A Manufacturing Career Could be the Answer for Those Willing to Learn with Sarah Wierman

Episode 202 | Challenges: Growth Workforce

Choosing a new career path or education route can be intimidating, but a manufacturing career may just provide the perfect solution! Sarah Wierman shares her inspiring story and helpful insights into joining the manufacturing industry and how being willing to learn and ask questions can open up new and exciting opportunities. Be sure to listen to the episode for a unique look into changing career paths and learning the ropes of manufacturing from a beginner’s perspective. 

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From deaf studies to a manufacturing career:

Sarah’s story of embracing change 

Working on obtaining her bachelor’s degree in deaf studies, Sarah tried a job in sign language and teaching but found that she hated it. She decided to take a break from her education and took a job in sales at Raptor Workholding on the recommendation of a friend. Little did she know that she would soon fall in love with the manufacturing industry and find her new passion and calling. 

The initial appeal in a sales job was the travel opportunities. Sarah soon discovered that manufacturing was more than producing and delivering products. It was creativity and masterful workmanship created to meet an incredibly wide spectrum of needs - from replacing knees to providing building supplies. Inspired, Sarah took it upon herself to learn as much as she could about the industry and asked questions of everyone she met. “I never stopped talking to people,” she shares. Vendor shows and visiting other shops to sell live tooling afforded her plenty of opportunities to deepen her knowledge of machining. 

Don’t confuse lack of experience with the inability to take action

When Sarah first began her job as a sales rep at Raptor, she didn’t even know what a CNC machine was. After a year of intense learning and diving into the new world of manufacturing, she realized that she wanted to stay in the industry long-term. Her eagerness to learn opened new doors, and she took a job as the regional manager at MD Tooling. “Your lack of experience in the industry doesn’t make you ignorant,” she says. “It makes you eager.” If you find that you truly want to be a part of the manufacturing industry, then you need to be willing to take on the responsibility of learning - and learning well. Listen to the episode to learn more about why Sarah fell in love with machining and why she decided to pursue a manufacturing career.

Sarah’s positive experience as a woman in the manufacturing industry 

Even though there are many women in the manufacturing industry, it still isn’t common. Sarah shares her experiences entering into and growing in an industry that is still considered a man’s world. “It is what you make of it,” she says. Even though some of the people she worked with initially found her presence odd, there was never any hostility or opposition. Once her fellow workers discovered that Sarah was willing to learn and put her best foot forward in every job and customer encounter, they embraced her unique perspectives and place within the team. 

Sarah shares that while it can be intimidating entering a workforce made up almost entirely of men as a young woman, the important thing to focus on is the experience that you are offering customers and your teammates. View obstacles as challenges and find ways to overcome them. It’s about being collaborative and willing to find the solution and solve the problems that arise. Everyone has something unique to offer, and being confident in one’s perspective - while also acting and speaking in humility - will take you farther than you ever thought possible. 

Use unique avenues to learn something new

Learning about a new career opportunity can be daunting. Sarah shares some tips for exploring the manufacturing industry as a new career. Mentors can be invaluable in helping you navigate how to get started, who to talk to, and how to put your best foot forward. Investing in relationships should be a key component of your entire career, but especially when starting out. You will always need others to help you and provide a place for you to seek advice. Never stop asking questions and making room for edifying voices in your life. 

Social media isn’t just a business marketing tool. It can be a learning tool for exploring new career paths as well! Sarah explains how she began an Instagram page for Raptor Workholding and soon discovered other manufacturing-related pages from which she learned an invaluable amount of insight and skill. Don’t be intimidated by having to learn a new industry. Put yourself out there. Use social media to learn more about the culture and the skills required. Ask questions and make it fun! Manufacturing isn’t just about the products. It’s about the people, meeting the needs of those across the nation and the world, and creating something beautiful out of ordinary hunks of metal. 

Here’s The Good Stuff!

  • A massive career change led Sarah to discover her true passion. 
  • The importance of taking responsibility for your own education. 
  • Live tooling allows machinists to take their tooling to the next level. 
  • Appreciating the creative side of manufacturing. 
  • Being a woman in the manufacturing industry. 
  • Recognizing that everyone has a unique perspective. 
  • The importance of mentors in launching your career. 
  • Using social media as a marketing and learning tool. 
  • Being brave enough to step out and ask questions.

Tools & Takeaways

This Week’s Superstar Guest: Sarah Wierman

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Jason Zenger: Jim, I know you got that job on xometry.com, where'd you get the material from?

