Candor and Goodwill - foundational to thriving business relationships

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Bruce Balthaser is the National Sales and Distribution Manager for the Engineered Materials Group at Parker Hannifin. He manages a team of five sales managers and 27 field sales specialists spanning North America. He is responsible for stewarding and growing Parker’s US network of value-add distribution partners: companies entrusted with the Parker brand.



Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Bruce Balthaser talks about mergers and acquisitions: surviving and thriving after an acquisition by a fierce rival
  • How Bruce went toe-to-toe with Parker distributors in his early career
  • The value of distribution in the seal industry
  • How to get the most attention from Parker for your project
  • Bruce reflects on the relationship between Parker and Darcoid
  • The importance of celebrating success at every milestone
  • Why strengthening distribution during extensive business consolidation is crucial 
  • The “Supply Chain Armageddon:” the vital consideration before rolling out price increases
  • Bruce details Parker’s investment in talent development
  • Hiring tips: how to get noticed by the hiring manager
  • Words to live by: the power of candor and goodwill

In this episode…

How can distributor agreements continue to run smoothly after an acquisition? What can your company do against supply chain scarcity, allocations, and lack of resource availability?

Bruce Balthaser understands the hustle and grind of the seal business. Bruce has learned to navigate the waters of supply chain disruptions and has successfully managed acquisition transitions. He knows the power behind staying true to your beliefs and uses candor and goodwill to ensure relationships thrive.

In this episode of Makers of Our Future, Bill Sharratt sits down with Bruce Balthaser, National Sales and Distribution Manager for the Engineered Materials Group at Parker Hannifin, to discuss cultivating relationships. Bruce talks about the heavy role of distribution in the seal industry, why a strong distribution model is crucial for businesses, and how a little sincerity can go a long way.


Resources mentioned in this episode:


Sponsor for this episode:

This show is brought to you by Darcoid

The seal industry is changing and not always for the better. It's consolidating, knowledge is retiring out faster than it's being replaced, and design engineers specifying seals can struggle to get the support they need.

Darcoid is doing something about that.  

We're building this podcast as a searchable store of wisdom, so you, our audience, can continue to stand on the shoulders of giants.    

Learn more at


Episode Transcript:

Intro  0:03  
Behind every great product is a great seal. Join us at the crossroads of preeminence, product design, engineering, seal mastery, and supply chain excellence, and to learn from the makers of our future.

Bill Sharratt  0:24  
Hello, and welcome again to Makers of Our Future. I'm excited you're joining us today to hear from the people behind the products that are changing the world and from leaders in the seal industry that it's making all that possible. My guest today is definitely a leader in the steel industry. I'm very excited to have him with us. First, some business. This podcast is brought to you as usual by Darcoid. We decided to make this show as a searchable store of knowledge, something you can count on when you're specifying your next seal. My name is Bill Sharratt. I'm Senior Vice President of Business Development at Darcoid, I'm your host for today. My guest squirming in the spotlight is Mr. Bruce Balthasar. Bruce is a big guy in the steel industry has been with Parker, a lot of his career. He is now the I'm checking my notes, national sales and distribution manager Bruce, is that correct? Yes. And started off with his education at the University of Toledo where he got his master's, and MBA. Is that right, Bruce? Yeah, good. So Bruce, welcome to the show. I'm thrilled to have you, Bill. Always a pleasure to be with you. Excellent. Excellent. I first question. I hope it's not too difficult for you. I had Jeff Davis on the show a few weeks ago, he's with Camelback. And we discovered a shared name and discovered that we must be cousins. Balthaser, are we related? Can we be related to where's that name come from?

Bruce Balthaser  2:05  
Well, I everything that I had been told was that it's got some kind of Germanic basis. So I think probably one of the, one of the tribes from from Western Europe and German and specific hopefully came from good, you know, good Western European stock.

Bill Sharratt  2:21  
Good. Good German stock. Excellent. Always good to know if you've done one of those DNA tests yet. I've kind of avoided it.

Bruce Balthaser  2:27  
We did. In fact, we did. Our family did kind of as a Christmas activity just a few months ago, and our girls had a blast with we had I'm actually adopted and so nobody ever really knew what the what the genealogy was. sought to find out but the girls are of an age now where they were curious. And so I kind of broke down and we did it. And much to my surprise, at least according to the 23andme crowd, I am 98 point something Irish, so Oh, so go figure

Bill Sharratt  3:03  
Top of the morning to you. Excellent. Exactly. My sister did it. And we found out we had a lot of Viking in our history. It was pretty freaky. I was not expecting to see that. Yeah, so also, common paths are Nanda Kishore Patel here at Darcoid. We did a webcast recently. He graduated from University of Toledo about the same time where you roomies by chance.

Bruce Balthaser  3:26  
We were roommates. And I suspect that Nan was taking probably more advanced classes than I was. I aspired to get into the classes that Nan was probably acing. No, I'm a proud to Toledo rocket and Non an I always kind of given odd to each other when we see each other.

