Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

2024 CSIA Conference Insights: Networking and Growth

Rivergate Marketing podcast CSIA conference

In this episode, Grace Clark sits down with several CSIA members at the 2024 annual conference from G and Liz Brooks-Zak of Outlier Automation, Sonali Shah of Thermo Systems, David Ivester of aeSolutions, Dawn Dittman of Interstates, and Bruce Marson of Engineered Energy Solutions.

Grace Clark:

So to get us started, if you could both just give me your name, title, and what company you’re with.

G Brooks-Zak:

I’m G Brooks-Zak, I am the Co-founder and technical Lead at Outlier Automation.

Liz Brooks-Zak:

And I’m Liz Brooks-Zak and I am Co-Founder and business Operations Lead at Outlier Automation.

Grace Clark:

Awesome. So what brought you guys here to the CSIA conference?

G Brooks-Zak:

Well, we’ve owned our business now for five years and we started the company together and CSA is a great resource for just baseline running a good control systems integration firm, which is ultimately adds a lot of value to our customers.

Liz Brooks-Zak:

They provide a framework, a template to really create a company that is successful and has good practices like any company should really. But I’ve been getting a lot of value out of networking with people who are owners or employees of larger systems, integration firms because you can kind of pick their brain about what challenges, what issues they’ve been having, and then I can think, how can I position my business to be able to weather those storms that are ahead of us? It’s like talking to your future self. So yeah, so there’s been just so many insights, so many people just willing to open up about their life, experience, their businesses, and it’s been a really good experience.

Grace Clark:

That’s fantastic. And I mean, it’s your first time.

Liz Brooks-Zak:

It is my first time, yeah. So I’ve been here all of a day and a half now. Yes.

Grace Clark:

What’s been your favorite part so far?

Liz Brooks-Zak:

That’s a good question. The keynote speakers I think were so good. I’ve been to quite a few conferences in different industries and they were excellent, top tier, just really engaging and yeah, they had great speakers.

G Brooks-Zak:

And you went to the marketing workshop, right? I did

Liz Brooks-Zak:

I did go to the marketing workshop. I should have said that. Yeah, I know, but I’m still emotional from the keynote speakers. But yeah, no, the marketing workshop was great. I honestly didn’t know really what to expect because marketing in our field is such kind of a specialized thing and people have different approaches, but it was really well put together, a lot of actionable advice, a lot of things that were just very relevant to what we’re doing, and I had a lot of takeaways from it. So I would go again, and you guys did a great job.

Grace Clark:

If you could just tell me your name, title, and what company you’re coming from.

Sonali Shah:

My name is Sonali Shah, and my title is Marketing Director and I work for Thermo Systems.

Grace Clark:

Amazing. So is this your first time at the conference?

Sonali Shah:

It is, it’s my first time.

Grace Clark:

And have you been enjoying it so far?

Sonali Shah:

It’s been spectacular. The whole event has been packed with informative information for everyone.

Grace Clark:

When you were originally coming to this conference, what were you hoping to get out of it?

Sonali Shah:

I was hoping to meet other people who were in similar roles as mine and looking to look for best practices in promoting their systems integration business. And I attended the marketing workshop yesterday, which was an entire day full of great tips and best practices on how to promote and grow your business.

Grace Clark:

If you could just tell me your name, title, who you’re with, and what brings you to the conference.

David Ivester:

Yeah, hi Grace. David Ivester with aeSolutions in Greenville, South Carolina, and I’m the Chief commercial Officer. So I’m here at my first time at CSIA.

Grace Clark:

That’s really exciting. How are you liking it so far?

David Ivester:

So far it’s been a good conference. I’ve met a lot of people, a lot of people I already knew. There’s a lot of recycling that goes on in this industry where people, especially with the manufacturers, move between different manufacturers. And I worked for one of the manufacturers myself for over 30 years. So I’m seeing a number of friends I’ve had for a long time. And I think a lot of this, of what we do here is networking and relationships, and so that’s really important and I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to building a lot of new relationships here, people.

Grace Clark:

So if you could just tell me your name, your title, and where coming from.

Dawn Dittman:

Yeah. My name is Dawn Dittman and I’m with Interstates. I’m a marketing manager there. So Interstates is an industrial electrical contractor and control systems integrator. So we do a lot of different things. I work primarily with our operational technology team, but we work closely with a lot of the other automation, analytics, a number of different groups. So I’m here at the conference just to learn and hear from other system integrators what they’re seeing and what they’re doing. And I always love to talk to engineers and hear what challenges they have.

Grace Clark:

That’s awesome. What have you enjoyed most about the conference so far?

Dawn Dittman:

Probably just that we do have a lot of people that we work with who are here and just talking with different partners, seeing what challenge they have, what opportunities we have to conet and co-partner with them on marketing initiatives or things like that is really something that’s been great.