Jim Carr: Well, funny you should ask. I did get that job, part of their vendor partner network and Xometry just started to sell material on their supplies network. It's awesome. I get the job from them. I don't even have to think about the size or the alloy or the material. They tell me exactly what size I'm going to need, have the price, and bam, it's done. It's in my inbox and I'm out. So go to xometry.com and check out their supplies network to buy 6061 aluminum.

Jason Zenger: Welcome to MakingChips. We believe that manufacturing is challenging, but if you are connected to a community of leaders, you can elevate your skills, solve your problems and grow your business. I'm your host, Jason Zenger and I'm joined by my cohost Jim Carr and we are still here at Haas in California.

Jim Carr: Yes, we are at the Haas automation headquarters.

Jason Zenger: Yeah, And we have a special guest that drove out here to meet up with us and she happens to be out here in California as well. So it just worked out well. And we're ready to hit the beach pretty soon too after this, aren't we?

Jim Carr: Well, I don't know if I'm going to hit the beach, I'll gladly join whoever wants to join me at the pool for margarita and chips.

Jason Zenger: Okay. I'll join you at the pool for margaritas.

Jim Carr: Yeah, that sounds pretty good. But no, I'm excited to hear Sarah's story today. She's a different type of manufacturing leader.

Jason Zenger: You weren't supposed to let the Sarah out of the bag yet. [crosstalk 00:01:38]

Jim Carr: It's okay. I want to apologize for her in advance because we had her scheduled to record this episode in May of 2019.

Jason Zenger: I know, I didn't have my groupie with me to carry the equipment.

Jim Carr: Yeah. What do you know that didn't workout for poor Sarah.

Jason Zenger: Jim keeps me in check though. Sometimes you-

Jim Carr: No kidding.

Jason Zenger: Have to have business partners to keep you on the straight and narrow and make sure you've got all your stuff with you.

Jim Carr: That's okay because now I'm in California and we're with Sarah and we're at Haas Automation and we're learning all about new types of manufacturing systems, challenges, differentiators, and looking forward to hearing Sarah's story and her journey into manufacturing from a vastly different type of story.

Jason Zenger: So what do you got good going on?

Jim Carr: I just got a text from my son, I had 30 seconds before we hit the record button and he sent me a picture of all this stuff that we're shipping today and I'm super excited because I know I can invoice that and that makes me very happy because I know there's more than a couple dollars on that skid. So yeah, it's, that's a good thing. So things are good, things are really good quite frankly. How about you? Have you been checking in?

Jason Zenger: You know what, I was, that was actually what I was going to talk about is I haven't heard from my office.

Jim Carr: Why?

Jason Zenger: So either either they shut the doors and-

Jim Carr: They don't like you anymore.

Jason Zenger: Turned off the phone and locked up and said we're going to close down while Jason's gone. Or they're just handling everything. So kudos to people at Zenger's.

Jim Carr: But do they know you're not going to, you're going to be a complete, if you hear anything good or bad, are you, do you know, they don't want to disrupt you.

Jason Zenger: No, they know that I'm out here in California for MakingChips and they would not hesitate to contact me.

Jim Carr: Oh, okay, good.

Jason Zenger: Oh absolutely not, no.

Jim Carr: Because they know how you are and they know how you-

Jason Zenger: They know that I want to help if I can, you know what I mean? So like if there was something that they needed help with, they would contact me, they chat me, we have like an internal chat, or they would text me, or email me, or call me. So they would not hesitate to do that. But they're handling it. So I'm very happy about that.

Jason Zenger: One of the things I've been dealing with for the last like six months with our ERP change is that I've had to be so hands on for the last six months and it's been tough.

Jim Carr: I know.

Jason Zenger: Because I haven't had the opportunity to do the, okay, where are we going to be in three to five years? I've just been dealing with what are we doing right now? And I've had to be very hands on, so they have been contacting me. But I think that they're finally in a groove. Things are going well with the new system. And so it's good.

Jim Carr: Are you starting to see the fruits of your labor behind that ERP system?

Jason Zenger: My team is, and thank goodness for them, they're starting to not have to work the exorbitant amount of hours that they had to before because of the change.

Jim Carr: Oh got ya.

Jason Zenger: And they, I have a lot of very dedicated people and God bless for them that they just put in the time in order to get things moving with the ERP system. So because it required some extra hours.

Jim Carr: Yeah, to be sure. So speaking of margaritas with salt. Can you tell the Metal Working Nation? What is The Boring Bar? What is that all about, Jason? Can they get a margarita at The Boring Bar?

Jason Zenger: Eventually you'll be able to, but what The Boring Bar actually is, is it's our our newsletter-

Jim Carr: I knew that.

Jason Zenger: And send an email to the Metal Working Nation once a week and just give them a link to the podcast and a link to other articles that we write that the manufacturing leader might be interested in.

