Today’s Industry Person of the Week is Douglas Borkosky, P.E., with Baker & Associates. Here’s what he had to share!
Q. How did you get started working in your field?
Doug: In junior high and high school, I knew I wanted to work with moving water, machines and living things. As I explored careers, I settled on Civil / Environmental Engineering. I pursued a Bachelor’s degree and then started working on a Ph.D. However, after two years, my graduate level funding was cut, so I joined the workforce as an Engineer Intern doing treatment plant design and collection system modeling. I loved designing treatment plants. After about 5 years as a design engineer, I took the position as a manufacturer’s representative with the opportunity to move my young family back to the area where I grew up (near other family). It was an unplanned jump from engineering to sales.
Q. What do you love most about your job? What are you most proud of?
Doug: I am blessed by the relationships I have with co-workers, customers and consultants. I really enjoy working on solutions to problems – biological process, pumping, controls – any challenge. Furthermore, I get to “teach” on a routine basis – from the basic of pump & system curves to the complexities of activated sludge processes. Although I never realized my goal of a Ph. D. and a professorship, I still get to interact as a teacher. I also learn continuously from water and wastewater professionals with whom I interact.
I am most proud of the way that my co-worker, Tony Lococo, and I have built a steady business of pump sales in the past six years. We have a true symbiosis; I bring the textbook and engineer perspective, and he brings the pump technician and practical side. Together, we’ve been able to improve each other and to offer excellent advice and service to consultants and end-users.
Q. What advice would you give to someone considering this line of work or new to the field?
Doug: Realize two realities when you enter the field of water and wastewater. First, there are roles for every skill and ability in this field. Secondly, lead with humility because the professionals in this field are by and large ready to share openly their knowledge and experiences IF you ask questions and listen.
Q. Can you talk about a project you recently worked on?
Doug: There have been many exciting, interesting and rewarding projects in the 16 years I’ve been a sales engineer. A recent success was a large stormwater pump station for a large institution of higher education that involved three 400 HP dry-pit submersible KSB pumps (each capable of 27,000 gpm of flow). I had the privilege of working on the project with the consultant from the very beginning, through bidding, fabrication, witness testing in Germany, and then commissioning. It was a personal milestone because after we hired him, Tony convinced me that we should sell pumps. I was open to the idea but not enthused. Our core business was process systems, not revolving equipment. When we went through our first training, I looked at the front of the KSB brochure and saw a picture of a man standing beside a submersible pump that was taller than him. I commented “That should be my goal – to sell a set of pumps which are taller than I am.” When I attended the pump testing as the witnessing Ohio professional engineer per spec, I got to stand next to one of the 400 HP behemoths and became “that guy”.
Q. Anything else you would like to add?
Doug: After a decade and a half of sales, I’ve found that service isn’t just associated with a truck and tools. It is an attitude/approach that should be applied when working with consultants, when visiting end users, and talking with co-workers. Lead with humility. I’m a big believer in servant leadership…even when you’re one of only four in the company.