AutomationDirect has a strong commitment to giving back to it's local community via a wide variety of programs. It's STEM outreach is a standout because in addition to helping the community, it also helps build future client base by getting young minds interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Join us for a few minutes as we speak with AutomationDirect about their STEM outreach efforts.
Mike: All right our next guest here on the program Ric folio with, Automationdirect.com, Ric good morning. Rick: Yeah, good morning Mike. Mike: Automationdirect.com tell us what your company does Rick: Well the name sort of says it all, have you ever seen on TV a video of a factory? And maybe bottles are going by whizzing down a conveyor line, or are getting filled and capped and labeled and packaged and all that automated factory stuff right. Mike: Yeah Rick: Well AutomationDirect sells all that automation, all that factory equipment, to the factory so they can do that. The difference is in the old days and still , to large extent today, the way people order that equipment is by going to a distributor. And they say how much do you want, well how much do you need they negotiate, and there is a four to six week delivery and on this day of the Internet it just doesn't cut it. Mike: mmm Rick: AutomationDirect is a factory supplier of all its equipment but, it's just like a little company may have heard of called Amazon. You go online, drop in your shopping cart, buy now, and have it in two days done. So it's AutomationDirect, factory automation direct to you via the web. Mike: So you're not the manufacturer of all the parts and pieces and everything that you see? Rick: No. Mike: But you're kind of can you say one-stop shop in a way? Whatever we need we can kind of go to AutomationDirect.com. Rick: Exactly Mike: I got ya, now you're the Senior Technical Marketer. So what does Rick do at the company? Rick: Well on any company- Mike: Other than come on business trip to the radio. Rick: Yeah on any company you gonna have your marketing guys that know how to get the word out. And you're gonna have your engineers know how to design a product. Well someone has to get those two people communicating; I'm actually an engineering background, it's my job to translate engineering for the marketing guys, and the marketing the engineering guys. I'm in between guy. Mike: I gotcha, I Gotcha, Rick: I’m the explainer Mike: Okay so you help these these factories and these people that are producing their widgets or whatever get everything they need for the automation, so they can- Rick: My day-to-day job is to produce content that explains what we have to our customers, to get them up and running quickly and they appreciate that. Mike: Which you could argue might be one of the most important jobs with the company Rick: It's a great way to market stuff, when you help someone understand how to get their job done. You don't have to sell them anything. Mike: Well something that's right up your alley that I know you guys are very involved in the STEM outreach program, especially Forsyth County, tell us about all about that I know you're proud of that. Rick: Ya, AutomationDirect is based right here in Cumming, it's about 250 employees roughly and we're very grateful to a community for accepting us and then taking us in and we like to give back in many, many ways. You know whether it be AgeWell Forsyth, Meals on Wheels, or the Scouting programs. But one of our big outreach opportunities, is the whole stem thing and in particular we're very heavy supporters of these extracurricular robotics, these competition or vice programs. The reason for that is it gets kids so engaged and learning and they don't even know it. I've seen it so many times over and over again where, a young student will be sitting in math or science or wise other things and say “oh why do I have to learn this stuff”. Well it's just like building a robot, that changes to oh I need to learn this stuff! You know and they get all excited and engaged and learning and the teachers come to me say Rick we've got to stop this, so why. “Well they won't go home, here before class, during class, after class they're so excited about learning”. You know and it's just really cool to watch, so um AutomationDirect just loves being a part of that kind of energy and getting these young kids excited about learning. Mike: So you really place a heavy emphasis on that , that program then. Rick: For a number of reasons one to give back to community of course, but if you've ever visited AutomationDirect to find out the core values are very cent around being gracious and professional, working together and making things happen and it turns out that these competition robotics programs that they have emphasized the same values. If you look at the way they're structured it's not go beat the snot out of your competitor; It's you know how can you work with your competitor so you can both achieve greatness and that's really what AutomationDirect is really about, so we do appreciate that. Mike: Well maybe I'm wrong but these guys that are building the robots and guys, women-men and women. That are you know the young one people today, they're the ones going to be running these factories and coming up with great ideas and coming up with the next widget I guess. And so and you know puts potential clients for you in the future. Rick: Exactly, I mean it's very self-serving if you think about it right. We're growing our future client base but more than that, it's interesting there's a study done a year or two ago I guess. And I mean I might not have the details exactly right but you get the gist of it. They wanted to know what dollar spent in Georgia, how they were impacting the economy of Georgia. So you looked at various things one of them was a athletics for example, in Georgia for every dollar we put into the athletic programs in the high schools you know the economic benefit to Georgia is 20 to 1 ratio, we get a nickel back. They did the exact same study for these after school curriculum extracurricular programs, like robotics, and you know what the answer came up exactly the same 20 to 1 but in the other direction. Of every dollar spent on these programs in Georgia. Georgia gets $20 back, who wouldn't invest in something like that. Mike: This real smart, now you've been doing it for a while. I think you guys been able to see kind of a tangible results? Rick: Yeah yeah but doing for a little over a decade now and the cool thing about that is, these programs span elementary school, middle school, high school, and even into college so now we're seeing since it's been 10 years. The kids that started in elementary school have been through the entire program they're now becoming active members of the community. We have kids are started doing elementary school robotics and now they've come back to the county and they're teaching future generations engineering in the schools for example. So it's been absolutely huge and of course if you read the papers you see all the stuff that's going on with-with in Forsyth County either. There's a new STEM Academy at Central Forsyth High School, they teach engineering there's a new high school going in opening up in 2018 it's focused entirely on career-tech type things. One of which is mechatronics, avionics, logistics all those things. All of this is the out of the true energy that has been created by these kinds of programs. Mike: You mentioned your background a little bit