Jim Carr: How do they get that?

Jason Zenger: They have to text chips to three eight four seven zero. How about manufacturing news? What do you got for us Jim?

Jim Carr: Well, Nick was the one that wrote the show structure, but it's really kind of interesting is that we're talking about NIMS partnering with Festo.

Jason Zenger: Yeah, so I'm looking at this article, Jim, and it says the national Institute for Metal Working Skills or NIMS is in a partnership with Festo Didactic and they're developing skills, standards and credentials for jobs involving manufacturing digitalization and the industrial internet of things or IIOT technology.

Jason Zenger: So we're actually going to be having Montez from NIMS, are going to be coming on the show soon. He's going to be flying out to Chicago just to see us. So thank you Montez for that. [crosstalk 00:05:38] He's got a great story and we're looking forward to hearing from him and it looks like he's putting some great partnerships together because you know what people need to understand and be able to put their team through training and the IIOT. And so this is going to be good and hopefully you'll hear some more about.

Jim Carr: Here is a quote from that article. It says this is an exciting development for manufacturers and educators as it directly addresses both the data driven revolution happening in manufacturing today and the skills gaps, says Montez King executive director at NIMS. Yet it's going to be interesting to see how they do that because if they, if NIMS is credentialing a product and validating it to the general public, you know it's got to be good because NIMS has been around for a long time. They're a really credible source to put credentials on products and innovation for us in manufacturing. So yeah, I'll have to check out that [inaudible 00:06:33]. Honestly, I don't know too much about it, but I know it's a measuring system and I will have to check it out. I really honestly do not know too much about it, but what I do know is if NIMS is validating it, it's got to be a really fantastic game changer in our industry.

Jason Zenger: Absolutely. So Jim, could you introduce our guest please?

Jim Carr: I absolutely will. It's my pleasure today to introduce our guest. She's got quite a story that I'm looking forward to hearing. She is a dynamic female leader in the Metal Working Nation with an impressive sales and marketing resume. She has a degree in deaf studies from California State, Northridge. She led sales and marketing efforts for Raptor Workholding, everything from trade shows and social media to organizing partner relationships with OEMs and machine tool dealers. She now manages the sales activity in the 11 western states for MD Tooling. Sarah, welcome again to making ships and it's a really pleasure to have you with us today.

Sarah Wierman: Thank you. It's great to be here.

Jason Zenger: Yeah, welcome Sarah. So deaf studies, that's not the most typical background that somebody would take in the industry. I know that like that's an issue here. I mean, you've got these loud machines and they're buzzing and people have complained about that. OSHA has regulations, you got to make sure you protect your ears. I mean, there's a lot of people that talk about having issues with their hearing, but I don't think that's a reason why you got that degree and why you're here. So tell us about your background and how you ended up into this Metal Working industry.

Sarah Wierman: Yeah, well you're right. It's has no correlation at all. I had no idea that I would ever end up in this industry, and at the same time, I'm so grateful that I did. But I got into deaf studies just because, honestly it was an interest to me and I got my AA degree in sign language interpreting. And so actually I did attend CSUN for a year and a half. And then the last semester I actually pulled one of those, you know what? I need a little break for a little while. I'll be back. But I didn't.

Jason Zenger: Did you go surfing?

Sarah Wierman: Yeah, I did every day, you know? No. And in honesty, I think we all know how that usually goes. You plan to go back and you start getting into the work force. And what I had actually done is I started working and I just kind of realized that that was not going to be a passion of mine.

Sarah Wierman: So that's not a big deal for everybody. But-

Jason Zenger: We do talk about in the show that college is not for everybody. You know what I mean? And this industry can provide a great career in a variety of different ways without having that college degree.

Sarah Wierman: Right. That's true. So, at the time I wasn't too worried about it. What I did find was that it wasn't a passion to me to be working in that field and interpreting as much as I loved the language. So that's kind of how that came about.

Jason Zenger: So how'd you end up in the machining industry?

Sarah Wierman: So I want to start by saying, when I got into this industry, I had never heard of a CNC machine before.

Jim Carr: Oh, this is great.

Jason Zenger: Yeah. I had never heard of a CNC machine before and I felt like everybody was speaking in a different language because-

Jason Zenger: Seriously?

Sarah Wierman: Because they were.

Jim Carr: Well, okay, interesting. Well we've talked about-

Jason Zenger: There is another language there though, there's no doubt about that.

Jim Carr: Okay. So continue.

