There’s No Place Like Home
Engineer and Material Handling Specialist Brad Dowless is no stranger to his territory. Born and raised in Eastern North Carolina, he learned the importance of honesty and hard work on his family’s tobacco farm before heading off to college to earn a degree in Electrical Engineering (though he also has a Master’s in Business Administration). Years later, he would return home with a wife and daughter, ready to call Eastern North Carolina home once more.
Despite being in the middle of grocery shopping, Brad was nice enough to take our call and tell us about his experience working around the globe, what brought him to AEC, and why there really is no place like home.
You have a lot of experience, including internationally. Can you walk us through that journey?
I grew up in Eastern North Carolina. My family were tobacco farmers, and I actually started working when I was 8 years old driving a tractor. I attended UNC Charlotte and after graduating, got a job in the AGV (Automated Guided Vehicles) industry. There I had the privilege of working with fellow Team Member Brian Hester and President Darin Boik.
I worked on projects in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and I met my wife while I was working on a job site in Iowa. I ended up moving to Iowa, stepping out and managing my own contracts.
I worked for about a year in Taiwan. Then landed a job with a company out of Michigan. I spent about 10 years with those guys working on various projects all over the country. I was in a management position there before coming to Advanced Equipment Company (AEC).
What kept you moving? Was it a desire to move up professionally or just learn new things?
It’s probably a desire to learn more. I’m very competitive, and when I feel like I’m at the top of my game, I find new areas to grow in.
I think when I was younger it was about perpetual growth and chasing the dollar, but as I’ve gotten older it’s more about enjoying life and loving what I’m doing.
So what brought you back to Eastern North Carolina?
Essentially it was family that brought me back. My wife and I had a daughter and all of my family was back in Eastern North Carolina. I actually had an opportunity to move to Michigan and become a director of engineering for the company I was working for, but we made a family decision.
What’s more important for my daughter? To be in a city where we don’t know anybody, or bring her to where I grew up and let her enjoy the grandparents and let the grandparents enjoy her?
Prior to coming to AEC, you already had experience working with some of the team. What’s it like to “get the band back together,” so to speak?
AEC is very family oriented, so knowing those guys from day one, it felt like I was already a part of that family.
It made working there more relaxed. And to have guys that are like family, that you can lean on and talk to, that know you and know your work ethic and what you’ve done in the past, it’s been a very smooth transition.
With the experience you have working all over the world, what do you think you bring to AEC?
I think it’s adaptability. There’s no single project where you’re going to look at it and say “This is how it’s going to go,” from start to finish.
When you start a project, you have to factor in risk and have a plan to manage it. Things go wrong, things change, and so you have to be able to adapt to accomplish the goal of the customer.
What about the start of a project, then? What should somebody expect when they call you?
I would say they’re going to get more of an engineer than a sales guy. I’m probably honest to a fault. There are a lot of salesmen who will say whatever is necessary to get the sale – for them it’s all about money.
But I like to make my customers happy and work hard to solve their problems the right way. For me, it’s about doing things right.
Lastly, how has it been being back in the area where you grew up?
It’s great! We actually bought the house that I grew up in. I’m now living on the land that I grew up on and it’s very meaningful to my family.
Brad specializes in packaging line integration, sortation and accumulation conveyor systems, distribution center conveyor systems, mobile aisle pallet rack systems, automatic storage and retrieval systems (ASRS), ergonomic lift and positioning equipment, heavy material lifts for floor-to-floor applications and mezzanine work platforms, modular offices and safety guarding (both custom and standard).
To talk to Brad about finding a solution that fits your application, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call AEC at 704-527-3141.