired, tested it with a rig that I set up and I felt like it was going to work.

Got there. And I told them, I said, “No promises, but we’re going to try this,” and sure as a whirl we fired it up and it worked and they were able to get back into production that Monday morning. And it. It’s born a great relationship after that, but that locomotive it served its purpose and it needed to come out.

And I knew quite a bit about it after the years of servicing it after that time. But it was a good, they actually got onto the grid. Finally, they were always off grid with that power plant, but they went onto the grid later with that 5,000 horsepower drive system. Just how it all came about just being at the right place, the right time and the willingness to jump in and help, it was a little bit overwhelming at first, but I have a knack of getting into those things and I like a challenge. 

Chris: 13:57 

Great story, man. What a way to take it all the way from that phone call on Friday to round the clock and you had the resources, but you also had the talent. The type of partnership you able to form with that, man.

That’s wonderful. And so thank you so much for sharing about that and for what you guys are doing at AIC. It sounds like you got a lot of fun things going and you’re out there supporting the industry on a regular basis. What are you seeing are some of the greatest challenges of the industries that you serve in particular?

Jim: 14:25 

Greatest challenges. I think probably the biggest thing I see right now is security. I mean, as odd as it sounds, I think what we see the most motion on right now is the challenge and the fear that a lot of these companies have about intrusion and, we’ve seen some of these things and, I’ve been to a lot of the Rockwell sessions where we talked about that and you know, it is a real concern in as companies are beginning to understand what they need to do to secure their systems in their networks, in their equipment. 

It’s a real challenge for us in this space, because quite often we will have a machine that doesn’t work, you know, and we’re out there supporting that machine and we’re there to help them, but the keys are locked up in somebody else’s possession. And it’s really difficult sometimes to get into that. So that’s one of our challenges is being able to have the openness enough for the support, but enough protection in place that it’s not an open door for someone to come in and do some damage or, destroy some equipment or create some production loss.

So yeah, that, I think that’s our biggest challenge right now. I used to think it was satisfying the safety world. I think now it’s security. I think that’s the big push and the big change that we’re working through. 

Chris: 15:54 

Yeah. It’s a fine line. When you get to talking about remote connectivity and actually. When you cross the IT and the OT world and those things start coming together. 

Jim: 16:03 

And that’s a real challenge. This whole COVID thing has brought up a lot of stuff, too. The pandemic has caused a big push for that remote connectivity in that remote working environment. So it’s opened the doors for a lot of problems you know, and it also has opened up some ideas on our side. We started out, we put together these crash boxes because we’re allowed in front of the PLC and on the plant floor, but we’re not allowed on the network and everything’s connected now in, in this connectivity is great, if you can use it. 

 We’re navigating this space. So we created these crash boxes and they are a cellular connection. It’s a physical plugin, and if they’ve got that control logics rack. It’s great because we can supply them an ethernet card if they have an empty slot, they can plug us in and I can have a team of people sitting right there to help them diagnose or fix something or change something, whatever they’re after and not have to be right in front of that PLC. I can let their person do that. And then when we’re done that comes out and comes right back to us. So that’s been a really interesting way to do that.

And of course that has its own security considerations there too, but we’ve been able to help a lot of customers with those crash boxes. And that’s something new since the pandemic, but yeah just solving problems, when we run into them, that’s what, we’re what we’re good at 

Chris: 17:30 

Now, what do you call those Jim checkboxes? Crash boxes? 

Jim: 17:34 

Crash boxes. What I just named it there’s no real, no acronym or anything. Just just when they get in trouble, we send that thing out and we can be there in force. We can have two or three connections into there and and help them out.

Chris: 17:47 

That, that crash box, that sounds like some pretty cool stuff, man and great insight there on the challenges that you’re seeing. And, let’s pretend we’re sitting in front of some high schoolers, maybe some young college kids or at a vocational school.

And we want to give them some encouragement or some advice about pursuing a career in industry. What are you going to tell that generation? 

Jim: 18:08 

What they need to know is it is challenging. And with that challenge, comes great reward. I’m telling you when you solve these problems and you pull these people out of the bind or you design a solution that makes everybody’s life better, or supplies a product that’s a need, but you can make an impact in this industry.

There’s no doubt about it. And being prepared, experience is huge. Get all the experience you can. That’s my thing. Have those interactions like this right here. This is great, you know, learn, don’t stop learning, dig in. Don’t be afraid of anything either. I think a lot of times I see people they’re a little timid over a situation and, you know, communicate, make sure it’s clear before you dive into something that’s over your head that, make sure the expectations are clear, but dive in, you got to jump to figure out if you can fly. So that’s right. Dive in. Do it. 

