Best Foot Forward: The Parker Hannifin Winning Formula for Developing Impactful Employees



Faith Hruska is a Territory Sales Manager with Parker EMG. Faith has already distinguished herself at Cleveland State University, where she is on her way to gaining her degree in mechanical engineering. She was noticed by the Parker Hannifin Corporation for standing out in her class and recently graduated from the company’s prestigious Technical Sales Development Program.


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

  • Faith Hruska’s motivation for choosing STEM and engineering as an educational path
  • The role Faith played in her capstone project, the National Fluid Power Association's Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge
  • The selection process for Parker’s Technical Sales Development Program
  • A newcomer’s take on the scope and complexity of the US seal industry
  • Observations on a rotation outside of Parker and time spent at Darcoid, at the sharp end of the customer experience
  • How Parker’s materials expertise drives better seal performance

In this episode…

Parker Hannifin is a global Fortune 250 company and recognized leader in the industry. They’ve developed a powerful program for hiring and developing new graduates into business development team members: the Parker Technical Sales Development Program. But be warned: this is not a simple training course.

This course is a year-long series of embeds with manufacturing divisions and Parker partner companies across the country. Faith Hruska, a Territory Sales Manager at Parker EMG, recently graduated from the program — and she’s here to share all of her lessons and insights with you.

Join us on this episode of Makers of Our Future, for a rare opportunity to spend time with someone just starting out in her career journey in the seal industry. Bill Sharratt sits down with Faith Hruska, Territory Sales Manager at Parker EMG, to learn how her interests and educational path enabled her to stand out in a competitive selection process. Plus, they discuss how she has thrived in this challenging training environment.


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Sponsor for this episode

This show is brought to you by Darcoid. We're building this podcast as a searchable store of knowledge, something you can reference if you’re new to seal design. And if you’re starting out on your career in engineering you’ll learn what others have done to achieve career success. Learn more at www.darcoid.com.


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 0:21

Hello and welcome 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 voices from the seal industry that's making all that possible. Here at Darcoid, we decided to make this podcast 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. And I'm your host for today. My guest today is someone who's starting out her journey in the steel industry. I'm delighted to introduce you to Faith Hruska. Faith has already distinguished herself at Cleveland State University and on her way to gaining her degree in mechanical engineering. Standing out in her class also got her noticed by Parker Hannifin Corporation, where she's now graduating from the prestigious Technical Sales Associate Program. Welcome to the show Faith.

Faith Hruska 1:27

Hey, Bill, thank you so much for having me.

Bill Sharratt 1:30

You bet. I'm excited to see you. We last saw you. Last week, as you said goodbye to a period with us you had a rotation at Darcoid as part of your training program. How was homecoming? It's been a long time since you've been home, right?

Faith Hruska 1:46

Yeah, it's been, you know, it hasn't been too long compared to some other times, like other rotations. But last time I was home was five weeks ago. So it's definitely great seeing the family and just being back home in my bed

Bill Sharratt 1:59

Good. Excellent. And you got to unpack your suitcase, right.

Faith Hruska 2:03

Didn't get that far yet.

Bill Sharratt 2:04

Thanks for your honesty. So let's get into a bit about your background. Why you why you chose the path you're on and talk about the path that you're on and and go from there. I mean, let's go to the beginning Why Why choose a career in engineering? What was behind that Faith? Sure,

Faith Hruska 2:30

um, you know, just from the beginning and childhood like early science, I was always interested in you know, how things are made us always liking to work hands on building things. I always had these huge LEGO sets I would build spent all day building next week, I would tear them apart just to I can make my own things. I also really enjoyed watching, you know, the TV show how it's made, because I just curious to see, you know, I was using this product every day, like how was it actually made? How's it manufactured? So, as I grew up, during in high school, I was always good at, you know, in math and sciences. So I knew I wanted to take on a STEM career. And yeah, with engineering, it just something that I was good at, you know, I was good at the math of the sciences, and you're interested in again, you know, how how things are made, I wanted to do something and make a difference in the world. So engineering is, you know, a safe, secure option. And also, you know, just a background of my dad's an engineer as well. So he had a good input with me and my journey into engineering.

