Don’t let inexperience be a Handicap…

The Race

Growing up in NJ my father would take me to the horse track in the Meadowlands on the weekends and he taught me how to handicap the trotters. (Those are the horse and buggy races where the jockey is on a two wheel rig with the muscled beast pulling the jockey as fast as the horse could without breaking stride into a gallop) It was a good time with the old man and even better when we got our picks in the money.

The “Handicapping” objective of horse racing attempts to make each race as close as possible for the field. The so called, handicap part, is placed on the better horses in the race so the slower horses have a chance to win. The better horse/jockey combo’s are weighted down so they have to work harder to go faster than the non handicapped team. This may not seem fair at first but it can make for some very exciting races. This happens in other sports too, Golf is a perfect example of using a handicap when competing as teams.

I wasn’t very good at picking winners, however I did learn what to evaluate from the data available in the race program you picked up as you came into the venue. The race program had all the races broken down for that evening. The stats provided included things like winning percentage, age of the horse, track condition, starting position and even best times for that track distance. All the data was to help you bet on what horse/jockey team would have the best chances of winning(Win) or coming in 2nd (Place) or 3rd (Show). If you were correct you scored a payday albeit some bigger than others.

The Program

This blog isn’t intended to teach handicapping the trotters, however there are some analogous situations we can draw on to help make my point. Think of this Blog as the Race Program where I highlight the best teams on the track that night. In your case, its the best partner in your barn ready to hit the track on a fast or sloppy project. (Fast is dry conditions of the track and sloppy is wet muddy conditions)

I’m what you may call an Experiential Learner, learn by doing. Books are great for learning the framework of concepts and complex ideas however books lack the practical experience you gain from actually doing the work. I’m pretty sure a good majority of the population learns better this way, it has also been proven for thousands of years when a skill is passed down from generation to generation. A combination of book educated and hands on via trial and error result in a level of fundamental learning that will endure for many years and potentially generations to come.

I thought it would be interesting to highlight the Business Development Team currently at Space Age Electronics and the tools at our disposal. The BDM team are the top horses in the barn right now. If you have followed SAE over the years and have been part of our growth story you probably know us all. If not, this is a perfect opportunity to get the inside scoop on this truly impressive team. These six individuals have worked in the life safety industry for the last 7 decades. That’s a whole lot of experiential learning at our finger tips. The best part is, the evenings races are not over yet. You may have missed the first few races but there’s plenty of bets to be made and winnings earned.

The Farm

Space Age Electronics has a full compliment of Business Development Managers covering six regions of the US Market. Our primary goal is to assist our partners 1 on 1 to grow there business through innovative code compliant solutions. We do this by focusing on product solutions and process that gives you a competitive edge.

Every BDM comes from unique backgrounds and three distinct generations. (Boomers, Gen-X, Millennial) It’s this differentiation that generates a synergy rarely experienced on a single team in the Life Safety Industry. Having been in the business for 35 years, it’s one of the most amazing and diverse teams I have ever been a part of.

Let me introduce the BDM/Leadership Team :

Corporate CEOJim Mongeau (GenX) Been in the life safety industry for 35 years and with SAE for 40+ years.

Director of IT ServicesChris Agri (GenX) Been in the life safety industry for 20 years and with SAE for 8 years.

North East RegionKyle Jarvenpaa (Millennial GenY) Been in the construction/life safety industry for 14 years and with SAE for 10 years.

South East RegionMike Ventola (Boomer) Been in the life safety industry for 35 years and with SAE for 7 years.

South Central RegionBill Williams (Boomer) Been in the life safety industry for 36 years and with SAE for 5 years.

North Central RegionBill Crowley (Boomer) Been in the construction/life safety industry for 43 years and just started with SAE in 2019.

West Central RegionKasey Nelson (Millennial GenY) Been in the life safety industry for 13 years and just started with SAE in 2019.

West RegionJoseph Cervantes (GenX) Been in the construction/life safety industry for 24 years and with SAE for 5 years.

Space Age Electronics BDM team 2020

Let me detail a few more interesting facts that will help illustrate what national events since 1950 contributed to the formation of these men’s character. It’s relevant to mention that Space Age Electronics was started by Gene Mongeau (Jim’s father) in 1965 in a small town in Massachusetts. A lot was happening in the country during the 1960’s much like today. The numerous events over the decades all had some influence on who we eventually matured into. The company itself has also undergone a metamorphosis over the decades, from a colt getting it’s footing to a thoroughbred running the best in its class!

All those mentioned above were alive during some of the most monumental moments in US History. From the Cold War which saw the birth of the Hydrogen Bomb, the building of the Berlin Wall and then it’s final destruction. The space race with Sputnik and the Moon Shot, multiple wars, rise of communism in Cuba, gas lines, the fall of USSR. Technological advancements with Mainframes, the transistor, Apple Computers, Pagers and Cell phones. Advancements in medicine with the eradication of Polio, DNA sequencing and cloning. Disasters like Chernobyl, 3 mile island and 9/11. We experienced a music explosion starting with Woodstock, MTV and then streaming music on every device. Truly amazing accomplishments and far to many to mention.

The last 70 years (1950-2020) of American and World History is filled with both good and not so good events that have shaped all our lives. Whether we recognize it or are reluctant to accept it, this history contributed to who we are today. From the education system, government policy and technology advancements all had an influence in creating one of the most productive societies in history.

