In the fifth and final episode of our CSIA Executive Conference series, Grace Clark sits down live at the 2023 Control System Integrators Association Executive Conference in New Orleans. Grace chats with Karen Griffin, Pat Miller, Becca Johnson, and Brian Romano on the conference and the importance of the CSIA, the changing system integration industry, and marketing in the system integration industry.
In this series, Grace Clark sits down live at the 2023 CSIA Executive Conference. Grace chats with Karen Griffin of Hargrove Controls & Automation, Pat Miller of Engineered Energy Solutions, Becca Johnson of Gray Solutions, and Brian Romano of the Arthur G Russell Company.
Karen Griffin – Hargrove Controls & Automation
To get us started, if you could just say your name, your title, and what company you’re with.
Sure. I’m Karen Griffin. I’m with Hargrove Controls and Automation, and I’m the vice president
Here at the conference, what have you been enjoying so far and what have you been getting out of the conference?
Well, a few things, but networking is always one that I look forward to and have enjoyed. I love to connect with the people that are in this organization. I’ve enjoyed helping one of the people that I’ve worked with in other aspects for a while, meet some people in this organization as he’s a first time attendee.
And then I’m also enjoying these keynote speakers we have this year. They are phenomenal.
What have you liked about them so far?
Well, there’s a lot of inspiration in what we’ve heard today. The leadership skills that are necessary to move organizations forward and make real change have been really clearly simply articulated. It gives you a lot to go back with. It gives you a lot to go share with your team.
I also really enjoy the earlier session where we were talking about the drama triangle. I think we can all relate to the drama triangle, but some really workable solutions towards evolving from that. And I think that’s a good takeaway that we can bring back with the team.
And you’re also going to be a speaker this year. Are you excited for your panel?
Always. You have to be excited for what you’re talking about. If you don’t care about it deeply, you shouldn’t be communicating on it. But I’m excited about it because it’s also an opportunity to educate some of the members of our organization on some succession planning options that they may or may not have some familiarity with that. Some of the other member organizations in CSIA have already gone through.
What are you excited for and what do you think the future looks like for this industry?
One of the things that’s exciting about this industry is we have to recruit a lot of new talent. There’s a lot going on in automation, and automation is evolving beyond the traditional implementations that we’ve been performing for the last 20, 30, 50 years. And so there’s a lot going on there. We’ve got to bring a lot of people in to support that. So we’re going to be bringing in people with new fresh thoughts, new ideas. Maybe they’re going to be our disruptors that help us go beyond what we’re even seeing today. We will, they’re going to be the likely people who do it, we’re going to go find them. So I’m pretty excited about that aspect of what’s going to go on in our industry.
Now I’m going to kind of a marketing question, since we’re a marketing company, why do you think marketing is important to system integrators?
If you’re having to spend your time telling people who you are, you’re losing the opportunity to connect with them on what their need is. And so you need to be using that time more effectively when you’re face-to-face and telling them who you are is not the best use of that time. The marketing aspect will help them find means to educate themselves on who you are before you show up. And trust me, they do.
Anything you want to add that hasn’t been asked?
I would absolutely like to say when we’re talking about marketing, it’s really important to find somebody who strategically aligns with your goals and your missions. You may have an idea of what you want to do in marketing, and if you don’t align with another organization that’s helping you on those goals and those outcomes, then you won’t be successful with them.
And so also, it’s a lot to undertake yourself if you’re not already doing it, likely it’s not in your wheelhouse if you’re not already doing it. And so finding that right hire is like trying to find a unicorn. And so it is a much better step forward to find somebody to work with to get your name out there, let the world know who we are because we are the people who are going to be changing this world.
Pat Miller – Engineered Energy Solutions
If you could say your name, title, and what company you’re with.
Pat Miller, engineered Energy Solutions Inc. And what is my title? I’m the chairman of the board.
And can you talk about a little bit about why you’re here at the conference and what you’ve been enjoying and what you’re hoping to get out of it?