Bill Sharratt 3:36

Right. So it wasn't too much of a strange path. Boy, we had some guidance along the way that the

Faith Hruska 3:42

grades a little bit. Yeah. Good.

Bill Sharratt 3:44

So let's jump to Cleveland State. Looks like you got very busy. All kinds of awards and scholarships, made the Dean's lists progress award. Looks like your capstone project was the NFPA fluid power vehicle challenge. And Cleveland State overall champions. Tell us about that.

Faith Hruska 4:11

Yeah, so every year at Cleveland State for you know, our capstone projects. Every year, there's a team that competes in the national fluid power Association, fluid power vehicle challenge, I know a long name. And just every year colleges throughout the entire country compete and building a fluid power bike. And you know, you see certain like, frames, you know, like a normal two wheeled bicycle, but for my team, we decided to use a tricycle design. And yeah, this project was really unique. You pedal, like a normal bike to build up energy, stored energy to use later on. And it's it was really, a really an experience, you know, working with a team, we had a team of eight people, and we actually Got a chance to use a lot of Parker products? Okay. And our bike so that's kind of my first introduction of Parker Hannifin.

Bill Sharratt 5:08

Did you know anything about Parker before this, this project,

Faith Hruska 5:13

you know a little bit being I grew up in the Cleveland area and you know, Parker being headquartered in Cleveland, I always saw it so I knew who it was, you know what they did, but it wasn't until getting into you know, engineering at Cleveland State. Parker actually does a really good job with you know, doing recruiting from Cleveland State actually built a fluid power lab and our college so I first experienced was a blue power class I took in the Parker lab and then after that, I got more experience through the the fluid pike

Bill Sharratt 5:53

you back to the bike, not plugging pocket. So when we you're pedaling a bicycle and your pedal energy is it's not going to the the drive train of a normal bike it well. It's a hydraulic accumulator, you're pumping hydraulic fluid. How does that work?

Faith Hruska 6:11

Yeah, so there actually is a drive train, you know, so you can pedal it like normal, but there is an accumulator. So which when you pedal, you can, you know, build up the energy into the accumulator, or you can charge the accumulator by itself.

Bill Sharratt 6:25

And then it's, there's a button switch lever somewhere, and you release that accumulated energy back to the drive system. So how much weight does that add to a bike? Are we going to see this in Tour de France anytime soon?

Faith Hruska 6:41

Probably not anytime soon. But, um, you know, the bike is a little on the heavier side.

Bill Sharratt 6:47

Yeah, I can only imagine but great exposure to hydraulics. That's a, there's a lot of plumbing there a lot of concepts. Really good way to get your hands on that kind of science, technology. Excellent. And you won, right? Yeah, it was.

Faith Hruska 7:07

It was kind of scary, because the previous two teams before mine also got the champion. So it was kind of stressful on us. Like, we have to win, we can end the champions streak. So luckily, we ended up winning.

Bill Sharratt 7:21

Fantastic. How many on the team? Was it a huge team are a small, slightly large team yet eight of us. Okay. So how did you divide and conquer with all the tasks? Did you each take a specialty in a subset? Or were you working collaboratively throughout?

Faith Hruska 7:40

Yeah, so we kind of divided up, mainly divided up. So we had like some people working on pneumatics, and people working on hydraulics, on the schematics, other people working on the more, you know, logistics side of the competition. And then at the end, we kind of all went together to just know, finalize everything, making sure that we were all on the same team, and making sure that we, you know, did the competition rules correctly?

Bill Sharratt 8:08

Which bit were you working on?

Faith Hruska 8:10

Yeah, so I did some work on the hydraulics.

Bill Sharratt 8:16

Excellent, lots of seals in hydraulics, that'll get you very familiar very quickly. Super. I will note that also notice from your LinkedIn profile, you've had a couple of interesting looking, interning experiences, Voss industries, and I think Aerospace is that correct?