Bill Sharratt  3:47  
Go rockets. Go rockets. Excellent. So names. Bruce, your big name within the seal industry. Definitely within POC is engineered materials group. How'd you get here? What's your what's your career path? I see those federal mogul in the background. Yes.

Bruce Balthaser  4:08  
It really was. I first got into the seal business in 1988. And I was a I was a foreman in a metal stamping section of an oil seal factory. And

Bill Sharratt  4:20  
I think that's a that's a noisy part of a factory. Right.

Bruce Balthaser  4:23  
But yeah, I think I lost about 30% of my time. But I we used to make oil battlefields and I oversaw a team of 21 United student workers that worked on second shift, and we would on 100 150 and 200 ton presses, we bang out the metal shells that would become the oldies, those seals. And it was great training, great experience. And I did well enough that I went from being on second shift to getting promoted to third shift although at the time I don't know that I could Under the promotion?

Bill Sharratt  5:03  
Well brave of you to take the chip for sure. And the noise bloody hell that that's a lot of noise on those steps. Yeah,

Bruce Balthaser  5:09  
it was, it really was incredible you it's amazing how the human body adapts, I actually began to, I think required ability to read lips. And to this day, if I'm in a meeting, I always focus on on, you know, what's what the person is saying. Because it just helps it helps Listen, helps the hearing. You know, after, after a while, I basically was a federal mogul about 10 years, and I got a phone call from a guy named David can answer who was kind of a leader within the winds precision organization, which was based on Lebanon, Tennessee, and David opportunity. And it's just interesting that, that these moments kind of come in your life. And it's just a confluence of events, Melissa, and I just, she just had our first daughter, Allie. And she decided that she wanted to be home with Ali and I could sure use some extra dollars to make up for the loss of income that that decision represented. And serendipitously, Dave can answer your call. And that started a sort of a business relationship with me and winds and started a personal relationship with Dave can answer that I keep to this day, he's, he's been a mentor, long standing seal verse have had great success with winds, Caterpillar amongst other customers. But the wins acquisition by Parker was really what brought me to Parker. And I think that was one of the kind of assemble that's at least my professional career was I got a phone call one July morning, and it was our chief operating officer. And he said, we just sold the business to Parker Hannifin. And I was shot because Parker was my rival. It wasn't that they were also a competitor, they were the rival. It was like the, I always tell people, it's like the Vikings bought the Packers, or the bears bought the lions, it was, all of a sudden you think my gosh, I'm going to be one of them. And in at the time, you don't know. When I was a federal mobile, we have made acquisitions. And you know, sometimes the acquisitions break in your favor, and sometimes they don't. But looking back now, that's it's been almost 22 years. And for me, it was it was one of the best things that ever happened.

Bill Sharratt  7:25  
So I mean, being acquired by a fierce rival, do you have to? How would you approach that with humility? Were you pissed off? I mean, that that's gonna be a tricky transition.

Bruce Balthaser  7:39  
You know, I think the interesting thing for me was was that the company that I came from, we had no formal relationships with distributors. But our philosophy and philosophy by our chief executive was that we sell on a direct basis. And so we had no, just just kind of no context where the distributors fit except this, we competed against Parker, and its distributors. And I competed with Parker and some of their very best distributors. And what was interesting was, a lot of times we would have a direct relationship with a customer, we would have a might have even a good as or better than material, even a better than price. And I was still leaves business to Parker, it is distributors, my sales team would lose to Parker it is distributed. And what was interesting was, was that it was kind of the first glimpse into what our distributor network represented to our customers. And, and you know, people talk about value, and that's such a vague term. But it's you know, very, very well, especially with Darcoid is that there's no vagary in that valley. It is very specific, it is very meaningful to the customers. And so, you know, from the early days, moving over from winds and being part of the, I guess, the Concord It was either adapt or LEAP. And I thought, you know, for the first time, it'd be really great to have those distributors on my side, instead of having to try to do battle with them all the time. That started, I saw I had a kind of a running start up for an appreciation for our distributor base. And that started really what's been a 20 plus year relationship with our distributors, and whatever I thought of them. When things got started, I think so much more because they have they have continued to grow. They continue to develop continue to evolve in the types of things that our distributors do right now, Eric COVID. Included is it's tremendous and we see it every day. With the feedback we get from our customers from a growth we see through distance. fusion.

Bill Sharratt  10:00  
Fantastic. Well, and the show, thank you for coming, everyone. Turn off the lights. So, tell me how you met. You've got distribution channel, right? And you've also have I do have direct management of the packer sales organization, the team, right? Yeah, I do, how many? How many TSM 's are in the field reporting up to you.

