Field Service Technicians - The Real Heros at W&H
During a global pandemic, where communities are fighting not only a dire health crisis, but also an economic meltdown, massive unemployment, loss of healthcare, not to mention the social, political and educational gut punch that we have all been experiencing, matters of WHAT IS REALLY IMPORTANT take on a new meaning. What are “essential businesses?” Of course I am happy that the liquor stores made the cut, but are they truly essential?
With 80% of our customers being in the Food and Medical industries, we are clearly an essential business and I have been so proud of our people here at W&H for the way they have navigated the new rules of engagement. For those of us who have made our careers on the road, out in front of customers, doing deals, taking orders, staying in touch with our close business partners, this has been extremely challenging. We aren’t used to this new way...however, neither are our customers.
The real heroes (and I don’t use that term frivolously) are our Service Technicians who are on the front line of this pandemic. With almost 50 new machine installations in 2020, as well as an enormous installed base of machines, our technicians have stayed on the road since the beginning, making sure that our customers are taken care of. Travel restrictions have made this very difficult, putting additional stress on our Service and Project Managers, who are furiously planning to make sure that there are no hiccups in the work we have scheduled, not to mention the guys who are being sent into the plants to accomplish miracles on a daily basis.
These men had challenging, exhausting work BEFORE COVID. On the road for up to 45 weeks a year, away from their families, working 12 hr days of physical work is really difficult. A great example is my old friend Horst Grunewald, who retired at age 70, after working for W&H for over 40 years. His “retirement” lasted all of 2 weeks, before he asked if he could come back to work on a “limited basis”....hah! Horst is now 80 and still installing extrusion lines with the energy of a 25 year old!
It would be remiss not to mention the German and global technicians who stayed here after the travel ban was imposed to finish up the installations they had started. A HUGE thank you to them!
I could go on about each of our 30+ US based service techs. Like a hockey player who insists on going back on the ice after having his broken nose set between shifts, these men are proud, tough, loyal, dependable and stubborn...it is going to take a LOT to keep them back from doing their jobs, pandemic be damned. I am so thankful and proud to be associated with this amazing group.