Appreciate the Opportunities

BIG KAISER 30 years

After previously working in retail management for about 4 years, I got my feet wet in the manufacturing world as an employee of a small industrial distributor in Rockford IL, who did not stock the Kaiser product line.

I began in shipping/receiving, packing and shipping orders, and making local deliveries. After expressing an interest to do more, I quickly learned how to weld bandsaw blades, and receive and manage products in our system for inventory. Eventually that led to an opportunity in the inside sales department. After a few years on the inside sales desk, I tried my luck at outside sales one day a week, while continuing in inside the other four days. While the distribution side was interesting, I started to realize I wanted something different, something more involved with specific products.

Jump forward to the late spring of 1998. By chance, a manufacturer representative friend of mine, who represented KPT Kaiser, stopped in our office on a different product line. He brought with him Steve Larson, who was an application engineer for Kaiser at the time. I hadn’t met Steve before, but we talked briefly about things in general. I was not actively looking for a new job at that point, but a few weeks later I received a call that there was an inside salesperson opportunity with KPT Kaiser. Shortly after sending my resume, I found myself interviewing with Chris Kaiser, Jack Burley and Tim Grosch. And just like that, on June 1, 1998, I started my new career!

After six months on the inside sales desk, I became the inside sales manager. Learning a great deal about KAISER and our partner products and processes, I transitioned to sales manager. At that point I was more involved with our distribution and manufacturer representative organizations at a higher level, but admittedly my forte was not so much on sales, let alone the outside, so I began working more on internal needs of the company related to process and technology improvements. Which brings me to where I am today as business intelligence manager. Given my broad experience both in and outside of the company, and with most of our internal departments, I consider myself a jack of all trades for BIG KAISER.

A lot has changed over the years. From servers and desktop-driven software to SaaS (Software as a Service). Pagers and desktop phones to mobile phones, VoIP and apps. Small single CRT monitors at our desks to multiple widescreen LCD monitors. Faxes and phone calls to emails and online tools. IoT and AI.  

In 2000 we implemented a new windows-based ERP system, replacing our antiquated DOS program, which has grown with us for 20 years. Then in 2008 we migrated from our old ACT CRM software to Salesforce.com and expanded our capabilities. And perhaps the biggest change of all, in November of 2009 we moved our entire operation from the original location in Elk Grove Village, IL, to our current U.S. headquarters in Hoffman Estates, IL, all in ONE weekend by employees! That was a tremendous effort by all.

Now as we enter a new phase in the COVID-19 era, once again we’re coming together to continue supporting our customers, partners and employees without skipping a beat.

Some of the things I’m appreciative about from working with BIG KAISER:  We like to have fun here!  From Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day parties to lunchtime cookouts, and, of course, the Christmas parties. 

But what I’m most appreciative of is the opportunities I’ve been given to move in different directions within the company. I’ve been able to fill the needs of the business while taking advantage of my own interests and expertise. The travel overseas, which I had never done before, has been both personally and professionally enriching.  

With all that said though, you can have the best products in the industry (which we do!), but unless you have the best people around you, it means nothing. We have great people in our organization at all levels, and I’m proud to be a part of this team.