Bruce Balthaser  10:30  
So I've got, I've got five sales managers. And in total, we've got about 27 field salespeople that are represented in those teams. And they go from Southern California, up to New England, and just about every place in between. And what's interesting is that one of the dynamics in our business is that we, you know, we have different channels that will work through we will work through distribution, I would say very effectively. And we will also work with customers on a direct basis. And this is nothing that's preordained or pre sanctioned, it just kind of evolves. And usually it's customer driven, is the hands of the customer. It's the fit. It's the proximity, it's the technology offering by the distributors. And so our salespeople, in addition to knowing about a number of different kinds of seal capabilities, and seal technologies, also have to be able to work just as effectively through the distribution channel as they do on a direct basis.

Bill Sharratt  11:34  
Yeah, yeah. So, so I'm a customer, I, I'm impressed with the amount I'm spending on seals, and it's logical for me to approach Parker directly. What's a good mix is I'm assuming it will be customer has very, very large volume on a limited number of items where the plant can set it and forget it and keep it running and maintain quality. Versus I have hundreds of skews with varying demand. I mean, where's the sweet spot for someone to expect it to establish a direct relationship with

Bruce Balthaser  12:13  
I think, I think he gave a really good overview you know, when you get into a situation where you've got kind of a lights out manufacturing setting where hey, we're gonna produce you know, a very small number of parts for this customer, it's going to be an extremely high volumes. As you know, the seal business lends itself to, you know, crazy high numbers, and we make literally, Parker Hannifin makes billions of seals every year. And so we're you've got the the complexity of more and more part numbers, where you've got the complexity of unforeseen demand or spikes in demand and forecasting, where you have the need for value added services such as part marking or kitting, or working with a been replenishment system or your frequency system. All of those elements that give that give the customer an advantage in their marketplace, really line up well, for our distributors. And our distributors are, they're very energetic and very entrepreneurial. And in they see those opportunities, and they can really tailor things to those customers. If it's going to be a situation where you just got again, a handful a part numbers, and the volumes are very high, we can set up a predictable, predictable production schedule, release schedule shift schedule, that we can do pretty well on a direct basis as well.

Bill Sharratt  13:43  
Yeah, good. So that's, that's a good description of the spread. We talked about Parker as if it's a large monolithic slab with a phone number in Cleveland. What does Parker mean? What as an organization, it's huge, it's multibillion dollar fortune 500 How's it how's it grouped? How's it? How does it get to market?

Bruce Balthaser  14:09  
Parker is the world leader in motion and control. So everything that is everything that moves, we're going to touch on one one facet or another Parker's 100 plus year old company. And in some respects, we are a very contemporary company, leading edge technology, new materials, new designs, new solutions. On the other hand, were still a company we were that Arthur Parker founded in 98. And it was you know, trustful relationships based on Fair Dealing. And and you know, that the Arthur Parker story is an amazing story. It's a story of perseverance. And you look at at his at how Parker got started, and the success and just as importantly, maybe even more, so, the failures, the truck with all of his inventory goes off there. Roden goes halfway down the end, but Arthur Parker sadly passes away at what I now consider a pretty young age of 60 years old. And in his family had to make very difficult decisions. So, you know, the the business, the core of Parker, I think remains the same. And that is that we make key products in mission critical applications where you can't have a failure, if you if the, if the automation actuator fails, if the fluid connector fails, if the seal seal fails, the system doesn't function as it should be. So all of our all of our applications are almost by their nature very consequential. So technology helps to drive that we don't create technology in a vacuum, we kind of grab on to our customers and our customers more often than not lead us to technology, it's a little bit like when if you've ever been taught in football, if you see a pulling guard, just grab onto the back of his shirt tail, because he's going to take you to the ball. And our customers are the same way they they will take us to the emerging needs of the market. And that'll bring about for our group, that'll bring about seals that can withstand greater pressure. So bring about seals that can withstand greater temperatures, more difficult environments and climates. And that's really where the where the technology starts. So well, our group is one of five groups within Parker. And and, you know, Parker, as you said, is we're a fortune 250 company. So we're very, very large company. But we still have first name basis with with our leaders and our executives, if you go sit in that, in that corporate headquarters in Cleveland, if you sit down in the lunchroom, you may sit next to our chief financial officer, you may sit next to our our CEO, Tom Williams, it's still it's still a very, I think it's a small company that's gotten bigger.

Bill Sharratt  16:59  
Okay. So how does how does in that environment of innovation and adapting and meeting market needs? How does one person's market need get addressed ahead of the other? I mean, what's required to get Parker's voice to get the right people in the room? To engage on on a new innovation project? For example, something that's not in the capital of yet.