My research for this Blog started with answering a few questions I had in my head.

1) What is the value of experience in our life safety industry?

2) Does this experience create value that can be measured in some way?

3) Given a choice, would reasonable business owners select a team that helps them win more often or stick with the status quo and remain hitched to a nag that finishes out of the money every time?

The Answers

Lets look at the first question, “Whats the value of Experience?” The word experience derives from the Latin experientia, meaning trial, proof or experiment. So one would reason the more experience someone has in a particular discipline or industry they would in turn be more valuable providing solutions or work product to that area of expertise. (i.e. Life Safety Industry)

The Space Age Electronics team highlighted above has some impressive experientia data. Collectively this team of 8 individuals posses over 220 years of direct engagement in the Life Safety or Construction Industries. That’s only 24 years shy of this countries birth date of July 4, 1776!

Furthermore, the home towns of where each individual was educated and began there careers reach across the vast US landscape. From the Northeast and New England states, to Central US all the way to the west coast. In addition, the cities and towns this gang of eight calls home are even more encompassing of the wide tapestry of our vast country. We live is small communities adjacent to large metropolises or have our roots in rural America with frequent exposure to power centers like Washington DC. Being close to our customers business pulse allows for ground level observation of actual events in real time. Boots on the ground so to speak keeps us in step with the ever changing needs.

Question 2 on value. Let me quantify how experience converts to value when dealing with a team with 220 years of knowledge. Have you ever started a project only to find out half way through that there exists a less expensive solution of higher quality that was available to you? That is frustrating I know, it’s happened to us all at one time or another. Imagine what it could be worth to your bottom line if you can vet many of the options during the design phase of a project then selecting the most cost effective one that meets the application perfectly.

Having business leaders who’ve made these decisions before and poses detailed understanding of Electronic Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, UL testing, Fabrication, IT Support & Development, Supply Chain, General Construction Techniques, Electrical Installation, NFPA Codes & Compliance, Project Management, Labor Allocation and much more. It’s easy to see that regardless of the challenge you face, an honest and accurate answer can be derived in relatively short order with little expense.

Here’s and example: A very good customer of ours came to us with a big problem on 3 major construction sites in South Florida. The problem was that the in slab water tight boxes were the wrong type for the NEW speaker strobe that needed to go into the decks of all the parking levels. The choice was to chip out 1800 boxes that were in poured slabs under tension or come up with a way to use the box already there and make the speaker strobe fit. Obviously the latter was the preferred choice.

The solution was derived in about 4hrs of work with the customer who provided great insight as to what needed to be accomplished. Space Age went to work in our machine shop and produced an adapter plate the offset the speaker strobe by 22deg allowing for the device to recess into the incorrect box. This saved the contractor tens of thousands of dollars and many weeks of labor and project delays. All corrected for under $6,000 because of the tools and experience coming together quickly and efficiently.

Off Set Plate

Finally Question #3. I honestly can’t answer this question for you as the reader or business owner, however I can reference my personal experience and that of those I’ve had a professional and personal relationship with over the decades. This decision can go both ways for a business owner. If they have a strong bond or allegiance to a company that may not be the very best in their market space, they’ll most likely stay with that provider and not worry to much about seeking a better solution. However, if there is a lack of trust and continued disregard for delivering on their commitments, friendships could be hurt and business partners changed.

Finish Line

To close out this far too long narrative, I’d like to share these six experience statements made by Dr. Jim Bohn in his article titled “The Value of Experience”. They resonate with me, and I hope they will with you, because they speak the truth. Their is no ambiguity in these statements, direct, accurate and factually based. I added a subsequent note as to how we at Space Age Electronics demonstrate each behavior.

#1 – Experienced people tend to balance emotion and cognition – fear and rationality. (Systematic processes when dealing with contentious situations during the construction process, avoid project delays)

#2 – Experienced people tend to have Increased Empathy – The ability to understand someone else. (Demonstrate respect by seeking to understand before being understood)

#3 – Experienced people tend to balance expectations, increasing the likelihood of achieving a collective goal. (Sizing up the reality of what it will take to deliver the requested solution)

#4 – Experienced people have tacit rules of thumb – aka Heuristics. (Implement rules of thumb to quickly assess the situation and determine its viable use)

#5 – Experienced people have the capability to anticipate the future. (Anticipate or forecasting the realistic time and cost variables for quality product)

#6 – Experienced people tend to have a wide angle lens – they can see more of the ‘whole’ – the ‘big picture’. (A high level view of all the working parts is important, understanding the gaps that need to be filled and then accounting for them.

Thank you for your time in reading this Blog. Hopefully you will continue to acquire industry experience and become invaluable to your employer or new business.

  One thought on “Don’t let inexperience be a Handicap…

  1. July 3, 2020 at 8:32 am

    What a great read this is!

  2. July 3, 2020 at 8:33 am

    That is great!! Nice work!

    On Thu, Jul 2, 2020, 6:07 PM Life Safety Blog | Space Age Electronics Blog wrote:

    > michael ventola posted: ” The Race Growing up in NJ my father would take > me to the horse track in the Meadowlands on the weekends and he taught me > how to handicap the trotters. (Those are the horse and buggy races where > the jockey is on a two wheel rig with the muscled beast ” >

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