Grace Clark:

If you could just tell me your name, title, and what brings you to the conference.

Bruce Marson:

So I am Bruce Marson. I am the c slash of Engineered Energy Solutions. And I’ve come to the conference because as a founding member of the CSIA 30 years ago, I won’t say our attendance is mandatory, however, it is germane to the society itself.

Grace Clark:

I love it. So as a founding member, what’s it been like seeing the CSA conference go through all these years? That’s pretty transformative.

Bruce Marson:

Well, it was. Now personally, I’ve only been to the last 12… oh….

Grace Clark:

Such a small number.

Bruce Marson:

Yes, I know. Our founder, of course, has been on previous podcasts, has been to all 30 of them. So what I like to see about the conferences is how it’s grown, how they’ve learned in tailoring the presentations and what they offer to the CSIA members have been more targeted and focused as they have been in previous years. So this choice of speakers has certainly been improving over time, and I think it’s well organized. And a benefit to all the members.

Grace Clark:

You say it’s a benefit to all the members. What do you see members getting the most out of CSIA?

Bruce Marson:

Well, first of all, I think it’s the exchange of ideas. Now, granted, all the members are probably competitors for the most part within the respective industries. We’re not an oil and gas, so we’re not competitive of an integrator in oil and gas because it’s not our field. However, there is a similarity between all we do. So the free exchange of ideas, the lessons from a hot stove, so to speak, what did you do wrong and how did you solve it kind of thing. The conference itself brings to you what is the state of the industry in itself in a more global or national level kind of thing. So I think bringing that to everybody in a comradery because of the community.

Grace Clark:

That’s really awesome. What have you enjoyed most about the conference so far?

Bruce Marson:

Well, I have to say so far this morning’s two speakers were definitely enjoyable. This the first, this afternoon was the first time I participated in the speed networking, I think is what they called it.

Grace Clark:

Yeah, it’s a lot of fun.

Bruce Marson:

Yeah, that was certainly interesting. And Dallas is a fun city. I’ve never been here before, so certainly get out. And what little free time I have is to enjoy some of that. The main focus here is to learn and grow.

 

Christine McQuilkin:

Founded in 2009, Rivergate Marketing is a full service digital marketing agency, serving small to mid-size B2B companies trying to reach technical and engineering buyers. We are passionate about building strategic and data-driven marketing and PR programs to help our clients compete and be found in a crowded digital space against much larger companies with seemingly endless marketing dollars. For more information, visit us online@rivergatemarketing.com.

Share this article!

Rivergate Marketing podcast CSIA conference

In this episode, Grace Clark sits down with several CSIA members at the 2024 annual conference from G and Liz Brooks-Zak of Outlier Automation, Sonali Shah of Thermo Systems, David Ivester of aeSolutions, Dawn Dittman of Interstates, and Bruce Marson of Engineered Energy Solutions.

Grace Clark:

So to get us started, if you could both just give me your name, title, and what company you’re with.

G Brooks-Zak:

I’m G Brooks-Zak, I am the Co-founder and technical Lead at Outlier Automation.

Liz Brooks-Zak:

And I’m Liz Brooks-Zak and I am Co-Founder and business Operations Lead at Outlier Automation.

Grace Clark:

Awesome. So what brought you guys here to the CSIA conference?

G Brooks-Zak:

Well, we’ve owned our business now for five years and we started the company together and CSA is a great resource for just baseline running a good control systems integration firm, which is ultimately adds a lot of value to our customers.

Liz Brooks-Zak:

They provide a framework, a template to really create a company that is successful and has good practices like any company should really. But I’ve been getting a lot of value out of networking with people who are owners or employees of larger systems, integration firms because you can kind of pick their brain about what challenges, what issues they’ve been having, and then I can think, how can I position my business to be able to weather those storms that are ahead of us? It’s like talking to your future self. So yeah, so there’s been just so many insights, so many people just willing to open up about their life, experience, their businesses, and it’s been a really good experience.

Grace Clark:

That’s fantastic. And I mean, it’s your first time.

Liz Brooks-Zak:

It is my first time, yeah. So I’ve been here all of a day and a half now. Yes.

Grace Clark:

What’s been your favorite part so far?

Liz Brooks-Zak:

That’s a good question. The keynote speakers I think were so good. I’ve been to quite a few conferences in different industries and they were excellent, top tier, just really engaging and yeah, they had great speakers.

G Brooks-Zak:

And you went to the marketing workshop, right? I did

Liz Brooks-Zak:

I did go to the marketing workshop. I should have said that. Yeah, I know, but I’m still emotional from the keynote speakers. But yeah, no, the marketing workshop was great. I honestly didn’t know really what to expect because marketing in our field is such kind of a specialized thing and people have different approaches, but it was really well put together, a lot of actionable advice, a lot of things that were just very relevant to what we’re doing, and I had a lot of takeaways from it. So I would go again, and you guys did a great job.

