Meet Our Swagelok® Assembly Solutions Product Manager, Neil Ide
by Jeff Hopkins, on 6/17/15 8:00 AM
When customers have an idea for custom equipment, Ide helps make it a reality
Visitors to our Will-Call desk have the opportunity to see displays that are the work of one of our team members: Neil Ide. As our product manager, Assembly Solutions, he's designed and built a showcase for our products and how they work. It's not the biggest part of his job, but will be one of the most visible to visitors.
"It has been an interesting challenge because up to now most of my engineering focus has been on process piping systems, electricity distribution and controls, and pneumatics," he says.
Though he joined us only a little over a year ago, we've known Ide for years as a Swagelok customer. He had been equipment manager for Bloom Energy, a startup that makes power generation systems based on fuel cells. It was Ide's job to work with the R&D science teams to develop and build test equipment.
"I really liked the high quality products that Swagelok made, and I liked the caliber of the people I worked with in the organization," Ide says.
Tony De Luca, our director of sales and marketing, had very similar thoughts. When we decided to add the role of product manager, Assembly Solutions to take our Assembly Solutions program to a higher level, he gave Ide a call.
Ide liked working for Bloom, but was looking for new opportunities. Here was a chance to work for an organization that was small enough that he could make an impact, yet backed by the global resources of Swagelok.
"I really wanted to get involved in growing a department," Ide says.
Ide has always been fascinated by the technical side of things. Yes, he was one of those kids who always took things apart to see what made them go. Fortunately, his family made sure he was well supplied with items that had already outlived their usefulness. From there he went on to build things in the garage with his father, and with his Boy Scout troop. When he grew up, Ide went into the Navy, where he served on submarines as a nuclear plant operator.
Having that kind of experience behind him, Ide felt no intimidation coming to Swagelok Northern California. He's building up our Assembly Solutions program to handle more complex assemblies. As for the display in the Will-Call area, it's more than just decoration.
"When customers come into Will-Call, they may not always be aware of the wide range of products and services that Swagelok Northern California can offer," Ide says. "Nothing helps show the product like a nice display."
But there will be a functional element as well. The display will help educate the customers on the different types of fittings available to them and how they are deployed in the industry. Ide intends to include a touchscreen interface so that customers can get specific information on various Swagelok products.
Another one of Ide's projects has been our new Customer Briefing Center, an entire room full of process piping equipment, all to serve an imitation nuclear reactor. (Don't worry, ours runs on compressed air and water.) For each step in the process, Swagelok has a line of products that support the operation: gas panels, water distribution, utility supply and more. The CBC really gets to the heart of our Assembly Solutions capabilities.
Ideas become reality
"The biggest long-range goal I have is to help us aggressively expand our Assembly Solutions business," Ide says. "Being a former customer, part of the perspective I bring is that I didn't even realize Swagelok was getting into this business, to build more integrated assemblies that use Swagelok components. My account manager said, 'We can build a distribution panel for you,' and I was amazed at the pricing that was quoted to me. It was one of the best prices I had ever been given for a panel."
When a customer has an idea of what they want a piece of equipment to do, Ide leads the team that will turn that idea into reality. Sometimes that basic idea can be as simple as a drawing on a napkin. But Ide has a "yes we can" attitude. He will not only figure out how to make it work, he'll do it the most cost-effective way possible using the best components for the job. And he'll constantly think of ways to improve it.
"Engineering is an iterative process. Anybody who thinks they are going to get it right on the first try hasn't been at it for very long," Ide says. "You start with Good and take it to Great.”
Learn what Neil and our Assembly Solutions team can do for you in our Assembly Solutions Handbook here »
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