Sarah Wierman: Yeah. So I got a call from a friend who I went to high school with, her name is Rachel and she called me and said, hey, I'm, she was working at a machine shop over here in Burbank called SNH Machine. And she said, my boss has this side business and it's called Raptor Workholding. And basically they make fixtures, dovetail fixtures for foreign five-axis milling and we need somebody to learn the product and be face to face with customers at marketing events. So shows and open houses and meetings. And Raptor had a very big presence in the industry, but very small operations. So there was literally nobody to leave the office. There had to be somebody to pick up the phone and ship orders. So the appeal to me at the time was that I could travel. And so I said, so I went for it. And that was my start into the industry.

Jason Zenger: And tell us about that journey. So here you come from out of industry, now you're dealing with manufacturing leaders, you're dealing with shop floor employees who are making setups in these CNC machines that you know nothing about and now you're showing up at their door and you're trying to sell them Workholding products, right? Tell us some success and not so successful stories about how that went.

Sarah Wierman: Well, it was all so new and I've never had too big of a problem with asking questions, which I think is really key to anybody getting in this industry or even just if you have a background in the industry. So I spent that whole year and at that point my job was just to market this product, learn and market this product. Not so much heavy sales, but I went through that year of asking as many questions as I can and trying to understand the people whoever it was in front of me, what they're telling me about their application or what they do in general. I really spent that time learning as much as I could.

Jason Zenger: So you found yourself that people were wanting to help you. It wasn't the situation where you're like, I'm going to try to tell you all about this product because you didn't know anything about it. So you were asking questions and that helped you to learn more about the product and also develop a, I guess a network of people that you can now depend on, because we just finished interviewing Mark Terryberry from Haas and he's like, Oh yeah, I know Sarah. So obviously you have a lot of people here that you have really established a good network in our industry.

Sarah Wierman: Yeah. You know what I did is I just never stopped talking to people. And to me it didn't matter who they were. So let's say we're set up at our show and we have a slow hour and I would and still do, go to all the tables set up on our row and I'll pick something up, pick up a tool or ask about their coolant or whatever it is. And I just ask them, like, explain to me how this relates and how it works with either our tooling or in shops. And I just never stopped talking to people. So let's fast forward a year later, I had made so many connections and met with people and realized that I really wanted to pursue this industry more seriously, full time sales. And that's basically what I did. And I can't remember if that was your question.

Jason Zenger: Yeah, no, that was, yeah, I mean I guess there was an authenticity to you really mean inquisitive to what goes on in our industry, so that's good. Yeah.

Jim Carr: So then from Raptor, you made all these new connections, you've learned a good chunk of the industry, and then all of a sudden you moved on to cutting tools. Is that right? Tell us a little bit about MD Tooling. I'm not really that familiar with it.

Sarah Wierman: Yeah, so MD Tooling, we provide driven and static tooling for lathes. So we've got the tool holders that go in the live turn lathes, yeah.

Jim Carr: So live turns. Okay, gotcha.

Jason Zenger: I'm kind of in that same boat that you're in. So like my company, we sell tooling and we sell cutting tools and tool holders and Workholding and stuff like that. So I'm a little bit on the outside as well. So I'm not like a machinist. I don't, like Jim, I don't own a machine shop. So I'm not kind of like in the inner circle, kind of like you're not in the inner circle. So there's a certain amount of, I guess what you would say, like insecurity with which you're not like fully embraced into the group. So how have you gotten over some of those challenges?

Sarah Wierman: I love that question. So, okay, how do I say this? Your lack of experience in the industry, it doesn't make you ignorant. It makes you eager. Now that's only if you actually have a desire to be in the industry and you're eager to learn. And I think that-

Jason Zenger: Authentically eager, not just for-

Sarah Wierman: Yeah, authentically eager, not just to make the sale or to just have a job, but if you want to be in this industry, there's going to be that feeling just naturally of insecurity. Because like we said, there's a whole different language. Like people are all of a sudden it asking you about like repeatability and everything's in centimeters and all these different things. But I think with that is you have to take the responsibility to always be learning. So it's inevitable that these questions are going to come up that you don't have answers to and you have to be secure in what you don't know yet.

Sarah Wierman: And the yet is important. And it's only because you're confident that you're going to change that. So you're going to learn and you're going to take the responsibility that, okay, this person is asking me a question now I'm going to not only get that answer for them on a timely manner, but I'm going to make sure I fully understand the answer to that question. Put that in your file box and your brand and next time that question comes up, you're going to just feel more confident in that situation. And the more you know the, I guess the less confidence you lack.

Jim Carr: Well, so you're selling tools for live turret CNC machines. So it's a two axis CNC machine with live tooling. So you're selling the actual rotating adapters that are going on that turret. And then of course the collets, the holders. Not necessarily the cutting tools though. Not the drills, not the taps, not the end mills that are going to go in. But you're actually selling those stations to the Metal Working industry?