Faith Hruska 8:36

Yeah. So vos is an aerospace manufacturer, okay.

Bill Sharratt 8:40

And were you hands on there or was it a support role?

Faith Hruska 8:45

Yeah. So with Voss, I worked as a manufacturing engineer, so it was less hands on in the actual you know, machining, manufacturing, but I did you know, have a good you know, good balance of working in the office and supporting the CNC department.

Bill Sharratt 9:02

Excellent, excellent. And then I noticed out in manufacturing, I, I noticed that they, it seems that they hire a lot of lot of interns. How, how was that?

Faith Hruska 9:17

It was great. Yeah, we had a large intern class from you know, colleges all over. And what I really liked about this was, it was my first internship and it was very hands on so we actually got to do work on the actual CNC machines and learn you know, the ins and outs of machining like that way and I just thought it was really neat experience because it just gave me a really good understanding and you know, just a better perspective on the possibilities and limitations of machining. You know, I think not everything that you design can be machined. So having that background of manufacturing and machining is really good for engineering.

Bill Sharratt 9:58

No, really. I thoroughly agree He puts you in that maker category and someone who knows how to turn upon. Is stands apart from from others did during these internships did it? Did you ever have pause and think what the hell? Am I getting myself into with this engineering thing? Or did it really continue to stoke the fire? How? How did that work for you?

Faith Hruska 10:22

Yeah. So with, you know, my experiences, they're both in manufacturing. I think it was, it was great to get my hands dirty. That's, you know, a part of engineering. But with you, in my experience, I did learn that I didn't want to do that for my entire career path. So that's why now I'm in the technical sales role, which I've been enjoying so far.

Bill Sharratt 10:43

Well, I, I'd encourage any interns in the Cleveland area, check out those companies. I love the tagline on with Bowden for the outreach for internships, it's like get your hands dirty, and learn how to make stuff. I mean, it couldn't be more simple than that. Yeah, it

Faith Hruska 11:02

couldn't be more accurate and simple. And it was really neat seeing because I you know, I assisted some of the engineers with a new product and seeing, you know, working being a part of the design work and actually machining it, setting up the machine, you know, making changes and getting the end product in your hand. It's just a good feeling.

Bill Sharratt 11:22

Fantastic. Fantastic. All right. So let's talk about Parker's Technical Sales Associate Program. I know from my relationship with Parker over the years, it's a very prestigious program. So congratulations for for making the grade. What was the selection process? Like?

Faith Hruska 11:45

Yeah, it was, it was a pretty lengthy process. So for me, you know, I first went to the career fair, and you know, they had the technical sales option there. So just learn more about that as some questions. There's a few interviews following that. And at the end, there's a finalist event. Normally, they fly everyone out to Cleveland and headquarters for I think, a two day event a first day, that dinner. And then the next day is a full day of interviews with COVID miles all virtual. So this finals event, you interview with all the different groups of Parker, so I got to interview with, you know, EMG, with filtration with hydraulics, fill connectors, everyone.

Bill Sharratt 12:30

So could you choose or have a preference over which operating group because these are very different? They're all grouped in the motion and control technologies. But filtration and seals are very different animals? Did you make a choice? Or was the choice made for you?

Faith Hruska 12:51

Yeah, so they are all very different, but they actually made the choice for us. So you know, after the, after the enemies? And did you just get a phone call? Saying that you have an offer from this group?

Bill Sharratt 13:05

It's rolls of the dice that have got you to where you're at right now. It's like, I love I love the process and the path that you've been on. So you're assigned to the engineered materials group, the seal group, if you will, how does the technical sales associate program develop you at that point?

