Today we sat down with Bob Ford, new product development Manager with Rotary Lift® but many of you know him from his time managing our Customer Service department. Bob has always been a champion for our customers' and continues that today in his current role. It's employees like Bob that make Rotary Lift what is is today. Take a few minutes to meet Bob, one of Rotary’s Force Behind the Lift.
Q: How long have you been with Rotary Lift?
Bob: I have been working at Rotary for over 17 years.
Q: What do you enjoy about your job?
Bob: I like solving problems. The majority of my career here has been in the areas of Customer Service, Product Management, or New Product Development. In all of these areas, I’ve been focused on making the lift ownership experience better for the consumer. That’s pretty obvious in a customer service role. But it’s true in all areas of this business. Product Managers want to be sure our current product line has the right features, and benefits for the customers as well as ensuring that we maintain high quality. In New Product Development we want to be sure that we have a pipeline of new products and new ideas to keep customers coming back. All in all it’s about making sure the customers are happy and have the best tools to do their jobs.
Q: What is your background here at Rotary?
Bob: I’ve had many roles here at Rotary/VSG - Product Consultant, RAI Program Administrator, Parts and Accessories Sales Manager, Product Marketing and Applications Manager, National Accounts Service Manager, Customer Service Manager, and now Manager of New Product Development. No matter what my title has been over the past 17 years, my focus has been on meeting the needs of our customers. Whether it’s the day to day needs when I started as a Product Consultant in 1997 to the greater need of what will be the next new great lift will be in the market tomorrow, it’s always been about the needs of the customer.
Q: What is something people may not know about developing a new product?
Bob: I would say the amount of time and effort that goes into making new products. I can admit that Rotary is not the fastest to take an idea from concept to getting it to market. In fact I’m sure we take longer than anybody. But that’s why we all sleep really well at night. When many of the companies in our industry have a new design, first lift they make of that design is their first prototype. The second lift they make is shipped to a customer. Rotary is not like that. The engineering, prototyping, and testing process is unmatched by anyone in our industry. I really believe it’s more intense than most industries because of the nature of our business. We make lifts that hold in some cases 10’s of thousands of pounds of steel (vehicles) above mechanics who have families to go home to at the end of the day. We all want to be positive that our products ensure that they all get home to their families safely every single day.
Ok....we know we are side stepping a little from the interview but we also wanted to point out Bob's charitable work with Big Brother Big Sisters. In fact, we'd like to thank our entire Customer Service department for their amazing involvment every year with this program. The support of a great cause like this just goes to show the type of people behind the scences at VSG.
Q: During your work career what are you most proud of?
Bob: I’m probably most proud of the people who have worked for me. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to hire many people over the years. To see those who have worked for me, even those I didn’t hire, get promoted throughout the business lets me know I have made good choices and have been a good mentor. People who have worked for me have moved on to Sales, Training, Quality, Operations, and probably others that I’m not thinking of right now. It feels pretty good to have had that much impact on the business and to see those around me be successful.
Q: What is one fun fact about you that people may not know?
Q: What do you enjoy doing in your time away from work?
Bob: For one I like dining out. More than anything l like to go to almost any kind of live performance. I like concerts, sporting events, plays, etc; anything that gets me out of the house really. Summer is really a great time for me. I live close to Louisville, KY. Every single weekend in the summer you can find some kind of festival or celebration going on in Louisville. Some are big and some are small. Most are free! Just getting out into the air, meeting people, and spending time with great friends is the best. Oh, and throw in going to local wineries and doing wine tasting now and then.
Q: Are you more of a music guy, sports guy or both?
Bob: I enjoy all kinds of music, but you’ll rarely find me listening to it on the radio or on an ipod. I like going to live music. In the past year I’ve seen Buffett, Billie Joel, Rod Stewart, and James Taylor to name a few. Just as much as those, I like going to an outdoor music festival and listening to a band I might not ever heard of (sitting in a bag chair with beer in hand). For me it’s as much about the experience as it is about the music. I’m similar with sports. I like watching sports both live and on TV, but I don’t really follow any team enough to say I’m a die-hard fan. I call myself a fan of Louisville Cardinals (even though I graduated from IU twice), a Reds fan, and a Colts fan. Those are the teams I root for, but ask me to count on my fingers the numbers of players I can name and I won’t get past one hand.
Q: If you purchased one Rotary Lift product what would it be? Why?
Bob: I would probably get a TLO7 TurfLift. When it comes to working on cars and trucks, I usually leave that to a professional. However, I live on a farm and I will do work on tractors, my 4-wheeler, and lawnmower. It would be handy to get those up in the air where they’d be easier to work on.