Bruce Balthaser  17:30  
Good for you? That's, that's a good question. And I will tell you that that is that is one of the skills that our field salespeople have, we will say, and it may sound like we're exaggerating, for effect, that the internal sale is were difficult in the external sales. That's not exaggerating for effect. Our salespeople, when they discover an opportunity, whether it be on a direct basis, whether it be in step with one of our distributors, we have finite resources, nobody, nobody's got all the resources in the world. So we have salespeople all over the country, all over the world who are bringing opportunities to our divisions and saying, Can you make this and they can all be pretty compelling. But what we will do is we will, we will vet those opportunities thoroughly, before we begin to allocate who's going to who's going to spend time on what, you know, the opportunity a caught a cost associated with spending time on the wrong projects, is, you know, can really be significant. And we we try and again, as I said earlier, you know, failures, you know, failure can be our friend if we learn from it. And so we will, we will pursue opportunities, and and we'll lose out we'll fail, we won't win the business. But there's a lot of times where we will and it really falls back to that salesperson to work with an operating division and make that compelling case about why we should work on this, what the commercial advantages are, and how we can be differentiated in the workplace with with the solution that we're that we're promoting. Now.

Bill Sharratt  19:02  
Yeah, there's a lot to unpack there, Bruce A, and I have lived it. As you know, at one of the reasons I'm excited about this interview today, I get to interview you a few years ago, you were interviewing me for a role in the Parker sales organization. And, and I certainly learned that the importance of packaging and opportunity, making sure it hit all the right, hot points to get the manufacturing division, the center of excellence on that technology engaged. And now in distribution, it's something that we use the same methodology and sometimes we really annoy our customers by asking so many questions and making to make sure that it's a real project for them. They got a budget, they're going to they've got the right people in the room making the decisions. It slows things down. Sometimes we have to pump the brakes, but that really will Once we get that package, then we can really run with it. That's that's the key. That's absolutely right. Good.

Bruce Balthaser  20:06  
Well, and I would say to that with, you know, in your case, when you became a part of Parker, that was a great day. And you You did you won't say this because of your nature, but you are terrific with us. And we were certainly sorry to see you late. But it probably bears noting that we've had a long history of Parker people joining our distributors, and vice versa. And so that kind of cross pollenization, I don't have to ever call you and explain our mindset or our approach on something you already know it. And we have we have been enriched by our salespeople joining our distributors and our distributor sellers coming and joining us. And we never look at it as a loss alleges, it's just a you know, a different version of the family, it's a different, it's playing a different position, but on the same side of the ball.

Bill Sharratt  21:03  
So segue to to meet let's talk about me. So I joined Darcoid, I kind of had the pick up opportunities, I got to say, and I joined Darcoid, because I really liked how the business was run. Along solid business, good practice lines, I liked the ethics. And I was blown away by the strength of the relationship with our senior people. And with Parker, senior people. And I know that takes years to develop. Part of what you do, Bruce every day, is maintain and grow those relationships with principals and key people at key distribution, talk to relationships a

Bruce Balthaser  21:45  
bit. Well, we've got the benefit of having some some long standing ties in the way I've always looked at it is that the relationship that Parker enjoys with with its distributors with distributors like directly that existed before I got here, it is going to exist after I'm gone. And so we we talk about the idea of being the custodian of that relationship. And on my watch, let's make it better. And let's extend it let's, let's let's do the obvious things like like grow the business from x to y. But let's also let's also watch and see how the business develops and how that the the kind of the interconnection matures. Darcoid has been a distributor of Parker since 1954. That's a 68 year relationship. And so again, it's humbling to be able to be put in charge of maintaining and nurturing and growing that relationship. And those things all sound very, very soft and kind of fuzzy. But the truth of the matter is, is that we align ourselves with really good business people who run really good businesses. And we there's there's mutual benefit. And so, when I look at, you know, when I look at Bob Lowe back in, and now Alex is coming online, Becky Lobeck, a real real key voice in that company. We had the good fortune of not only having really good business people with whom we work and deal. We just like him. I always thought that I always thought Bob Lobeck was the older brother I could never find. And I you know, he's, I trust him. I admire him. I try to emulate some of the things that Bob does, because I see how I see how he affects people. And so

Bill Sharratt  23:36  
I hang on, hang on, hang on, hang on, hang up. Timeout. Bob has this endearing habit, some would say annoying, but mostly endearing, of interpreting business concepts using songs D I haven't seen you burst out into it's a song during a conference?

