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Interview: Darrell Fairbanks

Darrell Fairbanks is servicemonteur en specialist op het gebied van niveaumeetinstrumenten op basis van radar.

Was u in uw vorige beroepsomgeving altijd werkzaam op het gebied van de meettechniek?
Ja Ik werk al 35 jaar in de service.


Hoe lang werkt u al bij VEGA?
Afgelopen oktober was dat 17 jaar.


What brought you to VEGA? 
Mary Kay Swadener [VEGA Americas Human Resources Manager]. She was in human resources at my previous employer and when she moved on she held on to my email address. When a couple of opportunities opened up at VEGA she reached out to me. I was ready to make a career move so I thought, “I’ll check that out.”

One opening was for nuclear field service and the other was for radar field service. Mary Kay ended up offering me both positions and I had one question, “Which job travels the most?” At the time the nuclear service role traveled about 90% and radar about 25%. I said, “Give me the radar.” I didn’t realize at the time that down the road, radar would have me traveling 90% of the time. 

Are you traveling 90% of the time now? 
No. I travel about half of the time and it’s mostly training. Except for special situations that require my attention, we [VEGA Field Service] try to get the newer guys out there to gain experience. You can’t learn everything you need to know in a classroom. Because so much is proprietary in nature, we can find the most qualified candidate for the job and it’s still going to take him a year or two to become competent in what we do. It’s just the nature of the business.  
What does a typical day in field service look like? 
The first thing I do is take a look at what rolled in overnight and needs to be addressed right away. Then I take a look at the schedule for the balance of the week; I see who we have for phone support, look at my pending tasks, and put it all together. There’s always plenty to do in Field Service. There’s no complacency in our department. 

You mentioned phone support. How many calls do you take per day? 
That’s a difficult number because we don’t log the quickies, the simple stuff like a forgotten password or a quick reminder about something. I would say I take around five more substantial calls per day. 
What do you like best about your job? 
It doesn’t matter how much experience you have or how long you’ve been here, you will learn every day. That’s the nature of the business. You’re going to learn something; you’re going to run into something new—it just happens. 

The applications are evolving along with the measurement technologies. We rolled out the VEGAPULS 69 a couple years ago and the VEGAPULS 64 last year; along with that came new possibilities in applications we couldn’t do before. There’s always something new happening. 

That variety must keep things interesting. 
Oh definitely. I am very fortunate and happy to come to work every morning because when I walk through the front door, it’s an adventure. It’s fun to do this job. I’m going to miss it when I can’t do it anymore. It’s a great job at a great company.
You conduct a lot of training seminars. What do you like most about those? 
I like interacting with people. That’s just how I am. I like to talk with people and get to know them. You’ll never find me hiding under a rock somewhere.

What do you most like showing end users about the VEGAPULS 64? 
I like training on a product I believe in. I can tell a user, “This is what this radar sensor is going to do; you should expect this to happen,” and it happens. 

I like explaining radar technology, too. I can look around and see body language change as I explain how a product works. That wide-eyed look on their face that says, “Wow! That’s incredible!” is fulfilling.  

What do users find most exciting about the VEGAPULS 64?
First off, the process connections. We have the smallest process connections in the industry. The VEGAPULS 64 has a ¾” connection that wasn’t offered before. Second, the beam angle gives the user options to mount the sensor more places. We can measure around obstructions that would have been a problem in the past.  
I like training on a product I believe in. I can tell a user, “This is what this radar sensor is going to do; you should expect this to happen,” and it happens. 
You said you like to come to work, but what do you like to do in your free time? 
I’m active with my church and other charitable organizations. My wife and I are very active in the community. When I get a little bit of extra time, I like to get a little fishing done. 

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