When you’ve built a career in one industry over several decades you probably have a boatload of experiences, or moments, that really stand out. Some may be more significant than others, however, sometimes it’s those seemingly insignificant instances that end up tipping the scale towards something truly amazing.
The SAE success story is built around countless successful moments, as well as some very trying times. With over half a century serving our industry a company is bound to hit a few tough challenges along the way. The old adage “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” might be true. My belief is, “What doesn’t kill you should be used to make smarter decisions and be shared with those who will benefit.”
I’m so fortunate to be part of SAE’s recent successes. I love solving problems with unique solutions for our customers. I love it when a customer finally “gets it” and the light bulb goes on! Or when the client finally sees that a dollar spent can save five because now they see the big picture.
What I really love the most is the fact that I’m working for a company that I admired and who’s products I used when I started my career some 30 years ago, which by the way makes me an old timer. The nice thing about being a seasoned industry professional is that us old timers have a huge well of knowledge to pull from, which in turn helps others learn and improve the industry overall.
I’d like to share with you a hobby of mine where I don’t have a deep well of knowledge, but it’s something I’m also passionate about, Triathlons. I’ve been doing triathlons since 2013 and began training just before I started working for SAE. I’ve had good events and not so good events over the years and not having an experienced coach in my corner meant I had to learn some things the hard way. And learn I did! Funny how you learn more from what goes wrong then what someone tells you or what you do right.
After three years of marginal success and minor improvements I wanted to be fully committed to getting better then I have ever been. With that commitment you have to pony up the investment in equipment and experienced coaching. So I invested in a new aero Tri bike and began seeking coaching advise from trusted names in the Triathlon world at the beginning of this year.
My previous bike was a Cannondale, a good name in the biking world but riding around on a early 1990’s all aluminum frame was not optimum. I had to work harder during training, felt sore on long rides and frankly just could not keep up with the group I ride with in my neighborhood. You get what you pay for, sometimes less then you paid for.
I did some research on the best Tri bikes and the manufacturers of these machines. Wanting to buy American, I found a manufacturer by the name of Kestrel who is headquartered in Philadelphia PA. The company was started in 1986 by a few ex-employees from Trek, another high end bicycle Mfg, and several aerospace materials experts. Kestrel was the worlds first high-end bike Mfg to design an all carbon fiber bike frame, this pioneering technology changed everything in this highly competitive sport. Over the next few decades Kestrel continued to innovate and introduce new technology that helped athletes go faster, farther, longer and be safer.
Finding the right bike all starts with the bike frame. And since I’m 6’4” tall I need a big frame, matter of fact I needed the biggest frame Kestrel makes. Low and behold I find a great deal on a Kestrel Pro 4000 on Craig’s list and the seller is in Tampa. Practically brand new and in my price range I make the investment and feeling great about the new Triathlon season ahead.
This investment has already begun paying dividends. The bike has been fitted to my exact frame mechanics and upgrades including the proper saddle were added. Who knew that even the small differences in a riders leg length, shoulder width and torso length require custom tuning of the bikes mechanical systems. Seat angle and aero bar position are critical for comfort when you are riding 100 miles plus. Not to mention the power output that can be achieved when harnessing the full capacity of the large leg muscles during pedal rotation.
Being a triathlete takes discipline for training, planning and preparation for the events. If you don’t put in the training time and become educated on the sport, you won’t have a great race. This is not unlike the discipline many of us exercise everyday in our industry. Organizations such as NFPA, AFAA, ASCET and SFPE, and many others, follow processes and programs intended to strengthen the industries participants so they can have a great contribution.
Being code compliant on your system designs is a discipline to doing things right. The individual must be educated on the code and understand how to properly apply this knowledge to the design of a life safety system. The industry specific organizations such as NFPA and AFAA help us improve our knowledge base by sharing best practices across the membership. We learn from one another making us all better. You see its very similar to being a triathlete in many respects, however it doesn’t hurt as much.
The professionals I dealt with at the bike shop fitting my machine knew far more than I did and were happy to share their passion because they saw I was passionate too. Doesn’t it feel good when you can converse with others in our industry who really care and have a passion to learn? Being able to share your expertise for the betterment of the industry and help mentor someone coming up through the ranks is what organizations like NFPA, AFAA, ASCET and SFPE do.
I, for one, have re-engaged with these associations incorporating a new discipline into my career path, it’s time to give back and share my experiences. I encourage all my readers to do the same regardless of your knowledge base. How else will you grow your industry knowledge unless you surround yourself with people more knowledgeable then you.
I hope you enjoyed this Blog post, let me know your opinions on this or any of my previous Blogs. I’d love to hear from my followers who share the same passion that I do for the industry and making moments matter, even the seemingly insignificant ones.