Bruce Balthaser  23:56  
Well, it's interesting because I happen to recall very clearly, when Bob saying to a large group of people, Tom Petty saw don't back down or I won't back down. And later when my younger daughter went to the University of Florida where they play that at the end of every third quarter, I realized the full power of it. I don't think I've got quite the voice that Bob has. But I'll tell you, I'll tell you one quick story. And I go back to shortly after Bob had made the purchase of Dirk. We had an anniversary and I want to say it was a 55th or maybe even the 50th and we met in a in a steakhouse in in San Francisco. And we presented Bob with a 50 anniversary plaque. There was some exchange of of comments and and and recall of how the business grew up and how we came to where we are today. And I remember that you know I had like 50 things to do that week. And, and I had all these things running through my mind about after I get done dirt crude, I gotta catch a plane to here and I want to go there and so forth. And when I presented Bob with the plaque, I hope you didn't mind me saying this. He, he's not here. He's he, he teared up, he got very emotional. And I think he, he also, I think, had a sense of the moment. And he had a sense of the history, and the people that had built what he was carrying on with now. And I think he also, I think he had like a, like a week and a glimmer of what was ahead. And he got, he got very emotional about that at the time. And I it that taught me enormously I know, that was done so early on. For me, I never wanted to underestimate the power of one of those milestones, I never wanted to fail to see that that longevity, that relationship, that that's at people's core. And, and so when I say that I learned things from Bob, that's just an example. Because every every event similar to that, that I attend, whether it's a 20th anniversary, or 50th, or, or whether somebody is retiring, or there's a change of ownership. It's worth pausing. And it's worth having a sense of the moment, because we talked about standing on people's shoulders, and we talk about the people who came before us, they created this the reason that we have these jobs, and the reason that we can extend the reach of Darcoid, your extend the reach of Parker is because of some of the things that that those folks done. And so Bob teaches me at every every turn, but he hasn't been able to teach me is you know how to get the seven iron a stick on the Creed from 180 yards, I haven't figured that out yet.

Bill Sharratt  26:56  
Relationships is everything. And I'm delighted to hear it. We're in a period of transition where we're always in a period of churn and transition. From the Arthur Parker grew his business by acquisition, the distribution network, it's often these are family businesses, and they either pass to the next generation, which can be a good thing, or it can be a difficult thing. Or they are sold, and the proprietor takes the cash and retires. Or they grow by acquiring their, their their neighbors. How do you manage that when you have that kind of a churn in a key part of a key part of pockets touch with customers? what's your what's your approach?

Bruce Balthaser  27:53  
Yeah, from a technical standpoint are all of our distributor agreements are set up that if a change of ownership 25% or greater takes place, the agreement is terminated. So if that, if that's the case, we've we kind of parted ways, and sometimes we part ways, just for moments, because what it's really done? Well, a distributor will say, I'm gonna sell my business, I'm looking for a suitor for my business. And I tell you that that's been going on with increasing frequency and increasing significance in the last 10 years. And it's a very big thing right now. So you know, we want the people who represent Parker, who are Parker extreme, we want them to stay in the family. And so for us, our desire would be for one Parker distributor to buy another. And that doesn't always happen. But it happens most of the time. And so in cases like that, you know, we do see some of our emerging distributors go from being a distributor in a particular part of the state to being a statewide or even a regional distributor. And so that has been something where, you know, again, we have a good dialogue back and forth with the distributors prior to the sale taking place. And, you know, I the role I played, which is, I think, not terribly significant. But if I know of a distributor who wants to sell their business, I also know from numerous conversations, that there's this handful of distributors over here who are very eager to buy the business. And maybe it's because it's in a part of the country, maybe it's because it's heavily oriented around a certain market. I'll make those introductions. And then I get out of the way. I don't I don't participate in the process of the to kick the door open and turn on the lights, pull out a chair and make sure everybody knows who everybody is, and then get out of the way. And we've seen probably in the last three years, we've seen half a dozen acquisitions, put in a different context. If you go back to 2000 very beginning of the 2000s 2000 2002 Parker seal, as we were called that had about 100 distributors here in North America. Today, we have 58. And that number continues to consolidate as the industry consolidates. And, you know, part of that part of that reduction was there were there were some distributors that really weren't in the sealed list, we want people who are committed to being in the seal business. And so if the seal businesses and oh, by the way thing, that we probably, we probably don't have a long relationship there. But more often than not, you know, we see these larger distributors kind of emerging and making these acquisitions. And it's great for Parker. And I think it's good for the market, because it extends, it takes companies who are really good at what they do, and that the market has rewarded for being really good at what they do. And it extends their reach. And so now they, they bring the, you know, the abilities, the capabilities, and the skill set that made them successful, one part of the country, they bring

Bill Sharratt  30:59  
it into another. So no, a parent can't compare his children. But with that consolidation with that shrinking base, individually growing companies, but that lack consolidation amongst distribution? Are you seeing a leveling of the the types of service, the market focus? Are they becoming more specialized or more generalized as this consolidation happens?