Chris: 19:05 

Now. How about from a AIC have you had an opportunity to mentor other people that are coming in to industry or help them along their way? 

Jim: 19:12 

You know, I am so glad you asked that. Yes, I, yeah, I see. And I’ve got I’ll call Jordan Maddy out and he’s my business partner. He started here in high school.

The previous owner, the founder, Bill Jackson, I can’t say enough good things about Bill Jackson, but Bill took Jordan on under his wing and Jordan was PLC programming in high school, and just the outreach and bringing in these young folks and teaching them and showing them what’s out there, you know, what you can be doing is huge. 

And I think long-term, you know, he’s now an owner in the business. You look, long-term, that’s the seed that keeps this thing moving. That crop keeps growing. You keep planting those seeds and that’s what you’re doing. And uh, engaging those young minds.

I had the opportunity over the last few years, my daughter, she’s 17 now going on 21, but she entered into the beta program when she was, I dunno. I dunno what grade it was. She was probably in fifth grade or so, and in the beta program was a leadership program. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with it, but they’re developing leaders.

That’s the program and not only do you have to have good grades to be in that program, but you have to have exceptional character. So with that program, they go to these state conventions and things and they have competitions and there are lots of different competitions.

They have art science type stuff. They have talent type stuff, but yeah, the first time we went and of course me being an engineer I don’t think I pushed her into this. I think it was by her choice, but she was on this thing called tower of power where they had to, they’re going to get some components and have to build a tower as tall as they could to hold I think it was a tennis ball for a minute and they go into this closed door environment and they have to do this. And we see if we win and right. They hadn’t practiced. They all just, they’re at convention and they’re deciding what they’re going to do. And they put together a team. They were all sitting around.

They had a bunch of straws that was at straws tape and they had the hold the tennis ball. So they’re struggling, I was watching I’m a parent right in the background and I’m just biting my tongue cause I was, I love statistics. I love deforms and all that stuff. I was, I really liked that part of engineering and I’m watching them try to build this straw tower. And I was just like, “Oh man,” so finally I couldn’t hold back anymore. And I went over to the sponsor that was there with him and I said, “Hey, is it any way I could talk to them?” And she said, “Oh yeah, sure. We encourage, participation with the parents.” So I said, “Okay.” I said, “Hey guys, come here for a minute.”

 I got out the Sharpie. The dry erase and went over the board. It was in this conference room that they were at in this hotel. And I started drawing. I said, “Look, you need to think about this. You need to think about this. You’ve got to solve this like you’re putting the ball in a cup, not the ball on top of a mountain. You need stability. You’re not thinking stability.” 

And we started talking about physics a little bit and things and they went off and they competed and, and they didn’t place. And they came out of there. They were so pumped. They had the tallest tower and it held the ball for the minute, but they didn’t win.

They weren’t sure why. And we couldn’t, we actually didn’t figure out what happened. And I told them, I said, “You probably stepped on the rules.” There were a whole bunch of rules they gave him. I said, “You probably did something you weren’t supposed to do and got disqualified. I don’t know.”

So the next year rolls around and the next year they had another engineering portion and I, I said, “Look, this time around let’s practice, let’s see if we can see how we do.” And they had this competition in the next year. It was something like a Rube Goldberg type thing. They were going to give them so many components, you know, so many materials that they could have, it all had to fit in a container.

And then they were going to be given a prompt at the competition and they would have two hours to construct a device to do whatever this prompt was. Okay. I said that sounds like fun. So I told them, I said, “Why don’t you come down to AIC, I’ll invite you down. You guys practice.” I said, “I’ll give you a prompt and you just try to do it.”

So they came down and um, they started practicing, and tinkering around and they could have Popsicle sticks and all these little, just simple stuff you might find in your home or a garage somewhere. And that’s probably what I did. I collected as much as I could and threw it in the box.

Yeah. They went to state that year and they won first place. And first time they competed in that type of situation and we were all we had to leave, we don’t see what’s going on. And in after it was over with, they came out excited and I said, “Did it work?” And they said, “Yeah, it went, it did everything it was supposed to do.”

I said, “That’s great.” They ended up winning, and they went to nationals. And they actually, at nationals and they were all freshmen in high school, so we get to nationals and they ended up third place in nationals in Savannah, Georgia which just blew my mind. We rented a house down there and took the kids down and that big conference center and all the, every state’s involved, all the high schools in, in, across the US is your your pool of competition.