Sarah Wierman: Correct.

Jim Carr: Okay. Because I don't have any CNC turning in my shop right now yet. It's something that we are aspiring to get into in the very near future. We're strictly a three and four axis precision machine shop. But tell us a little bit about that because I think it's really interesting what you learned about actually cutting because now you're really dealing with automation and technology and you've had to have been in shops for where they've said, you know, we're running this titanium job or a 4140 pre hard material or aluminum and we need you to come in and fill the turret with this live tooling. So can you explain somebody for me that really doesn't understand it, that is just entry level how how I would begin to buy this type of tooling for my turning center?

Sarah Wierman: Yeah, it really depends on the nature of your work. So you might do something where you're utilizing just a little bit of driven tools and you're doing a little bit of drilling and something where you're doing more milling and it really just, it's depends on each shop and I utilize our engineering manager a lot for that, but I certainly also get by with what I've learned on the different operations and if they're boring or if they're in need of like gear hobbers, if they're doing a lot of slotting broaching work. Sure. So it really just depends. But I find that with anytime somebody gets a live turret lathe, it's their first one, usually there is a general like starter package and then from there we really have to kind of work one on one. If it's not something that they know how to get started on, what kind of tooling to choose.

Jason Zenger: So going back to like kind of getting into the industry, at least from my perspective, it seemed like the industry, it was always the where people are like, oh that that person, they don't know what they're talking about. Like they don't know the things that we do. And that was kind of the old mentality. And I think hopefully things are shifting to more of, we need people in this industry. Okay. And so we need to be more open to people. We need to be more open to people that are asking questions and we need to be more willing to tell people about the manufacturing, especially people that are like yourself, who are new to the industry and want to be a part of it because we need more new people. Obviously that's changed. And it seems like it has changed for you from the time that you've been in the industry. What is it about being in this industry besides some of the great training that you've had and people that have accepted you? What is it that made you fall in love with this manufacturing community?

Sarah Wierman: What really made me fall in love with it was the creativity. I've always been a little bit of a creator. I've painted, I've made things, I've made jewelry, puts stuff together, and when I first got into this industry, first coming into it not knowing, you just you think it's all, you don't see it for what it is or you've heard things about the manufacturing industry and you don't realize until you walk into a shop and you see like this piece of metal that's like kind of ugly at first. It's this matted dirty piece of metal and they put it-

Jason Zenger: Just a chunk of metal.

Sarah Wierman: Yeah, and they put it, it's basically a blank canvas. They put it in a machine and they program it and it comes out into something that's going to go inside your body to repair something in your body or it's going to get shot up-

Jason Zenger: Yeah, like replace a knee or a hip or something like that. Yeah.

Sarah Wierman: Yeah, or it's going to get shot out into outer space or something. So I really fell in love with not just the machining itself but where everything is going. And my first year in the industry I worked a lot just like on the ground level. Like I was always with the machines, by the machines, with the machinists, which I learned, I feel an accelerated version of getting into this industry that way. But it was seen-

Jim Carr: So you think that benefited, just being out there on the shop floor?

Sarah Wierman: Yeah, absolutely, and-

Jim Carr: Did the shop floor people accept you with open arms?

Sarah Wierman: Yes and no.

Jim Carr: Okay. No fee... I want you to be honest.

Sarah Wierman: Yes. That's like a whole good-

Jim Carr: Well let's talk about that because it's all about being different in this industry and I think you have an advantage. You're a very likable person-

Sarah Wierman: Thank you.

Jim Carr: And you're hungry to make a difference in this industry. And I know it's all about being different. I think the way that I own and operate my manufacturing company is different than, I certainly want to display the image in our culture that is completely different from every other machine shop out there. And I think you feel like that too. So tell me how that experience was good and bad about being?

Sarah Wierman: Okay, so like there's the elephant in the room. I'm a female and I'm younger.

Jim Carr: Right, you are, whatever.

Sarah Wierman: Yeah. And not that it's an elephant, but I think sometimes people worry about asking me like, so how is it being a woman in the industry? And that's really, I think what makes me different-

Jason Zenger: Sarah, how is it being a woman in this industry?

Sarah Wierman: So for me it has, okay, it is what you make of it.

Jason Zenger: It is what you make of it.

Sarah Wierman: Just like any job anybody does, whether they're a man or like there's always going to be specific things that are maybe barriers or walls that you have to break down. And in this case it's still considered a man's industry. And there's the reality of things. What I have always done is just focus on why I'm there, focus on what I can control. So if I'm walking up to a customer and they see me and they have doubts, I can't control what they're thinking. But what I can control is the experience that they have from the time we start talking shop to the time I walk out the door.