Bruce Balthaser  31:32  
I think everybody knows their sweet spot. And I think they look at some markets, and they think this is I understand this market. You know, there have been, there been some acquisitions in the oil and gas market here in the last few years. And that's a different market. And so if you understand those differences, then you can move into it. I think there's still some regional differences in the country, I think, generally, our distributors would prefer to make an acquisition of someone who is, you know, near them, or shares a state line with them. But we see somewhere, you know, where they, you know, they go significantly further away. You reference the second generation, or now what we're seeing is the third generation. Yeah, yeah. To me, it's really fascinating. Because if you look at the Parker distributors, at least in the engineering materials side, we have gotten distributors, who's you know, who started the business? You know, maybe back in the, in the 60s, or the 70s. And the son of a daughter moved into a leadership role 25 years ago. And now, it's fascinating. Now you starting to see some of these Gen threes. And as we refer to them, and the Gen threes, they're gonna, they're gonna leave their mark. They're very, they're very dynamic. They're very good business people. Everybody thinks, you know, there's this perception that, you know, one of the generations is going to squander this. I'm not seeing that I'm not seeing anybody squander anything I'm seeing, particularly in the Gen threes, where they want to accelerate the growth and where they want to make bigger acquisitions, more frequent acquisitions, take on additional product lines, enhance their capabilities. And so I think that bodes I think it goes pretty well, for the distributor. And for Parker,

Bill Sharratt  33:25  
it's an exciting time to be in business, that's for sure. No doubt about it. Talking about exciting times to be in business. Most of the interactions we've had with you formally, Bruce recently, I'd like to lodge a formal complaint, you've been doing nothing but giving us doom and gloom, bad news. The supply chain difficulties that we've been having since COVID, I mean, obviously Parker global organization, global supply chain for elastomers, Nautilus components, labor issues, staffing, transport, my goodness. But I tell you, the one thing that's I'll ask you how it's been for you, but I my observation that reflects on the character of you and the organization is you speak with integrity and honesty. And you call it how it's you see it. And so we know when these announcements come through that they're well thought out and well considered so I thank you for that. But how's it been for you? Because you've been on the sharp end have just given out some nasty news a lot. How's that gone for you?

Bruce Balthaser  34:43  
Well, it's been it's been difficult. i It's interesting is that in some respects, given the number of years I've been in the industry, I'm thankful for having the experiences of having gone through 2002 where there was a downturn, gone through 2008 where it's just like The night you know, whether you're watching The Poseidon Adventure, everybody's drinking and dancing and having a blast, and you're the boats thinking. And so those experiences, I think make it Quicker, quicker and bigger and stronger. And but but there's no denying there was no nobody got inoculated, nobody was immune, the supply chain issues were ripe for the picking, you know, we look at how things have globalized, and in the 20 years that preceded us here, and, you know, a lot of lot of that a lot of that mechanism counts on every, you know, all of the trains being on time. And if the trains aren't on time, then it's, it can really cause a great deal of pain. And I think, you know, the other dynamics with in terms of material issues that we've seen, scarcity, allocations, unavailability of materials, and what's interesting is, you know, customers do adapt, and and where previously to to qualify and validate a new material would take an extended period of time, and and would you think you're never going to get it done? You know, customers are adapting to that. And they're moving and moving much, much more quickly. And there'll be something on the other side of all this. And I would, I would like to say that although you and I are doing this in a in a zoom format, I don't think that this is the end of the in person relationships and the in person calls, I think there's a, I still think there's a real value to that. And in some cases, you know, just just the need for the human interaction. But we've had to give really difficult news. And the only thing I would say, is that internally, when we announce that we're giving a price increase, and we've got a material allocation problem, where we've got extended lead to all the things that that you know, we don't want to say and nobody wants to hear. What precedes that announcement is is some really strong internal debate and arguing, arguing and fussing and carrying on, because we want to challenge ourselves that less than ever be premature with these things, because this affects people's business. And so there's there's an awful lot of scrimmaging within Parker, before we come out with something. And once we do come out with something, we stand as one because we have to, we're all on the same team. But it's nice, gosh, it's been very, very difficult. And I think about some of the you know, you had faith Rosca on on this program recently. And I think about the ones that are seeing this real early in their career, and you think I tell you what, if they can, if they can navigate this, I think faith will. But if they can navigate this, think how good they're going to be and think about what what things that they're going to be able to address and they're gonna say, Oh, my goodness, you this has been hacked back in 22. What a what a mess. It was that

Bill Sharratt  38:07  
they're gonna be like grandpa talking about the depression. Everyone's gonna be saying, yeah, yeah, yeah, I heard it was bad. Well, that's

Bruce Balthaser  38:15  
exactly right. I was talking, I was talking to another distributor who's whose family member said, when we were going through the 2008 downturn, he said, This is nothing compared to 1981. And, and so, and that was a very sober real life assessment. And so I think that, you know, these things in the moment, they're really, really difficult. But again, go back to that custodial relationship. Parker is going to be in business with Darcoid, five years from now. And Parker is going to be in business with our other distributors. And Parker was in business with those distributors 25 years ago, 50 years ago. So you just got to, you got to guide the ship. While it's while it's on your watch. And I think our leaders have have done so very thoughtfully in a very measured way. The market has just been, it's been I know, it's an overused phrase, but it's been unprecedented.

Bill Sharratt  39:10  
And busted was trying really hard.

Bruce Balthaser  39:12  
Don't use it don't know us unprecedented and don't use abundance of caution.

