This week’s interview is with Andrew Simms, U.S Sales Manager at Diversitech. He reveals how his role with the company has evolved over the years, the multiple hats he wears in the company and what we can expect to see in the future for Diversitech.
Q: What is your official job title and what does it entail?
A: I am the U.S. Sales Manager. My job includes acting as a regional sales manager for a portion of the U.S. while also directing the rest of the U.S. Sales Team. Currently, I handle international sales as well.
Q: When did you first start working for Diversitech?
A: Many years ago when I was still in high school, I took on summer jobs in my dad’s company. I turned bolts and assembled machines back when Diversitech was still in a really small facility. I spent some time doing marketing as well, putting together binders and things like that. Back in 2012 after university, I started full-time with an inside sales and marketing role. I did a lot of telemarketing which isn’t always the easiest job. After some years I moved on to an outside sales position, where I was responsible for a sales territory in the U.S.
Q: Which job has been the most enjoyable for you?
A: I really like visiting clients, seeing their operation and having that personal connection so I can develop a solution for them. I think it’s really interesting to have that exposure and be able to travel to so many facilities across the country.
I also really enjoy the fact that I’ve been given the opportunity to play a bigger role in the strategic direction of the company. I’ve been able to collaborate on some marketing and operations initiatives. In 2018 when we moved to our new facility, I was responsible for coming up with a new production strategy as well as the plant layout. That was a really interesting project for me.
Q: What previous experience, job, education or otherwise, prepared you for the role you have now?
A: Working in the shop and doing hands-on work when I was a student gave me a really great understanding of the equipment - how it works and how it’s put together. It was nice to produce something with my hands and come home at the end of the day knowing that I had built a product that helps people. That summer work definitely helped me gain a better understanding of the company and the products.
Q: What does a typical workday for you entail?
A: Sometimes it feels like I spend the majority of my time managing emails and phone calls. I continually need to follow up on new opportunities and issues from existing clients. Also when you’re in management, you’re dealing with other people’s issues and opportunities. I have the added responsibility of holding weekly meetings where I’m tracking and trying to improve the team and performance of the company. So I spend a lot of my time working both with clients and with other sales people working under me.
Q: What has it been like for you working in the family business?
A: It’s interesting being part of a family business, especially now that we’re moving towards being part of a corporate group. I’m sure there will be a new culture and a change in management styles. That should be an interesting transition.
To be honest, it’s not always easy to separate family relations from work relations. At times it can be quite difficult, especially when there are disputes or problems. But I think it depends on your relationship with the person. If you have a good, close relationship with your family member, then it’s not so much of an issue.
Q: What have been your biggest challenges?
A: I think part of the challenge has always been time management because there’s so many different things you could spend your day doing. The challenge comes in figuring out what the most effective use of your time is and what will provide the most value for the company and the clients. It’s always about what the opportunity cost is of focusing on one thing at the expense of the other.
Q: What changes have you seen during your time at Diversitech besides the obvious growth?
A: Beyond the obvious growth, the company has dramatically increased in terms of the number of employees and its size. We’ve seen a definite change in the amount of management and personnel in each department as well as the structure. Several years ago, we didn’t have managers in each department. We’ve had to create more structure in our work environment - which you need in a bigger company because there’s a lot more people and more production. So you need a bigger team, a more confident team, to put in place that structure. That’s been a big change. We want to remain flexible and nimble, but at the end of the day when you’re growing to be a company of almost 100 people, you have to have a well-structured plan or else things can become chaotic.
Q: What are your hopes for the future for Diversitech?
A: Diversitech has been a real success story in terms of what we’ve been able to achieve while I’ve been with the company. I believe that the company will continue on this path that we’ve been on for many years and that we seize this new opportunity of being part of an international group. I would like us to leverage that organization to expand not only in our traditional core markets which have been in the U.S. and Canada but also to start to internationalize and look at how we can expand towards Europe, Asia, and other new markets. I think that will be the next growth phase for Diversitech.