Carlton-Bates Company and Travis Erpenbach

Travis Erpenbach is the Manager of Strategic Programs for Carlton-Bates Company (CBC), a CSiA Partner Member. CBC is a distributor of Automation & Control products, and a provider of value-added services. Travis is responsible for building and managing their SI Strategic Alliance Program, which was newly launched in 2017.

Travis Erpenbach, Carlton-Bates Company

ADDEDTuesday, March 6, 2018

  • Q
    What advice would you give to a prospective customer researching you vs. your competitors?
    A
    Customers should look at the breadth of capabilities and long-term partnering potential before choosing a distributor.  Carlton-Bates is much more than simply a stocking distributor of automation & controls products.  We desire to engage our customers far deeper than most distributors and earn their trust as a true partner.  Our services include a wide-range of solutions with E-Commerce, Inventory Management, LEAN Services, and Global Accounts.  One of our fastest growing solution segments is our Assembled Solutions division.  Known as Wesco Assemblies, we have over 450 employees in dedicated assembly facilities in the US and Mexico.  This includes assembly technicians, engineers, and program managers.  With these resources and capabilities, we can help our OEM customers design and build products that are outside of their capabilities or scope.  Finally, with our new SI relationships, we can provide customers with an entirely new level of automation services.  I think potential customers will see that CBC has done a great job of providing world-class products and solutions, while maintaining a local and feel.
  • Q
    What’s the best advice you could give your younger self, just getting started?
    A
    Take more chances and think big with your ideas.  Don’t be scared of making mistakes because that’s how you learn.  Listen to your gut to help steer you away from trouble. Realize that YOU are in control of your own career destiny, not the manager you happen to be working for at the time.  Find the fun in everything you do and don’t stress over the problems of today, just fix it and move on. Work hard and be your best.  Don’t burn bridges with your contacts, for obvious reasons.  Make sure you take more electronics and programming courses, as you will need it later.  Finally, always remember that your family comes first.
  • Q
    What makes Carlton-Bates Co. (CBC) optimistic about the future of the automation industry?
    A
    We are seeing very strong growth in the sales of our automation product lines.  This is driven by a number of factors but what I’m most excited about is the rapid change in the technology.  Our suppliers are bringing new and innovative products to market at a fast pace.  Want to control your factory from your smart phone?  No problem.  Want to see real time data from your production floor?  No problem.  Amazing solutions are technically possible today in the world of IIOT, which seemed like just marketing buzz a few years ago.  As usual, our OEM customers are pressured to streamline processes, reduce costs, and increase output.  As long as those pressures exist, there will be demand for automation in both strong and weak economies.
  • Q
    Tell us about your SI Partner Program.
    A
    In early 2017, we proudly launched our Strategic Alliance Program for System Integrators.  It’s a mutually beneficial program for the SI, CBC, and our Suppliers.  Some key features of the program include: lead sharing, sales team collaboration, marketing promotions, supplier training, etc.   The overall goal of our program is to drive more projects to the integrator.  By doing this we are able to supply a full range of items from our line-card, and provide the customer with a higher level of service.  At CBC, we are known as ‘Solution Sellers’, so working with an SI really adds to our capabilities and types of opportunities that we can pursue.  Oh yeah, we try to keep it fun too.  It’s very early days with our partner program, but we have built a nice opportunity funnel of projects across our integrator network.
  • Q
    Why did Carlton-Bates Co. (CBC) become a member of CSIA?
    A
    2017 is our first year as a CSiA member.  We were looking for a way to really connect with the automation industry by making new contacts and understanding industry trends and challenges.  We also desired to network with suppliers and integrators to help us with our automation projects.  When I came across the CSiA, I noticed a very active group that really felt like a tight-knit community. The CSiA gives us access to forums, peer groups, industry news, the annual Executive Conference, and the Exchange.  Overall, I’m very pleased with our membership and look forward to networking with more members in 2018.
  • Q
    Why did you choose a career in automation - control system integration? Or did your career choose you? (How did you get here?)
    A
    It’s interesting to reflect on this question and to think about how your career decisions lead you down one path or another.  I was always fascinated by machinery, manufacturing equipment, and technology.  That led me to a path starting with manufacturing engineering.  This is where I learned the importance of process automation and streamlining production processes.  There is such instant gratification as you work discrete projects to completion, and it’s satisfying to look back and see how your solutions have contributed to higher rates of production, etc.  Through the years, I slowly moved into program management, account management, and finally sales management.  Today, as a Business Development Manager, I draw upon all my past experiences to manage our SI Program and to help drive more automation projects into our revenue stream.