Bill Sharratt  39:20  
Yeah, it's staggering, absolutely staggering. You mentioned faith. Let's talk real quick about how you prime the pump. One of the reasons we're doing this podcast, I lost my main mentor in the business last year. Peter Berfield, and it been weighing on me. When he left, he took so much knowledge with him that you couldn't put down you can memorialize. So, in these conversations, hopefully we try to memorialize some stuff, that that can be useful going forward. We find it, you know, people are retiring out, people are taking all kinds of knowledge with them. And it's really hard to replace it at the front end. But Parker has a real good process, certainly for the technical sales team, because it takes it takes time to learn rubber and seal, right? Talk to that technical sales development program.

Bruce Balthaser  40:27  
Yeah, happy to that. That's a I think that's one of the one of the core strengths, maybe a best practice that we've developed through the years. It really it starts with a with an understanding that we've always got to have that talent flow coming up the organization. And when we say talent, that's, that's not to touch on this characterize these folks. There's, you want to have people who understand seals, and you want to have people that understand the markets that we serve. But you also want to have people that get the culture and get the Parker culture we have, you know, as we talked about with faith, she spent time in your organization, because we want, we want her to understand why our distributors are so good at what they do, and why they can be so indispensable and growing the business. So you want to you want to get product knowledge, but you also want to get cultural knowledge. And I think where we've been successful with with our PSAs are where we get, you know, the right, the right field salesperson. And usually, a lot of times they're engineers, who at one point maybe in their junior their sophomore year in college, realize, Oh, my goodness, I don't want to be confined to a desk, I want to be able to get out and have interaction. And it's interesting, because there's no, there's, there's no, there's no one template, we have extroverts and introverts, we have techies, and we have relationship, people. But the idea is, is you find you find good smart people who are motivated, and who want to learn. First thing we tell them when we sent them all the training is, we already know you're smart, we already know that you're accomplished, we already know you can do all of this stuff. Now I want to see if you can humble yourself and go make relationships and go learn go be that sponge and draw in everything you can learn. So that when you're out there in the field, and you're presented with a challenge or opportunity with a customer, that you know how to react. And so it's it's really interesting, we will I think there's probably, let's say plus or minus 30 universities around the country where where we actively recruit. And we will send people to introduce graduating seniors to the idea of Parker, and then we'll talk about field sales. And then if we if there seems to be a good connection there, we will put them through really the first of a series of filters and interviews. And by the time we get down to our finalist interview, we've got 50 or so candidates, usually for about 25 or so positions. And it is the it is the interview version of speed dating because we have 25 minutes with a candidate and then they're off to the filtration group, or they're off to the instrumentation group. And so at the end, though, we bring these we bring these folks on board and then and then you feel great responsibility. And I am more so I know you're you know, your daughter's in school, when you're when when all sudden your kids are in college. And you have you know, people that are, you know, contemporaries. You want to work out well, if you want them to succeed, once we have put them in a situation where they can be successful. And so when we look at these folks, after we train them, we try to manage their expectations, we say look, we do not expect you to be the best salesperson that we've got. Today, we expect you to go out frankly, in the first year, we expect you to make all kinds of mistakes. And that's okay, we tell them you're not going to break the machine, make the mistakes, you know, you can learn and just learn to get better. And so if you've got the right, if you've got the right, the right person, and they've got the benefit of that college education, they've got the they've got that willingness to accept the Parker culture and to embrace it, to humble themselves to learn about what you know what they gotta learn before they get in front of the customers. And then they go out and make mistakes. And again, this were one of the strengths of our organization is our sales managers who who really have kind of the heart of a teacher. And in they they want to coach counsel and develop these people and turn them into people that really contribute to our success. Now, we fact I got a call later today with the number of our TSA is to prepare for our incoming class of TSA is that they're going to start for us later this month. And so we want to call on alumni, and we want to call on our regional managers to participate and to be a part of, of bringing them into the fold. And, and making sure that, you know, we have every opportunity to make them successful.

Bill Sharratt  45:12  
Fantastic, great program. So, couple last questions. First for for people who are starting out their career, either as engineers, design engineers, or in this case, sales engineers business development. What do you look for Bruce? How does a candidate stand out from their resume? So many resumes at that stage in someone's career? I gotta say, I went to school, and I got this great one. How do they stand out and get noticed for you? We had, we had

Bruce Balthaser  45:45  
a technical sales associate a sales trainee a couple of years ago. And we were we were going through the interviewing, and I could see that she had been a softball player. And I asked her, I said, What does softball teaching? I love sports and sports? To me, it's just a it's a it's a, it's a consolidated lifetime, and every game. And so what did What does sports teach you? And she said, it taught me how to lose. And I, you know, a lot of times when you see candidates, they're gonna tell you all the great things they did. I did this, I got an A in this class, I finished at the top of this, I finished at the top of that, she sort of taught me how to lose. And I said, Tell me more. And she said, You know, I, I love the game. I played it, because I loved it. I always wanted to win. I couldn't understand for the longest time why we didn't always win. And but over time, it taught me that sometimes it doesn't break your way. And I said, okay, so finish the sentence, what happens next? She goes to show up again. And I knew right then that I knew right then that Jennifer vessel was going to be great for us. And she is and so when you see, when you see people who have got that mindset, and they they are willing to say, I've had all this success, I know that well, you wouldn't be here if you didn't have all this success. Yeah. Tell me about the time you fell down. Tell me about the time it didn't work. Tell me about how you adjusted to the adversity. And tell me about the people that helped you. And what does that mean to you? So if you've got that, to me, that that humility, and that ability to to, you know, to say, hey, look, I've learned from some of the things that have not gone right. You got me, I'm already on your side.

