The Senior Vice President of Sales at Cummings Resources on the awesome power of cycling, why you should always check what is buried beneath the railroad tracks, and what he would not give to have a glass of Zinfandel in an air-conditioned restaurant.
What is the most cherished item in your home office?
My three-screen array of monitors from a productivity standpoint. When I am reduced to using just a laptop, I feel so very inadequate. Personally, however, it is my wife who does an amazing job of keeping tempo by supporting those times when deadlines are approaching and mixing it. She likes to unleash the dogs to “invade my space,” providing those loyal, sympathetic eyes to break up the routine.
What is your favorite time to get things done?
Honestly, I love early mornings and late afternoons and evening hours. It is in those quiet moments, without daily interruptions, that I can spend time looking at our business from the strategic perspective. It enables me to focus on the innovations we have outlined and look at creative new developments. As my fearless leader says, “Working on the business—not in the business.”
What is the soundtrack that plays in the background of your office?
I wish I could say I had one. I check in on website-related passions when a break presents itself—Cyclingnews.com being my favorite.
What does a typical workday look like?
It starts the evening prior. Before bed, I review what the next day holds based on my Outlook Calendar. I try to get my computer fired up and read my Wall Street Journal, Linked-IN and BBC front pages. Then, I dive into my daily newsletters (QSR, CSP, Hotel, etc.) to see what trends are developing. Being based in the Pacific and Mountain Time zones, I find myself participating in team calls fairly early in the morning. I try to ride my bike at least twice a week (don’t tell my boss) on the mornings where calls start at 8 a.m. or later. With COVID, my travel has been reduced to nearly nothing, so I have tried to allocate that “travel time” toward learning opportunities.
How are you staying connected with your team? Customers?
Lots of calls, including some Microsoft Teams. We are trying to be robust in holding a series of twice weekly “check-in calls” to ensure we set aside “space” in the week to discuss all those dreamy ideas that need to be nurtured. Within this “space,” we also talk about those initiatives that will add value to the products and services we offer, or what investments we must prioritize to improve our client service levels.
What is the craziest thing that has ever happened to you on a job site?
OMG. There is one I will never forget. We were building a Bus Service Center for Hertz/Dollar/Thrifty at LAX on a lot backing up to railroad tracks. Prior to groundbreaking, we had done a great deal of due diligence, called 811 and dig alert, etc. We were not getting much feedback from any of these sources.
After about two weeks of this, we were given the “all clear” to proceed. After stripping off the asphalt to start trenching for drainage, we uncovered a pipeline. We started to make calls, and apparently somebody took notice, as all of the sudden the parking lot was full of trucks with blinking lights and really concerned looks. We triggered a street closure in a one block radius.
Turns out we had uncovered two 30-inch high pressure (ranging from 500psi to 1,200psi) natural gas transmission and distribution lines. I cannot even imagine what would have happen had we punctured one of those, but given we were directly under the flight path of LAX, I can easily feel blessed that we did not show up on the front page of every major newspaper the next day. Moral of the story: Remember that railroad lines are a great place to bury utilities.
What are you binge watching right now?
We just finished “Homeland.” Prior to that was Yellowstone. Oh my god do I want to be that guy.
Thoughts on the collegiate and pro seasons—will they get to finish seasons or no?
No. I don’t see pro sports ever being able to recover frankly. I will share that I am not a big pro sport fan to begin with. I love collegiate sports. The highlight of my year is hosting a 400-player (industry members only) March Madness pool. What a great way to share the thrill of common wins and throw out some digs to those who lost a close one. Go Tar Heels.
What sports have you been watching (or waiting to watch)?
Nothing to watch these days. Cycling for me a great sport to watch, as is downhill skiing.
What is the coolest thing you have done since the pandemic hit?
We recently sold our home in Texas (this past June). While driving out west to our temporary living situation in California, we stopped in Colorado to do a rafting trip on the Arkansas River, hike in Zion National Park and a bit of surfing in San Diego. It was quite the departure from shooting guns and the horseback riding we did in Texas. We enjoyed Colorado. It will now be our new home state.
Favorite comfort food.
Chili relleno and a pint of Phish Food from Ben Jerry’s.
Best advice you ever received?
OMG. Where do I start? Clearly, I need a great deal of guidance. Those that I share the most frequently are:
Learn how to say please, thank you and bathroom in as many languages as possible. “God gave you two ears and one mouth, try to use them in that ratio.” (Dad)
Sometimes you can go faster by slowing down. (Herb Gnade of Mahle/Bosch)
Lastly, my German leader at Mahle taught me about a headstone in the business graveyard that says, “But he was right.”
Biggest influence in your life?
Those people (parents and mentors), a number of them, who taught me to treat every personal interaction as if it will be my last interaction in life.
What trait do you most admire?
Those people who can truly connect with others. Being honest, strong and caring, and inquisitive. People who can be direct, while also being kind and empathetic.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I decline to answer. Okay, how about, “Pick a long-range goal and keep your focus on that by spending more time planning and less time responding.”
What is the first thing you are going to do when you are able to get back to some sense of normalcy?
I want so badly to go out to a nice sit-down meal with a group of my peers, inside an air-conditioned restaurant where I can sniff deeply a great glass of Zinfandel.