Sarah Wierman: And my priority walking in is the same when I walk out, is did they get what they need? I've found that focusing on that it kind of, you have nothing to worry about after that because whatever preconception they may have had is usually gone because by the time you actually start talking about the applications and talking about the work, people just zone into that. And it's been a positive experience for me. And if anything-

Jim Carr: Good, that makes me happy to hear.

Sarah Wierman: Yeah. And if anything, I think it's been like a powerful aspect for me because I take it on as a challenge always. So I have actually had people who felt comfortable enough to tell me, to be honest when you were walking in, like I was just kind of rolling my eyes. I was like, I don't know why you're here. Why did they send you in? But it's always been followed up with, but I was very impressed by your knowledge of the industry, your knowledge of your tooling, et cetera. So-

Jason Zenger: Have you had any bad experiences that you could share a story with us?

Sarah Wierman: You know, I haven't had a lot of bad ones. There's always people who maybe try to test you-

Jason Zenger: Right, I'm sure you've felt that.

Sarah Wierman: They'll try to test you and it's all about the way you handle it. I don't feel like I've ever gotten too stuck and I don't pretend to know anything I don't know. And yeah, sure. We've had a couple of guys say maybe like semi borderline inappropriate things and I kind of just, it's the way you play it off, the way you either punched back with a joke but they kind of get it, or it's the way you handle yourself.

Jim Carr: It really is.

Sarah Wierman: But I haven't had too much of an issue. And I think that especially now people kind of, they know-

Jim Carr: Well it's not the 1970s anymore. Although manufacturing is lagging behind, we are definitely evolving as an industry and it's refreshing to hear that you're getting acceptance. Because it wouldn't affect me at all if a woman came in and tried to sell me cutting tools or Workholding or anything else. All I care about is here I am, I have this problem. And the problem is I need to run this job 30 percent more efficiently than I was doing it yesterday. So if you have a solution for me and you can help me out, I don't care. I really don't care. Let's work on this together. It's all about being collaborative. It's all about here's the problem, here's the solution, and how fast are we going to get it done? At what cost?

Sarah Wierman: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, and that's a good point because people do ask me all the time also, is it an advantage to you being a woman in the industry? And I just tell them like, you know what? I don't know if it's, maybe there's times where someone's let me in the door where they wouldn't and maybe there's not. But when it comes down to it, I've found that most people and men in this industry or women who are trying to look for the solutions, like they need the solution or you, they need to get back to work. They're not going to waste time just to waste time. They're also going to need results.

Jim Carr: Do you think that coming from outside of industry and not being like me decades in that you can bring a different perspective and a different way to look at a problem? I would certainly think that it would because I always say the best board of directors, the best groups, the best collaborations that I can get is, I remember when I was the chairman of the board of a manufacturing association, I always said, I want a diverse group of people sitting at the table because I know at the end of the day everybody in sitting at this table has a unique skill set and a unique perspective on something and I don't care if they're outside of industry or not. Everyone is going to throw a great idea on the table and when we all look at that idea together, unified, we're going to make things happen and we're going to make the world change. Do you feel as though that you can bring a different perspective and just help them get their solutions done faster?

Sarah Wierman: Yeah, so I've had experiences like that. Let's say when I'm working with our engineering manager, so maybe somebody sends over a drawing or gives us a scenario and I'm working with him. I've had scenarios in that type of situation where it's almost like, because it was a blank canvas in the beginning, I see some other possibilities. And I think that came also though with, this is like my seventh and a half, eighth years into the industry. So I have at times surprised myself because I'll ask him, but couldn't they also like cut from this side or do it this way? And it's always fun when that happens because every once in a while he'll be like, oh actually yeah, that makes sense. So I don't know if that's from not having, you hear a lot of times like that's the way it's always done.

Jim Carr: Right. That's a dangerous statement.

Sarah Wierman: Yeah. And so you hear that all the time and they just automatically go, they see that feature and they automatically go to that exact way that a lot of people do it. So I've had instances like that. And also I would say with the marketing point of view, coming up with some cool ideas and I think there's definitely an advantage. Again, if you have the genuine interest in it, you start, asking yourself different questions on how to get different results.

Jason Zenger: You had the opportunity just the other day to help our friend Brandon, who's new to the machining industry. What was that story about? Because you mentioned something to me more at the airport.

