A Conversation With Shay Davis, Chemeon Surface Technology


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Shay Davis is an Army veteran who was a crew chief on UH-60 BlackHawk helicopters stationed in South Korea. She has a degree in chemistry and experience in oil/gas operations, automotive and aerospace industries, and is as a subject matter expert in trivalent chrome for the aerospace and metal finishing industries for Chemeon. She was also honored as a Products Finishing 40-Under-40 this year.


PF: How did you select surface finishing as your career?

SD: It was sheer chance. After making a spontaneous move back out west and job hunting for the last six months, I responded to a posting for a bench chemist position. And here I am over three years later.

PF: What led you to be a crew chief on UH-60 BlackHawk helicopters, and how was that experience?

SD: I scored well on the testing, especially mechanical aptitude, so it was the first thing offered. I liked the sound of it and that spontaneous choice turned out to be an amazing experience. I did everything from loading and off-loading passengers and VIPs for the U.N., Ranger training, sling loads, spies and fries, water bucket training and drops, flying the 38th parallel/DMZ in South Korea, and aircraft maintenance and door gunner duties.

PF: Is it difficult to convince applicators to convert to trivalent from hexavalent?

SD: Yes. We all know change is resisted, so that is usually one hurdle. The other hurdles are typically cost and the demand of their customers requesting the hexavalent process, such as major primes and more. I have seen more momentum to convert even in just these last couple of years, though. Companies are focusing on eliminating hazards to their workers and the environment. Chemeon works hard to make the conversion as painless and user-friendly as possible, which helps as well.

PF: What’s the best piece of advice you were given?

SD: My mother once said to me to always keep my head held high, and that has never left me. It also has saved me from walking into light poles. Professionally, Ted Ventresca, the president and chief operating officer of Chemeon, once shared with me: “You will never simply ‘sell’ a person something, a person buys because they trust and believe in you and how the brand, product and service will be a solution to help them succeed.”

PF: What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?

SD: Retail at the mall. I learned that a positive attitude will carry you far.

PF: If you had $100,000 to give to a charity, which one would it be?

SD: World Wildlife Fund

PF: What was your first car, and what is your dream car?

SD: My first car was a 1965 Ford Mustang with a 289 and four on the floor (manual 4 speed). My dream car would be a 2017 Audi RS5-R.

PF: What leadership traits have helped you along the way?

SD: Honesty, self-motivation and creative thinking have been my most helpful leadership traits.

PF: What did you want to be when you grew up?

SD: A medical doctor. I got as far as pre-med during my undergraduate, and decided med school debt just wasn’t something I wanted to tackle later on.

PF: Night owl or early bird?

SD: I am a night owl that wishes she were an early bird.

PF: Favorite place you’ve ever lived?

SD: South Lake Tahoe California, so far.

PF: What organization or company aside from your own do you most admire?

SD: Google.

PF: If you could trade jobs with anyone for a day, who would it be?

SD: The President of the United States.

PF: Where would we find you on a typical Saturday?

SD: Running on a trail or hiking up to a mountain peak. I often have a hard time motivating myself to get up and out, but once I am out, there are no regrets.

PF: Best way to keep competitive edge?

SD: Innovation, communication and a great team.

PF: Personal heroes?

SD: Maria Curie, Malcom X and Mr. Rogers

PF: How do you motivate people?

SD: It turns out that military motivational tactics don’t typically fly in the civilian world, so with positivity, respect and clear expectations.

PF: How do you motivate yourself?

SD: Reminding myself that I work with a great team that deserves my best, and a little self-beratement when I am really needing a kick of motivation.

PF: Three greatest passions?

SD: Outdoor exploration, travel, new experiences.

PF: Most unique office décor?

SD: A figurine of Wonder Woman.

PF: Best business decision?

SD: Treating my customers with the utmost concern for their success and needs.

PF: Worst business decision?

SD: No business decision is the worst. They’re all experiences from which one can learn, at least so far.

PF: Biggest management myth?

SD: Ask me in another year or two.

PF: What advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago?

SD: Be professional, stop talking. Really, just stop.

PF: Word that best describes you?

SD: Honest.



About Shay Davis

Family: I have a 16-year-old track star son, and I am expecting another boy in September. Both my family and my future in-laws are loving and amazing.

Favorite hobby: Exploring the wilderness via backpacking or trail running; maybe a little tree hugging.

Favorite movie:  “Downfall,” also known as “Der Untergang.”

Favorite book: All JRR Tolkien writings and “On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society.”

What’s playing in your car CD/radio: It varies, Parkway Drive, New Metal, classical, modern rock and pop, or a little country. It all depends on the day.