Grace Clark:

If you could just tell me your name, title, and what company you’re coming from.

Sonali Shah:

My name is Sonali Shah, and my title is Marketing Director and I work for Thermo Systems.

Grace Clark:

Amazing. So is this your first time at the conference?

Sonali Shah:

It is, it’s my first time.

Grace Clark:

And have you been enjoying it so far?

Sonali Shah:

It’s been spectacular. The whole event has been packed with informative information for everyone.

Grace Clark:

When you were originally coming to this conference, what were you hoping to get out of it?

Sonali Shah:

I was hoping to meet other people who were in similar roles as mine and looking to look for best practices in promoting their systems integration business. And I attended the marketing workshop yesterday, which was an entire day full of great tips and best practices on how to promote and grow your business.

Grace Clark:

If you could just tell me your name, title, who you’re with, and what brings you to the conference.

David Ivester:

Yeah, hi Grace. David Ivester with aeSolutions in Greenville, South Carolina, and I’m the Chief commercial Officer. So I’m here at my first time at CSIA.

Grace Clark:

That’s really exciting. How are you liking it so far?

David Ivester:

So far it’s been a good conference. I’ve met a lot of people, a lot of people I already knew. There’s a lot of recycling that goes on in this industry where people, especially with the manufacturers, move between different manufacturers. And I worked for one of the manufacturers myself for over 30 years. So I’m seeing a number of friends I’ve had for a long time. And I think a lot of this, of what we do here is networking and relationships, and so that’s really important and I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to building a lot of new relationships here, people.

Grace Clark:

So if you could just tell me your name, your title, and where coming from.

Dawn Dittman:

Yeah. My name is Dawn Dittman and I’m with Interstates. I’m a marketing manager there. So Interstates is an industrial electrical contractor and control systems integrator. So we do a lot of different things. I work primarily with our operational technology team, but we work closely with a lot of the other automation, analytics, a number of different groups. So I’m here at the conference just to learn and hear from other system integrators what they’re seeing and what they’re doing. And I always love to talk to engineers and hear what challenges they have.

Grace Clark:

That’s awesome. What have you enjoyed most about the conference so far?

Dawn Dittman:

Probably just that we do have a lot of people that we work with who are here and just talking with different partners, seeing what challenge they have, what opportunities we have to conet and co-partner with them on marketing initiatives or things like that is really something that’s been great.

Grace Clark:

If you could just tell me your name, title, and what brings you to the conference.

Bruce Marson:

So I am Bruce Marson. I am the c slash of Engineered Energy Solutions. And I’ve come to the conference because as a founding member of the CSIA 30 years ago, I won’t say our attendance is mandatory, however, it is germane to the society itself.

Grace Clark:

I love it. So as a founding member, what’s it been like seeing the CSA conference go through all these years? That’s pretty transformative.

Bruce Marson:

Well, it was. Now personally, I’ve only been to the last 12… oh….

Grace Clark:

Such a small number.

Bruce Marson:

Yes, I know. Our founder, of course, has been on previous podcasts, has been to all 30 of them. So what I like to see about the conferences is how it’s grown, how they’ve learned in tailoring the presentations and what they offer to the CSIA members have been more targeted and focused as they have been in previous years. So this choice of speakers has certainly been improving over time, and I think it’s well organized. And a benefit to all the members.

Grace Clark:

You say it’s a benefit to all the members. What do you see members getting the most out of CSIA?

Bruce Marson:

Well, first of all, I think it’s the exchange of ideas. Now, granted, all the members are probably competitors for the most part within the respective industries. We’re not an oil and gas, so we’re not competitive of an integrator in oil and gas because it’s not our field. However, there is a similarity between all we do. So the free exchange of ideas, the lessons from a hot stove, so to speak, what did you do wrong and how did you solve it kind of thing. The conference itself brings to you what is the state of the industry in itself in a more global or national level kind of thing. So I think bringing that to everybody in a comradery because of the community.

Grace Clark:

That’s really awesome. What have you enjoyed most about the conference so far?

Bruce Marson:

Well, I have to say so far this morning’s two speakers were definitely enjoyable. This the first, this afternoon was the first time I participated in the speed networking, I think is what they called it.

Grace Clark:

Yeah, it’s a lot of fun.

Bruce Marson:

Yeah, that was certainly interesting. And Dallas is a fun city. I’ve never been here before, so certainly get out. And what little free time I have is to enjoy some of that. The main focus here is to learn and grow.

 

Christine McQuilkin:

Founded in 2009, Rivergate Marketing is a full service digital marketing agency, serving small to mid-size B2B companies trying to reach technical and engineering buyers. We are passionate about building strategic and data-driven marketing and PR programs to help our clients compete and be found in a crowded digital space against much larger companies with seemingly endless marketing dollars. For more information, visit us online@rivergatemarketing.com.