It’s All About Finding Your Passion
How a Psychology major became one of AEC’s best Sales Engineers and Conveyor Specialists
AEC Sales Engineer and Conveyor Specialist Charlie Williamson graduated from Georgia Tech with a Bachelor’s in Applied Psychology… but then left the world of psychology for the world of owning his own janitorial supplies company. It was a big step, but it eventually led to Williamson discovering his true passion here at Advanced Equipment Company.
Recently, Williamson opened up about his education, experience, and finding his dream job.
First, I have to ask… why janitorial supplies?
I worked my way through Georgia Tech as a janitor, so it just seemed a natural progression to enter the trade. I graduated with a BS in Applied Psychology, but found that wasn’t really my passion. So I decided to hang out my shingle.
I was pretty good at it, and the business was successful, but it lacked challenge for me. I sold my business in 1983 and that’s when I entered the material handling industry, and it turned out to be the perfect fit for me.
What made it so perfect?
I relearned something very important about myself, and that’s that I’m the kind of person who really loves to get his hands on a problem and wrestle with it. The arena of material handling turned out to be full of problem-solving opportunities, so once I came to AEC, where partnering with clients to find creative and workable solutions is at the heart of what I do, I realized that I was in an environment where I could really thrive and grow.
Honestly, my real passion is for the people I work with and the great relationships I make. With my clients, I’m actually an extension of their team – a true partnership for their success. I really don’t see myself as a salesperson, I see myself as their problem solver – how can my ingenuity, experience, and knowledge get them to their goals. I care more about taking care of my customers and finding the best fit for their needs. It’s about partnerships verses selling a product.
I especially love solving business challenges and creating solutions for my customers unique problems. The greater the challenge, the more it inspires me to find an elegant and efficient solution. Taking the time to learn about the company, where they are now, where they want to be, what’s holding them back, and what will make them excel – that motivates me.
Since joining AEC, you’ve become a Conveyor Specialist. Why conveyors?
Over time, my passion for problem solving in this arena became sharply focused on what is, for me, the most interesting and engrossing part of it all, and that’s conveyors. Tackling a difficult challenge through the creative modification of a conveyor system will never get old for me, whether the issue boils down to making a manufacturing process more efficient, adding in new robotics or just figuring out how to integrate packaging equipment with existing conveyors.
Is there a particular example of that type of problem solving that sticks out in your mind?
Sure. One good example of a specific problem was the modification I designed and implemented for a large commercial baker. They needed to move and package a high volume of crackers, but the crackers were coming straight from the oven. So since they didn’t cool first, they were getting condensation forming on their packages, which could potentially ruin the product. That was a really interesting problem, and we solved it for them by creating a precision timed spiral conveyor system which gave the product time enough to cool before being boxed for shipping.
You started out in material handling back in 1983. What’s kept you going for so long?
After 34 years in the material handling business, I can honestly say it still continues to get better. There are always new challenges. No matter how much experience a client and I may have with a specific problem, there’s always something new to learn. Always. And I love the tremendous satisfaction that comes from knowing that each business I’ve served is better in some tangible way because I’ve been there.
For 10 out of 22 years at AEC, I’ve been top salesperson, but that’s not my focus, it just happens – that’s not what I’m trying to do. I focus on treating someone looking for a $100 part the same way I’d treat someone looking for a multi-million dollar system. You reap what you sow – it’s about doing unto others as you’d have them do to you.
Since 1988, Williamson’s specialty has been conveyors and related systems. He has decades of experience in material handling world, including manufacturing process conveyors, distribution center systems, robotics, sortation, and packaging equipment integration with conveyors.