Featured interview - Jim Mansfield

Jim Mansfield is a senior manager, manufacturing systems and solutions, at Matrix Technologies Inc.

James Mansfield, Matrix Technologies, Inc.

ADDEDWednesday, February 17, 2021

  • Q
    You mentioned you’re writing a book. So, I must ask, what’s the book about?
    A
    I’m still toying with the title. But I guess to sum it, it’s “So You Want to be in Industrial Sales. What Were You Thinking?”
    
    The first 7 chapters are really wrapped around all the reasons you should run away from this and you shouldn’t do it. You eat alone. You sleep alone. You’re on the road all the time. You’re in hotels. There’s this whole myriad of stories and lists, and if you can make it through the first 7 chapters, the next 7 are all the best practices that I have learned over the last 30 plus years that a young engineer coming out of college could deploy and, hopefully, keep him from failing as much or keep him from bumping his or her head as much during the journey because it is a journey.
  • Q
    What’s the best advice you could give your younger self just getting started?
    A
    I would tell that person to understand earlier it’s OK to fail. I often tell people I’ve been very successful in my career because I’m a collection of failures, I don’t repeat, and I surround myself with people who are smarter than I am.
    
    I would tell him to read more. Take more chances. Take some risks. Take every vacation day that was ever offered to you. You need it. You got to reset. 
    
    I’m in a process of writing a book, so I would tell him to start writing it earlier, so we would be done by now and collecting royalties! 
    
    Finally, make sure that you’re focused on others. Your success will come by helping others succeed. 
    
  • Q
    What makes Matrix Technologies optimistic about the future of the automation systems industry?
    A
    We’re optimistic because 85 percent to 87 percent of our business is repeat. These clients keep coming back to us, and we’ve reached what I like to call a trusted adviser status with many of them. They come to us and ask us how they should best spend their next year’s budget to meet their business goals and needs.
    
    These clients are struggling every day with recovering from this horrible bug, and I believe we’re uniquely positioned in simply knowing their business as well as we do to assist those clients in developing a recovery strategy and an execution throughout our entire disciplines to help them reach their goals and solve their most painful points, whether that’s in the warehouse or at the production line or all the way through integration for that much-needed business analytics and business intelligence that’s needed today.
  • Q
    How has Matrix Technologies changed in the past year, and what do you expect for your company in the next 12 to 24 months?
    A
    I think the biggest change that we have seen over the last little bit is really around a deeper customer-focused culture. We have developed and had launched over the last year or so what we call the “Matrix Way.” These are a series of 31 fundamentals that make up how our company is around what we do, how we treat our people internally and how we treat our customers.
    
    I won’t go through a ton of them but a couple of them I will throw out there is simply do the right thing always. Deliver legendary service. Be an absolute fanatic about response time. Listen generously, speak straight, be grossly transparent. Make a difference every day.
    
  • Q
    What challenges are your customers facing right now?
    A
    Well, if you had asked me this a year ago, it would have been a whole different set of answers. But we have all had to deal with what I will call these unprecedented times with the COVID-19 and – because I’m having discussions with the C-suite in the food and beverage industry, in specialty chemical, metals, mining, pick your flavor. I think the top three or four there are going to be supply chain disruption, resource management constraints.
    
    I think another big one is really the lack of information to make the decisions. Companies are investing more heavily in integrating their facilities, getting a better look at inventory management, warehouse management systems, the business intelligence and business analytics that are available there to really drive good decision making.
  • Q
    Share a little bit of a history about how Matrix Technologies began and how the company has evolved in the industry.
    A
    The company started in 1980 as a multidiscipline engineering firm in a suburb of Toledo, Ohio. 
    
    The first 10 years or so were about getting the right people on board with Matrix, growing the engineering discipline, developing key relationships with local industrial manufacturers with the goal of becoming the area’s premier engineering firm.
    
    In the late ‘80s and end of the ‘90s there was a huge transformation of industrial automation is and that is where we began our journey into automation and process controls. From there, we were growing at such a rapid pace, built our facilities and our new building in Maumee, Ohio, opened our first regional offices in Indiana in and around that timeframe.
    
    I think we ended up acquiring a regional competitor and at that point became ISO-certified. We were fortunate during those same timeframes to become one of the founding members for the CSIA. and we’re actually one of the first organizations to become certified.
    
    So fast forward to today, hundreds of people, hundreds of professionals in locations geographically across the United States, supporting a wide breadth of markets and submarkets.
    
  • Q
    How do you describe to laypeople what you do?
    A
    Today it’s a lot different than when I first started. I would say within the last 15 years, my subject matter expertise has really been around manufacturing execution system, operations management, the industrial internet of things.
    
    So as somebody says, “Well, what do you do for an organization?” Well, more times than not, I’m helping the C-suite understand the vision of what’s possible in an operational transformation.
    
    Helping them define business goals, initiatives, needs that they need to solve and then helping them do so through the implementation of technology. And at the end of the day, staying with those companies long term as a consultant to continue to work on continuous improvement.