A Conversation With ... Sam Woehler, George Koch Sons and CCAI President
Sam Woehler was recently named president of the Chemical Coaters Association International, which is getting ready to host the Finishing Pavilion at Fabtech, Nov. 12–14 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. He began his career at George Koch Sons as the Human Resources manager before moving to the manufacturing side of the business. He has been the company’s vice president of sales since 2005. We caught up with Sam recently as he was getting ready to pack for Vegas and the show.
What made you decide to become president of CCAI?
SW: I believe in the mission of CCAI—to bring information and training on surface coating technologies, and to raise the standards of finishing operations through education, training and networking. Advancing that mission has never been more important than now, with continuing changes in manufacturing obviously affecting finishing. I want to help and be involved as much as I can.
What do you have in store for the upcoming year
SW: We want to provide better and better education and reach as many people as we can. We’ll continue to update educational materials and provide excellent educational conference sessions, but we’re also exploring other industry-specific statistical reports through surveys. In virtually every geographical area of the U.S. there are active local chapters that offer frequent opportunities for networking and staying current with developments in the industry. We will continue to be a part of Fabtech, and our annual meeting will be back in Portland, Ore., in June 2013. The annual meeting is another excellent opportunity for networking with industry professionals and participating in diverse educational sessions.
You are on the Fabtech Exhibitor Advisory Council. How do you think that event has evolved over the years, and what lies ahead?
SW: I became involved in the Advisory Council the year that the finishing industry became a part of Fabtech through CCAI. Fabtech had always been the central event for manufacturers to attend to learn of new equipment developments and processes. The addition of the CCAI Finishing Pavilion to Fabtech completed the spectrum of manufacturing tools and processes. The event also has traditionally been a hands-on, touch, taste and feel event. That certainly will continue to be the focus, but I also believe that a gathering of professionals of the size that Fabtech consistently attracts is a great opportunity for educational forums. I think that we’ll see the educational aspect of Fabtech continue to grow.
You started out as the Human Resources director at George Koch Sons before working yourself up into the position of V.P. of sales. What’s the biggest difference between the two positions?
SW: I also sandwiched in about 15 years as manufacturing director with Koch between human resources and sales, so I’m enjoying my third professional career with the same company.
The single biggest difference is that my role in sales obviously requires extensive interaction with external customers. I love that aspect because that interaction is the feedback loop for everything else in our organization. That feedback ultimately drives what we do and how we do it, and every aspect of the resources required.
What’s the best personal or professional advice you’ve been given and why?
SW:“Seek first to understand and then to be understood.” I was given the advice because I don’t always do it, and I am still practicing. It is the best advice because, when I do it effectively, I always learn something I did not know, and better outcomes occur.
What book or article have you recently read that you would recommend to a colleague?
SW:A World Without End, by Ken Follett.
What artist or album are you listening to in your car?
SW:Gotye’s Making Mirrors and Glen Hansard’s Rhythm and Repose.
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