Yeah. Well, I came to this conference, I think this is my 28th conference, maybe 27th. I’ve been to every one we’ve ever had. Beginning in the beginning, I was the founding chairman of the CSIA. And I’m here because I want to learn, even though I’m 81.
And the conference so far has been great. The speeches we had this morning were fantastic, and we just had a Navy SEAL talk for an hour and a half. That was very encouraging. So far so good
Talking with people in the industry and new emerging leaders, what are you excited for the future of the industry?
Well, I think the AI part of this is really coming out strong and I’m amazed at how much AI can do for us and what we do. What we do is control chill water plants, boiler plants and transportation tunnels and bridges and things like that. And the AI piece, coupled with what we know can really help us to be more efficient and do stuff that we’ve never been able to do before. So I’m excited about the future of the whole automation industry.
And this is my last question, and this is a marketing related question to you. Why is marketing important to the system integration industry?
Well, because you’re only as good as your next sale and without sales, and I’m a salesman and true focus of that, and we need more business and we need people to discover us because we don’t knock on doors anymore, the doors knock on us. So that’s what has to change and marketing is all part of that.
Becca Johnson – Gray Solutions
To start, if you could just say your name, your title, and what company you’re with.
Alright. My name is Becca Johnson. I work for Gray Solutions, and my title is Quality and Continuous Improvement Manager.
And so what brings you to the CSIA conference?
I’ve been coming to the CSIA conference for years now, and I come here for the networking and the great ideas and the collaboration with other professionals.
And you’ve won the Rising Star Award. What was that like and why do you think these awards are important for individuals in the organization?
It was such an honor to win that award because I was nominated by peers outside of my company. They were part of my CSIA peer group, which was a great way to also collaborate and get to know other individuals. So it was definitely an honor.
It’s good to recognize people in the industry who are making an impact and sharing information with one another, which is what CSIA is all about, is sharing information and making our businesses stronger together.
How do you feel or what makes you excited about the future of this industry?
We are changing the world. We’re connecting systems together. We’re making manufacturing more efficient. We’re getting the information in the hands of executives who need to make hard decisions and connecting the world.
And my last question, since we’re a marketing company, I like to ask, why is marketing important to system integrators?
If companies don’t know what’s available, because the software, the systems, the tools that are available are changing so rapidly, it’s nearly impossible for a manufacturer to stay on top of that. So you have to advertise and tell the world what’s available to them, or they don’t know.
If you could just say your name, your title, and what company you’re with.
Hi, my name is Brian Romano. I’m the Director of Technology Development with the Arthur G. Russell Company.
So what are you doing here at the CSIA conference?
This is my second year. I have been in the integration business for 42 years, started as a junior in high school, so I’ve been in the process and automation industry my entire career. And this is just kind of a great get together to be able to see what my counterparts are doing.
What have you enjoyed so far most about the conference?
I’ll tell you in this conference, the first one this morning was awesome. What a great, he speaks well. He presents well. He puts jokes in at the right time. He was just a great, great show.
What are you looking forward to or what excites you most about the future of the industry?
The implementation of the new technologies. We’re an advocate of Industry 4.0. We’ve flipped it a little bit in what we’re doing with it. We’re providing it to our customers, but we’ve also flipped it because a lot of our customers aren’t ready for it. And our flip of that is to be able to leverage it for remote support, being able to provide insight into their machinery, look at it, see what’s going on, see what’s going wrong, and then provide information to them at the appropriate time before things go really bad.
Since we’re a marketing company, I like to ask, why do you think marketing is important to system integrators?
It is kind of like the hidden child, the hidden gem. There’s not a lot of systems integration, its kind of a word that’s not spoken often, but it exists as they showed in the presentation this morning. It exists in every company that does technology, whether you’re a systems integrator, which I owned a company for 16 years that was just a systems integrator. My company is an OEM. We build large scale assembly machinery, but with that, we have a systems integration. My department is the systems integrator. Knowing that information and putting it out there, knowing that you’re a differentiator is huge.
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