By Lisa Debenedetto, CFPS, Sales Application Engineer Midwest USA, Argo-Hytos
When I was asked to write this article, after the initial panic attack, I struggled for three months on what to write about. For the most part, I was thinking, “Why me?” Then it finally dawned on me, “Why not me?” I am a very successful fluid power professional. It is hard to believe this summer is 30 years since I did my first hydraulic internship. As I continued to ask the “5 Why’s” to my success, it came down to three key factors: mentorship, integrity, and knowledge.
Luckily for me, I have had several very strong and supportive mentors throughout my career, starting with my first internship in 1988. When I would ask hydraulic questions, the response was always, “Put it on the test stand and you tell me.” Thanks Jim Brooks. And having supervisors say, “I heard everything she just said and she is 100% correct,” when customers would call to double-check my solutions. Thanks Mike Cannestra. I remember when Dick Fontecchio told me when I was scared to death to try outside sales, “If you ever want to move up in this industry, you need outside sales experience. Try it for 5 years and if you don’t like it, we will make adjustments.” During my transition to outside sales, there were several distributor owners who took me under their wings to show me the ropes. Thanks Al Havlin, John Menge, and several others. Once I was doing outside sales, I pretty much never looked back. The support shown by these mentors contributed to my success. I think it is important for all of us to look around our networks. Is there a place you can step up and give back?
Integrity means different things to different people. To me, integrity is quite simple: Do what you say you will do. If you say you will respond by Friday, respond by Friday. If you acknowledge to deliver on a specific date, you deliver on that date. If you don’t know the answer, say you don’t know the answer. If you tell your kids you will be at their game, be at their game. Customers, colleagues, and family will always respect and appreciate the truth, even if it isn’t what they want to hear. Why is integrity so important? Let’s be honest. Your word is really all you have in this world. Are you living with integrity?
While working in the fluid power industry, I have never stopped learning. From my first internship when I played on the test stands, to changing companies where I had to learn a completely new aspect of fluid power, there was always something new to learn. If you are a valve and manifold person, learn filtration. If you are a cooler person, learn about hydraulic power units. Check out the new H.I.T. (Hybrid Integrated Tanks) for some new and innovative hydraulic tank technologies. Oil conditioning sensors and proportional technology for the mobile market have made significant strides in the last 30 years. The International Fluid Power Society has several new certifications. When was the last time you took a course to learn something new?
Being confident, knowledgeable and operating with integrity will gain you respect in this industry. Throw in the invaluable support of strong mentors and success is the only outcome. I want to take this opportunity to thank all those mentors, colleagues, and customers I have met these past 30 years. The support and respect you have shown along this journey is the reason I love this industry and career. I look forward to another 30 years.