Member Visit Underscores Need for Extroverted Engineers

Eric Lanke NFPA CEO


by Eric Lanke

My travels recently took me to Cincinnati and I was able to work in a few member visits along the way. One was at Sheffer Corporation, a manufacturer of hydraulic and pneumatic cylinders. Randy Logsdon was an attentive host and he gave me a complete tour of their impressive manufacturing facility.

As we talked about the current business climate, the topic turned, as it often does, to the workforce challenge many in our industry are facing. Engineers and people with technical skills are in short supply, especially those with the people and communications skills needed for success in sales. The comment afforded me the opportunity to tell my bad joke about extroverted engineers—they’re the ones that look at your shoes when they talk to you.

But seriously, Sheffer seems to be doing something new when it comes to finding and grooming engineering talent for sales positions in their company. Rather than working with degreed engineers, they’re experimenting with kids who have only one or two years of engineering or technical education. Some of them—often those with the people skills—get a few years into their education and they realize that all the math and computer time is not necessarily their cup of tea. By offering these kids sales positions, Sheffer gets the benefit of their engineering and technical know-how, while still allowing them to develop the side of themselves that gets energized by communications and customer relationships.

Seems like a win-win for both parties.

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