Bill Sharratt  47:39  
And take note, everyone. Good advice. Good advice. I think you kind of probably answered my last question. Actually, already. Earlier, you mentioned shoulders of giants. Dave canasta being a big influence? Who are your mentors? And or what sticks in your mind is a big pearl of wisdom nugget that has done you well in your career.

Bruce Balthaser  48:08  
I tell you what you mentioned Dave can answer I learned a great deal from Dave. You know, I always tell my sales managers that it's okay to steal shamelessly from people who are around you and and who influenced you. And you know, whether those people, people that you work directly with, or people that you've only seen from a distance, one of the things that we talk about is the idea of approaching all all situations with candor and goodwill. And, you know, tell the truth, always tell the truth and be forthcoming, into the smile on your face. And we don't want to, you know, we don't want to come across as negative. We don't want to come across, you know, salespeople can sometimes get the impression that they do anything to get a sale, candor and goodwill. And frankly, I stole that from from watching Bill Bennett for a number of years, the former education secretary under President Reagan. So I think that you know, people come into your life at different points along the way. And there's different things that that they do that, that you just want to emulate, you want to incorporate into incorporate into your fabric incorporate into who you are. And, you know, we tell we tell our salespeople that and again, the other thing going back, you know, just just a half step is the idea of failure being more of a friend than an enemy. And, and you know, for me, I had the benefit the very first year that I got into a field sales role with federal mogul. They had left the territory open for 14 months preceding my arrival. So 14 months the territory was vacant. The very first year, the three first full year that I was in the job, the big Once was down 8%

Bill Sharratt  50:02  
and jumpers,

Bruce Balthaser  50:04  
oh my gosh, you really have to take stock of yourself. So you come to the realization that the business was better off with nobody in it. And that was the most that was the most powerful and the most indispensable here because you do take stock and you say, wait a minute, I'm calling on my customers, I'm calling on my distributors, I understand my product i I'm showing up every day I'm putting on the demonstrations I'm featuring, you know, these kinds of products or these kinds of capabilities. And then if you do that, and then all sudden it starts to freak your way. That first year for me was was indispensable. I never have a salesperson worry about he says, You know, I can't believe my first year I was down. You weren't down as much as I was.

Bill Sharratt  50:52  
Fantastic. No, that's that's humbling stuff that really is. candor and honesty, you said candor and your candor and goodwill, candor and goodwill. Definitely how how you approach approach our relationship, Bruce, for sure. I think it is your trademark, something you up. So living, living the words, in your relationships, I appreciate that is getting in touch with you if you know we do shout outs on the show. Do you want to be available to people with questions about Parker or careers? Or because some people will will want to contact you? How should they do that?

Bruce Balthaser  51:40  
Yeah, sure. I can be reached at my email address And we're the search for recruiting never gets over. And so we're always looking for people. And it's just again, like college football. You can't ever turn off the recruiting spigot. Because it's it's it's a war for talent. And so if I hope I didn't say something that just created, you know, 1000 resumes coming my way. But either way, it's either way. It's okay.

Bill Sharratt  52:14  
Excellent. Anything else we didn't cover that you'd like to mention? I think it's been an engaging conversation. I've certainly enjoyed the ground.

Bruce Balthaser  52:25  
I always enjoy talking to you, sir. As that's, that's my goal. So no worries. Well, I have to take him out of the

Bill Sharratt  52:34  
dogs and zoom, they go hand in hand.

Bruce Balthaser  52:38  
Yeah, he, I think he says there's somebody upstairs or he sometimes sees dead people. So he's saying that right now. antastic? No, I appreciate that. You made this, you made this painless. And you were very kind. So thank you. I hope it was beneficial. And again, I we were very grateful for the relationships and the ties that we have with, with with our customers, and our distributors, our customers. And so for both the Buy Sell relationship and then the relationship that transcends the money.

Bill Sharratt  53:15  
Awesome. Thank you, Bruce. Well said. Thank you, everybody. Hope you enjoyed the show and catch us on the next one. Thank you.

Outro  53:28  
Thanks for listening to the Makers of Our Future podcast. Behind every great product is a great seal. Learn more about how we can That's d a r c o i The best seal on time zero defects Darcoid.

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