“A Fresh Eyes Perspective” – Lisa Oxman, President, Software for Hardware, LLC
Last month we launched our blog, “Doorway to Growth”, with Cheryl Orsi sharing her observations from a career working in this industry. Thank you for all the positive responses to our blog launch.
So, with that encouragement, I’d like to share my industry experience from a completely different perspective. Many of you, like Cheryl, have spent your career in the door industry. I have not. I’m a newbie to the door, frame and hardware business. I stepped into the industry with “fresh eyes”.
I joined Software for Hardware roughly 18 months ago following a career in large corporate Sales and Customer Service. Without a doubt, my initial reaction to the door industry was surprise at the sheer overwhelming complexity. Having spent a career in the Fortune 500 world, I thought how complicated could doors be? OMG! I take solace in a quote by Tom Peters, “If you’re not confused you are not paying attention.” Let me tell you, I paid attention and spent a lot of time confused! Everything from the business processes to the endless variations of door and frame configurations with the myriad of hardware sets, requirements, codes, etc. etc. My husband always says you never realize how complex something is until you begin to learn about it.
The learning process leads to my second, fresh eyes, observation. If not for the unbelievably kind customers and colleagues that helped tutor and educate me I would still be hopelessly confused. People not just willing to share their knowledge and experience but actually eager to do so. I’ve been the newbie in industries where such a collegial attitude simply did not exist. “It’s not my job to teach you our industry,” is a phrase I’ve heard before but never here. My experience, across the board, has been refreshingly positive. If you’ve never worked in other industries, let me tell you to not take the collegial atmosphere of ours for granted. To everyone that suffered through my dumb questions and quizzical stares, a sincere thank you.
Another difference I’ve observed is the family feel of this industry. Certainly, in the genetic sense as so many distributors are family operated and often for generations. But I’m also referring to a familial, personal, sense of community across the industry. We’re a tight knit industry, where everyone seems to know everyone. Relationships rule the day and people worry about industry trends and issues on a personal level. Coming from the corporate world, industry issues rarely take on any personal meaning to the working class. Not so here. People are sincerely concerned with industry issues like consolidation, attracting young professionals, etc. Nice to work in a community where people truly care. Again, don’t take that for granted.
To be fair, some of my “fresh eyes” observations are less positive. The biggest being, my realization that our industry trails the business world in adopting technology to drive productivity. Everyday I have the privilege of talking to many distributors who work incredibly hard and are prepared to work even harder when productivity tools exist that could streamline and reduce their workload. But therein lies my mission and maybe my contribution to this industry. While I still have much to learn, I do know that by continually improving our software products we can help distributors improve their businesses.
Lisa Oxman, President, Software for Hardware, is based in Atlanta, GA. Lisa leads the daily operations as well as customer support and sales. You can reach Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org.