Faith Hruska 13:32

Yeah, so I'm assigned to engineer materials group. And, you know, going into it at first, my first thoughts were, how is there so much business in the steel industry? Look and realize that there is so much more to it than I thought. And you know, what the technical sales training program Parker does, just as a great job of, you know, preparing recent college grads into new and transitioning into the real world, and you know, in their careers. And so with my program, I started off in Lexington, Kentucky at our OES division, our flooring, engineered seals. And I spent about two and a half months here, just learning the basics of O rings and elastomers materials. I also spent time visiting our manufacturing sites seeing you know how the process of manufacturing an O ring. After that I moved on to Salt Lake City and our engineered polymer Systems Division EPS. I was here for about six weeks. And also it's a nice transition because you know, oh, yes, division that's more basic static co o rings. And then when you go to EPS, it's more a dynamic ceiling, so a little bit more challenging. And so I spent six weeks there, and then in January, I went to our CSS division and San Diego which is incredible. This is our composite sealing Systems Division, so another, you know, a little tear up so composites for more extreme locations. And then after that, I'm moved again to back to the east coast to North Haven, Connecticut, and our Advanced Business Unit. And then last stop was that Darcoid? Okay.

Bill Sharratt 15:13

North Haven Advanced Business, those are metal seals, right? Yes, correct. So you kind of went up the, the value and performance chain, if you will, from what people would think of as basic seals, although, in my experience is nothing basic about a seal. And up the complexity chain, exposed to different groups of materials. And basically, the way this the EMG division is group that they kind of group, the whole steel line card, and it's a very, I've got a line card here, it's very broad group of field types, when they bucket it into kind of centers of excellence, addressing particular, like you said, with EPS, it's, it's dynamic seals and hydraulics and fluid power and so on. Very good approach, how did that inform your kind of education on what a seal is?

Faith Hruska 16:20

Yeah, there's a, you know, a lot of training. So at each division, we did just specific parkour training modules of learning, understanding certain materials. Also, we did training with the engineers, like pretty much every department. So it was engineers, we learned about the materials about the how to like how to design the seals. We went through, you know, customer service, pricing, procurement. Every every department. So it was really neat. This learning just every aspect of the business. Excellent.

Bill Sharratt 16:55

Well, when you're in school, Cleveland State. And you said, you know, you'd never realized that the steel industry was so large. What was the training and education like in elastomer science or seal technology at the at the engineering school level?

Faith Hruska 17:14

Yeah, so we took some courses in more like manufacturing engineering, and in that class, we, we did touch base on a little bit of some material, but honestly, not too much. Yeah. A lot of materials like them are chemistry based. So I don't have too much of a background on that. But at least, you know, through school, having just a technical background of it's just really helped me to just be able to understand the seal business better. Yeah, excellent.

Bill Sharratt 17:47

Yeah. The people I've spoken to almost unanimously say you don't learn seal at school, it's one of those things you have to get out in the field. When I was hired into the business, again, like you, I had no idea that that was such a large industry. And my mentor at the time said, it's gonna take you at least two years just to learn to ask the right questions. Because it was a learn by doing kind of environment and he was right. And it is an education process that that is continuing. I'm still learning new applications. But boy, you've got the condensed version, you got the power of pocket behind you. And that exposure to all those different technologies and groups and people who really understand the technology. I don't think you could get a better, more well rounded education. So that's exciting. And then, then you went to Darcoid right. So you finished off your training outside of the Parker family. We're family we're obviously have a very close relationship with Parker but what did you What are your impressions when you came to Darcoid?

Faith Hruska 19:02

All great impressions, you know, not not saying just because you're a Parker distributor, but it's like it's, it's true. So even first day, walking through the door, it's not even related to stainless steel business. I was welcoming just like family. And Nikki, I could just tell immediately that you guys are one big family and then just invited me all open hands and just made me feel so welcome. So I had a really great experience just walking in, in general, but more on the CEO side. You know, I realized that you know, that Darcoid works to just manage the wholesale program for a customer from start to finish. And during my time at Darcoid you know, I got to experience all the different all the different departments so I started in OPS went through quality engineering, spent time with fulfillment, customer service, sales, everything and I really just quickly noticed, first of all, how much attention to detail that Darcoid puts in quality, you know, it really does come first, I spent a few weeks, you know, a good amount of time working in the quality department. And, you know, once seals come in, they're, they're visually and dimensionally inspected. We do things like material validation, just, you know, just to trust, but verify, just as another step of, you know, quality assurance to the customer. And, you know, with all of these quality checks, you are just able to, you know, catch any quality concerns before items are shipped to a customer. And then if you do catch you know, something, a defect or something, you're able to work with the customer and the supplier, just to quickly figure out, you know, what went wrong? What, what was the problem? And how can we solve it? And you really, you know, put so much detail and attention just to making sure that what you're giving, the customer is, you know, is what will work best?