But they went down and placed third and nation as fresh freshmen group. The next year we got first place, state, first place, nationals. The next year we did a repeat. So back to back national champions and just being able to provide a little bit of mentorship for them and to see their minds and just that that evolution of their thought process and stuff. That’s pretty rewarding too. I really enjoyed that. And I think that’s a little bit of the nature of AIC too. We do like to promote in and educate that next generation. That’s just as exciting as the customer side of it.

Chris: 24:56 

What about some of those kids that are doing it? Do they have these preconceived notions of what you do. And maybe you have to say, and now this is not what we do this is more reality? 

Jim: 25:06 

Yeah I think so. I think lot of them think we just work on computers in to the, to their defense it sorta is just a computer, when you think about PLCs, but there is so much more to that in, in the automation world and Being able to see some of our projects or share some of that stuff with them and some of the things that we do on site. Yeah. I definitely think we sparked some interest there in some of these young folks that have been on that engineering team, I hope so anyway, I feel like we did.

Chris: 25:35 

Now, how about you yourself, man? When are you the happiest? Cause it seems like you just have a passion for helping these people and just helping your AIC be the best.

Jim: 25:45 

Yeah. I, definitely the happiest when we walk away and we’ve pulled somebody out of a jam. That’s my fuel. That relationship between the customers is a lot of fun, but when something goes wrong, even if it’s in the middle of the night, I answer my phone. A lot of people in this industry don’t give their phone out like I do. And I tell everybody, if I can answer the phone, I’m going to answer it.

And I don’t care if it’s two o’clock in the morning, it doesn’t matter. And if I can come out there and fix it, you bet I’ll be there. So that’s I think that’s what really fuels me. And that’s where I’m the happiest when I walk away and especially once a tough problem and we’ve done something that, just not everybody’s going to run in there and do I definitely feel good about that. That makes me happy. 

Chris: 26:29

That’s pretty cool, man. Tell you what, this has been some great stories. How about we talk a little bit outside of work for a minute? 

Jim: 26:35 

Sure thing. Yeah.

Chris: 26:37 

Love to share with our listeners about you, from things you do on your own time. So how about some hobbies? What do you enjoy doing for fun? 

Jim: 26:45 

Besides work? Um, Yeah, my wife probably would say something about that too. Yeah. I’ve got several hobbies. I’d say my number one hobby is my wife and kids. I really do, I love to do stuff with the family and that really is my number one hobby, but outside of that, I’m a Jeep nut. 

I love the off road, mountain trails. If I can strand myself on the top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere, that’s what I want to do. I love to ride the trails. I’ve got some close friends and we have a couple of Jeeps in our driveway too. So usually if I need somebody to go with me, I’ll have no problem finding that.

 We’ve got several Tennessee walkers. We do a lot of showing as a family, as a group. And that’s that takes a lot of time. That’s a whole lot of fun. If you’ve ever done any horseback riding through the mountains, It’s hard to beat that too.

That’s a lot of fun. So those are probably my two big ones. You used to do a lot of RC racing, little RC cars. I used to race Tony Stewart before. Can you say, or you might not be able to say his name and then it was that royalties or something. 

Chris: 27:52 

Just call him to smoke for right now.

Jim: 27:58 

I was pretty serious in that for a long time, but yeah, I had the fastest cars, no doubt. I figured out how to make the motor go fast motors and batteries. I’m an electrical guy right ahead to figure that out. And I figured that out and I couldn’t drive, but I could go fast. 

Chris: 28:12 

Now, do you work on your own Jeeps and stuff?

Jim: 28:14 

Oh yeah. Okay. I get my hands greasy, so I don’t mind, that’s part of it. 

Chris: 28:19 

I figured as much. I just wanted to clarify that so that’s awesome.

Jim: 28:24 

It is. It’s a lot of fun. Yeah. 

Chris: 28:26 

Now you mentioned your number one hobby is your wife and your kids. What can you, what would you like to share about how many kids do you have? What would you like to share about your family? 

Jim: 28:33 

I’ve got two daughters a 10 and a 17 and they definitely keep me busy in my wonderful wife. Who’s and I say wonderful, because she’s put up with me for 21 years. Just about, actually longer than that, we dated for, we were high school sweethearts.

We, we dated eight years before we got married. I think I had to wait to 2000 to get married. And I say, I tell everybody this too, because I’m a little bit funny about numbers and things, but if I got married in 2000 , then I wouldn’t have to remember how long I’d been married. You know, I can just look at the year and I go, yeah, I’ve been married 21 years.

I don’t have to think about it. That’s awesome. So I pushed her out for eight years to get to that point, but she put up with me

Chris: 29:19 

Now are your families from that area? 

