There’s No Place Like Home
An Interview with AEC Material Handling Specialist Brad Dowless
Advanced Equipment Company 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?
Starting from the beginning, 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. When I was 20 I went to UNC Charlotte. From there, I got a job in the AGV [Automated Guided Vehicles] industry working with [fellow AEC Material Handling Specialist] Brian Hester and [AEC President] Darin Boik.
I did projects in New York, New Jersey and 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. During that time I worked a year in Taiwan. Then I got a job with a company out of Michigan and spent about 10 years with those guys working on various projects all over the country. I was in management there before coming to Advanced Equipment Company.
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 things. 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?
We had a daughter. All of my family was back in Eastern North Carolina, my parents were retiring and we had an opportunity. 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?
Advanced Equipment is very family oriented, so knowing those guys essentially from day one, it felt like I was already a part of that family. That makes things a lot 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, that’s been great.
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. You can’t plan projects that way. 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 out there that just want the sale to make money. But living here, I like to make my customers happy, and I can’t do that by being dishonest. I just can’t do that.
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 living on the land that I grew up on and it’s been great.
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.