Jim Carr: Yeah, well this is about Sarah, but I will share this because it's kind of in the same thing. So we interviewed a young entrepreneurial CNC machinist who started a shop in Connecticut recently and he does a lot of Instagram and I follow him on Instagram and he had a story and he was showing the cutting path of the tool. And being that I was an old school machinist, I said to myself, he's not cutting that in the right direction. He's throwing the chips out away into the glass or the door area. And it really wasn't right. So I messaged him, I DM'd him right away and I said, Brandon, I think, I said, why are you machining from left to right? You should be machining from right to left to throw the chip towards the back of the machine [crosstalk 00:27:23]. He said, Jim, that's awesome, but you know-

Jason Zenger: Why didn't you just tell them to get a backwards end mill?

Jim Carr: From Zenger's Industrial, right?

Jason Zenger: Yeah, we've got those.

Jim Carr: No, yeah. So we are a community of leaders that really genuinely want everyone to be successful and it's all about sharing and it's all about bringing a different perspective to the table. So I totally get it and I think it's admirable of you to jump in and see.

Jason Zenger: Is it on the shared drive? Is it on the Google drive? Is it on the Dropbox? Is it on the E drive? The C drive? Makes me nuts.

Jim Carr: You have no idea. I'm telling you, Jason, before we converted to Pro Shop ERP, it was literally, we had things everywhere. It was in Word, it was in Google, it was on that drive. It was on the other drive. It was, right now, since we converted to Pro Shop ERP, everything is in Pro Shop. It's our one source for all information.

Jason Zenger: That takes the pain away.

Jim Carr: It certainly does.

Jason Zenger: Go to pro shop erp.com for more information. Bam.

Jason Zenger: Do you have any like mentors who have really helped you and guided you through this industry in the very beginning and how was that impactful?

Sarah Wierman: Yeah, definitely. Actually before I had decided to dive in doing sales in this industry when I was really just, I was marketing the product. I had built a couple of relationships, made a couple of friends. And I had a friend Tom Hensel, who's at Mellon Cutting Tools now and he really actually mentored me into this industry because I had already made that first step in getting in, but I think that he saw the eagerness that I had to learn more and at the same time he had been in the industry for a while and understood the need for that, for people who are eager to get into it because there's such a shortage. I would say that he gave me that confidence boost and I was able to ask him questions. What am I getting myself into?

Sarah Wierman: What I had basically done is I approached Raptor, I called them together for a meeting and I said, hey guys, I want to work for you full time as a sales, either representative or manager or something because your product really, like I've been watching people's reactions to your product for the last year and you guys need this like, and they need this and the product deserves to really get out there and push.

Sarah Wierman: So I basically rolled out my first real sales pitch and it was to sell them on the idea of hiring me as their basically sales manager. So I did have some key relationships like that and it were, if it had not been for that, I don't know if I would have approached it in the same way. So I think that's really important and I would tell people getting into this industry you want to keep learning and you want to keep building relationships because you're going to need those people. Another example is, so I'm the West coast sales manager and we have an East coast sales manager, Brad Jones. So he's, I'm West coast, he's East coast and we call each other all the time just to bounce off like sales ideas or tactics or ways about going about business. And it's good to have those people at, yeah, there were some key people in the beginning of getting into the industry.

Jason Zenger: How has Instagram helped you in your career? Because I know you're active there and try to cultivate a community there as well.

Sarah Wierman: It's basically been the best.

Jim Carr: Okay. Seriously?

Sarah Wierman: It's, oh yeah. Oh yeah. So I first got on Instagram when I was at Raptor and I remember telling my bosses like, hey, do you mind if I start an Instagram for Raptor? And they didn't exactly knock it down, but they were like, I guess if you want to spend time on that.

Jim Carr: They had no idea what you could do with it.

Sarah Wierman: Yeah. And frankly, I didn't know what I couldn't do with it, but I thought, hey, if I get 10 followers, okay that's 10 people who know about the product and hopefully it can help a couple of them and in their shop and-

Jason Zenger: That was kind of our sentiment when we started MakingChips as well, to be honest with you, we can get like ten people to listen, that's great.

Sarah Wierman: I've heard you guys say that before and I totally relate to that because it's the exact same thing. But I went on there and I started posting and I realized there's this ginormous community and I totally judged it ahead of time because I was thinking, yeah, machinists aren't going to be on Instagram. That's for just millennials only.

Jason Zenger: No, they live there.

Sarah Wierman: And I under estimated it. Yeah. And so it's been fantastic. Out of being on social media, I collaborated with a lot of people and companies that have huge followings that we did either joint marketing campaigns or they use the product and we got featured and, but not just that, just being able to continue to understand what's going on like on the ground floor of manufacturing and seeing other people's parts and ideas. So-

Jim Carr: By following them and-

Sarah Wierman: Yeah. So not only is it good for business, but good for learning because you're not just seeing things-

Jason Zenger: Sure. Sure. I love that.