Jim: 29:23 

Yes, my wife’s family is very close just a few miles away from Altavista. And likewise, I was born in Danville, grew up close to Danville, Virginia. And my, my family was from that way. So we’re all in the area and that’s probably why I wanted to stay home in my early part of my career is that a lot of family here and the hard to leave those guys, 

Chris: 29:45 

It’s funny, I was born and raised in Clarksville.

Jim: 29:47 

Oh yeah?

Chris: 29:49 

Right down the road from you. 

Jim: 29:51 

Yup. I spent some time in Clarksville. 

Chris: 29:54 

Oh yeah. I’m sure he probably on the Lake down there. 

Jim: 29:56 

Yeah. My my wife’s grandfather used to teach ski lessons down in Clarksville. Yeah. 

Chris: 30:01 

Oh yeah? That’s pretty cool, man. Pretty cool. Thank you for sharing about your family, man.

We love to hear that. And then we started playing a game, Jim, and we call it the lightning round was just a bunch of random stuff. And if you’re willing, maybe I’ll fire away a few questions. 

Jim: 30:18 

I’ll try. 

Chris: 30:19 

We’ll have fun with it. We’ll still always start easy, man. Favorite food?

Jim: 30:23 

Favorite food. I like all food, but I’d say spaghetti’s probably my number one.

Chris: 30:29 

Okay. Haven’t had a spaghetti answer yet. So you take the first one for that. How about a favorite adult beverage? 

Jim: 30:35 

Well, I’m a bourbon guy, so I, I keep Woodford Reserve close by. 

Chris: 30:41

All right. I’m headed to Lynchburg when we finished recording. We’ll, I’ll be up that way. 

Jim: 30:46 

You let me know. 

Chris: 30:49

All right. How about sports teams, man? What sports teams do you follow?  

Jim: 30:53 

You know, I I’m absolutely partial to the Hokies. I never been a big pro ball follower, but I college football, I think it’d be my number one. And in the Hokies, there you go, gotta go with, gotta go with the Hokies. 

Chris: 31:05 

I’ll throw this out. You go check out our episode with Travis Hodge, Dr. Travis Hodge. He was, he played for the Hokies and he was the kicker when they won the sugar bowl. 

Jim: 31:15 

Oh yeah. 

Chris: 31:16

Yeah. One of our, one of our most recent hero conversations. So check that out. So I have that all-time favorite movie? 

Jim: 31:24 

All-time favorite movie. Oh, wow. I don’t watch much TV. I’m a movie guy. I think I’m going to have to go with the Pirates of the Caribbean. I think that was one of my all-time favorites. 

Chris: 31:36 

Okay. Yeah. How about music? What music do you enjoy? 

Jim: 31:40 

I listened to everything. I like Gershwin and I like Van Halen. I’d say, you know, probably a long way away on the spectrum, but would say Van Halen was my number one 

Chris: 31:53 

Van Halen’s number one. Okay, there you go. How about somewhere you hadn’t been yet, but you hope to go to one day.

Jim: 31:59 


Chris: 32:00 

Iceland. Very nice. That’s the place that stands out the most that you had the most time, most fun at that you have been to. 

Jim: 32:10 

I love to go to Tennessee. 

Chris: 32:12 

Tennessee and yeah, can’t beat that man. 

Jim: 32:15 

The Smokies. I love it.

Chris: 32:18 

You got that right. You got that right. And how about the last question? Dogs or cats? 

Jim: 32:24 


Chris: 32:25 

There’s only one right answer. 

Jim: 32:27 

I’ve got ten.

Chris: 32:29 

Ten dogs?!

Jim: 32:30 

I’m not kidding. My wife is into, she’s big with the rescue group in Campbell County right here. And we have a few foster failures, but we definitely have our own our own kennel of furry, friends, but yeah, dogs.

Chris: 32:44 

Well man, good for you. Good for you. Good for her. That’s great. This has been so much fun getting to know you, Jim, and I’m very thankful, Whitney Snyder, she connected us and Pat Connors on the, you work with them, say to just thankful there’s opportunity to talk to you and we call it EECO Asks Why Jim and it talks about the passion. What drives people in that? So someone was coming to you Jim wanted to know what your personal, why is, what would that be? 

Jim: 33:09 

It comes back to that satisfaction from helping somebody. I think that’s it. It just, I was put here to do that. 

Chris: 33:15 

Absolutely. And for listeners out there that wants to connect with Jim or understand more about AIC and how they can help you, we’ll make sure those links are in the show notes and Jim.

Thank you so much for taking the time with us today. It’s been awesome really enjoyed getting to know you, sir.

Jim: 33:30 

I appreciate the time you guys have taken from me too. I so glad you had me on. Thanks. 

Chris: 33:35 

You have a great day. 

Jim: 33:37 

All right. You too.