you know, kind of engineering type background of where were you one of those kids growing up that was into the robots and everything did you ever see yourself doing what you're doing today? Rick: I wish I had this stuff when I was a kid, oh my god, I'm so jealous of these guys. I mean it's amazing you see these little elementary school kids and middle school kids and of course high school kids learning about you know mechatronics and gear ratios and pneumatics and programming and where was this stuff when I was a kid, this is fantastic. Yeah, but you know did I take washing machines apart, sure. Mike: We're talking with Rick with Automationdirect.com, he's the senior technical marketer for the company and I love that we're having two companies here on the show, Datascan and now Automationdirect.com, very involved in the community and giving back. For AutomationDirect do you have a brick and mortar building where you you store all the things, I'm getting back to the business-side now. Where you store everything that people are ordering or do you order it and get it as its ordered, you know as you get as you get together and that would be where they keep everything in stock? It’s gotta be one big difference in us and Amazon. Where's Amazon it's all dropship, basically AutomationDirect no, every bit of it's right here incoming with an enormous warehouse just growing by leaps and bounds more and more automation being built into it. The latest addition we have is a large building right there and coming it's fully automated, I mean the robots can retrieve all the parts bring them to the person who packs them in the box, the box goes off, it's automatically wrap right onto the truck , and out it goes. And one of the problems we have sometimes have a customer order a part and change their mind. Call back what it’s already on the truck, sorry. That's because it's so fast and it's so efficient. Well yeah so we bring things in, stock them; a ridiculous in stock ratio at 99 percentile ratio. It's rare that you call AutomationDirect and something is not in stock, ready to ship same day. Mike: And the irony is you have the robots they're, helping ship the stuff out Rick: Exactly the guy in charge of the company teases the logistics guys saying hey these elementary school kids are building fancy robots you have come on, lets step up the game. Mike: Do you have people, the suits come in and get to see some of this by the way. Rick: They do it do, in fact we just had a whole bunch of students come in a couple weeks ago at the end of each season the students like combined and say “Thank You” AutomationDirect for everything we've done for them and just watching these kids and again it's not just about the robots right; The learn presentation skills, business management skills, financial management skill, how to manage all these funds they get. It's a business and travel, the marketing is they're running a small business with these robotics teams. And if these kids come back to present to AutomationDirect all the things they're doing it just blows your mind. But again like I said, we've been doing this for over ten years and the growth has been phenomenal. My son started my youngest son started the very first team but we're running 150 teams down Forsyth County. Mike: Wow. Rick: And we'll see last year, we had the world champion, world champion out of Forsyth County this year we had a team when the award that's above world champion is one above world champion that's at- Mike: Universe? Rick: Well now remember these things aren't just about building robots right - about building proper kids and so but the excellence award the Chairman's or depends what program you're in. But this is a award that is actually rated higher than winning the competition and that is that yeah you can build robots but you did it, in a gracious way, in a professional way, in a cooperative way, you have outreach into the community or getting other people excited about it you see the big picture. Yeah, so it's really cool. Mike: That's good stuff, a couple same questions I asked earlier, I assume your clients anywhere in the world. Rick: Anybody that can click a mouse on a website, although AutomationDirect is primarily focused on North America and Canada. Mike: Okay, okay Rick: Much like Davis was. Mike: Same question as well that I asked, how do you find a new clients or do they just find you? Rick: well since- Mike: Well you're the marketing guy so I guess you are getting out there to try to find his client. Mike: We're an internet-based company so um, a lot of its internet-based of, course my job is I do a lot of YouTube content, I post videos that get customers excited. Let’s face it, where do you go today when you learn something go to? You type in YouTube, I want to know how to make a motor go. Well they see an AutomationDirect video on how to do it. Well who's product are they going to go buy? Well the one they just learned how to use right. Mike: Right Rick: Well we do all the traditional marketing also, so just get the word out the best we can. Mike: As the world continues to get more and more automated obviously a lot of room for growth, where do you see Automationdirect.com in five years, ten years down the road. Rick: The growth trajectory of this company is just phenomenal, the balance are unlimited. People ask us often what do you do there well we built buildings listen we've put up three new buildings in the last couple of years and we have two more on the books already so it's just trying to handle the growth, been phenomenal. Mike: You mentioned the space and coming do you have other brick and mortars throughout or just the main place right here Rick: So it’s just right down here in downtown Cumming, right behind the Hobby Lobby. People probably have driven by the building and not known what it was. It’s got an enormous American flag flying above it. Although because of the growth we’re running out of space we are looking at building a warehouse and North Forsyth and we also have several properties we're renting down in here off of place, down here in McFarland someplace. Mike: So we might be Neighbors? Rick: We might be neighbors, very cool! Mike: Rick for those that would like to find out more, you know didn't maybe did not know you know that you guys were out there and now wants to find out more, I'm going to ask you an obvious question where can I find out more about automationdirect.com? Rick: Gee I wonder, certainly go straight the Automationdirect.com website. If you wanna know more about getting involved in some of the STEM programs around the country of the county. Drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org Mike: Could you be happy to talk about the automation process and everything that you guys supply as well as the wonderful STEM program you guys been a big part, of the big reason for the success in your area. Well thank you for coming by and sharing all everything about AutomationDirect.com Rick: Thanks for having us Mike: Rick Folio with AutomationDirect.com here on the Program. Before we say our goodbyes want to remind you that we are broadcasting from the Digital Ignition building. Digital Ignition is the ultimate place for entrepreneurs to work, innovate, learn, establish and grow their companies you could be the next Datascan or automationdirect.com. Nestled within a 45 thousand square foot building is an open floor plan with co-working office space dedicated desks. English (auto-generated) Videolytics