Sarah Wierman: That are in magazines and ideal parts or pretty honest and open, I think on social media. It's been great.

Jason Zenger: Do you think that's been like one of the major sources of your growth?

Jim Carr: Yeah. Thank you for answering that.

Jason Zenger: I knew you're struggling there, buddy. I'm always here for you.

Sarah Wierman: Actually it plays a big role.

Jim Carr: I'm sure.

Sarah Wierman: Yeah, it does.

Jim Carr: I'm sure it does.

Sarah Wierman: It does. It plays a really big role in my growth in the industry and what I've learned.

Jim Carr: So I always say this to our guests when we're ready to end. What would you say to somebody who is in a career who isn't, doesn't feel passionate about what they're doing now and want to-

Jason Zenger: They want to create things. They want to be in an industry where they're creating things. And I think that is one of the very alluring characteristics of our industry. And that's one of the reasons that Sarah got into it as well.

Jim Carr: Right. But what would you say to that person that's gone to college and got a degree in something that they're just not passionate about anymore?

Jason Zenger: Like basket weaving?

Jim Carr: Something like that. I mean you made a big step and you took a chance on manufacturing and it really turned out to be successful. So what would you say to that woman or man out there that's in a dead end career and not feeling that fire in their heart for what they're doing? Tell them about manufacturing and tell them what happened. I mean just what would you advise them?

Sarah Wierman: I would advise them to like take a genuine look into it. Find some people. I mean I am always the first person to say are you kind of interested? Because I have like 10 people you can talk to and just learn more what it's about. It's not about just making the things working in the machine shop, but like I was thinking earlier like where those products are going. And especially for somebody who likes processes and technology and all of that. It's so much more fun than the perception that a lot of people have. But honestly, Instagram, YouTube, like start looking up some stuff and be willing to learn and put yourself out there. And I genuinely believe that anybody could learn anything as long as you put like some dedication to it. So don't let that scare you. But there's so much opportunity in this industry and I have actually recruited some friends into it and I'm going to keep recruiting people into it as much as I can.

Jim Carr: Great. Fantastic. Sarah it's been an absolute pleasure to meet you.

Sarah Wierman: Thank you.

Jim Carr: And you're shining a bright light on the industry and I'm proud to know you and to have you say that you're a friend of the industry, so continued success.

Sarah Wierman: Yeah, you're welcome. Jason.

Jason Zenger: Yeah, that was great. I'm glad we got Sarah on the show. She was out in Chicago and Nick and I were, were able to have lunch with her.

Jim Carr: Oh, you didn't tell me that.

Jason Zenger: Yeah, you'll see it on my expense report.

Jim Carr: Yeah, okay.

Jason Zenger: It was great. And we got to know Sarah and knew that she had a great story that we needed to tell. So we're out here in California and she came up to meet us. So it worked out. It worked out really well.

Jim Carr: So when you think back about people outside of industry that might not know what we do on a day to day basis, like I asked Sarah, what would you advise them? It's really difficult to, much like Sarah, she was teaching deaf people and it was, that's like a really huge shift in career.

Jason Zenger: Well, I like that statement of there was two things. Go online and learn, so many places to do that and put yourself out there, be willing to ask the questions because there's so many people that are not willing to ask the questions. And there's also, I think a real change in our industry where people used to be very guarded, and we've talked about that before. And people-

Jim Carr: Oh, totally. My dad. My dad.

Jason Zenger: I would say even I would say even to the point of being snobby about it, you're not one of us, but I'm really hoping that changes and and hopefully the people that have-

Jim Carr: Oh, it definitely is.

Jason Zenger: People hopefully that have that attitude of you're not one of us. Hopefully somebody that is in within that community will say something going to be like, you need to be a little bit more kind to people outside the industry because we need them.

Jim Carr: We do. Absolutely and we need good people too, and genuine people. It's great to have Sarah here because she knows the importance of MakingChips because if you're not MakingChips, you're not making money. Bam.

Jason Zenger: If you're not MakingChips, you're not making money. Bam.

Speaker 4: As always, thank you for listening to the MakingChips podcast. You need to increase the speed and feed of your business. If you're not elevating your manufacturing leadership, you're going to get left behind. The Metal Working Nation is committed to a new way to stay ahead of the competition. We have more content to help you make and elevate at makingchips.com. Gain access to exclusive content as well as videos. Blogs, show notes and more resources designed to equip and inspire you. We'll see you next time.

Jason Zenger: I got a, I got it. I got it. If you're not MakingChips, you're not making eggs.


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