Bill Sharratt 21:03

Thank you. Yeah, it's, you're right, you hit on that phrase, trust, but verify we work with the best manufacturing partners in the world. But still, you know, our customers are, they demand excellence, they're pushing limits. Sometimes they don't have a very big seal spend the time to get noticed by the large brands directly. So we provide that intermediate layer. And yeah, it's, it's a critical part of the supply chain. I'll stop talking about me. So quick, throw you off your have balanced question. Before you as part of your education as part of the year learning about steel, what about what properties or what property about rubber and elastomers was a real standout to you? Because people think rubber it's stretchy there? That's it? Anything stand out?

Faith Hruska 22:06

Yeah, I think what stood out to me is how much they can go through, you know, you know, even rubber is can withstand so much high pressure, so much high temperature, so much movement, and that kind of that really shocked me, you know, like you think like, oh, it's it's just rubber can't really handle too much. But, um, you know, with, with our materials, they can withstand so much.

Bill Sharratt 22:30

No, good. Excellent. Okay. So what is next on your path? Faith? I know, I know, what's next. But you know, tell our viewer what is next?

Faith Hruska 22:46

Yeah. So, you know, for the past nine months, 10 months, I've been traveling, you know, our different divisions and training. So, after this, I get placed in a territory as a territory sales manager. And I actually still don't know where my territory is going to be at. We should be finding out today. Oh, hopefully today.

Bill Sharratt 23:10

Well, I'm glad we're doing this podcast now to give you something to take your mind off, are you are you nervous?

Faith Hruska 23:15

Kind of, you know, I have ideas of, you know, what's open, where I could end up, but still things can change, you never know what will happen. And it is, you know, it is a little scary. I have to move quickly. So once I get placed, you know, find, find an apartment and like very quickly and then pack up all my stuff and move. So that's a little bit scary. But I know I'm excited. I enjoy change. I'm looking for something new. And I'm really eager to just, you know, start my career in sales. So it's just all excitement from here. Oh, that's

Bill Sharratt 23:49

fantastic. I mean, look back to a year ago or so before you started the program. I mean, did you imagine you'd see you'd be traveling so much that you'd be getting exposed to so much different stuff in such a short period of time. What's your reflection on that?

Faith Hruska 24:06

Absolutely not. Yeah, so if you asked me when I was still in college, eighth you know, you'll be traveling to all these amazing locations and just learning so much I just say oh, no, like who does that? Like why would I be traveling all over the country and I'm just so grateful for the program and I've truly just learned so much so I you know, everywhere I go I try to be a sponge you know, just absorb as much information as I can and you know, make connections so that when I'm in the actual field, I will you know, be successful.

Bill Sharratt 24:38

Fantastic. Great program. certainly looking forward to your your developing career and tracking that we're sorry that you had to go back to park and we really enjoyed having you here. I'm sorry, you didn't get to see our our engineering test bench. We you saw the construction of its new home. Thank you Yeah, but that that's a, that's a big part of what we do. And I had hoped you're gonna get hands on there. But construction happening, I'm sorry about

Faith Hruska 25:08

this, okay, no worries, I still, you know, didn't get exposure to the bench and you know, saw the process of entire room being built, I feel like when you go into a company, normally their test bench test labs already built up. So being able to see some of the process of, you know, what goes in to, you know, building a whole new lab is was really nice.

Bill Sharratt 25:30

So, my takeaways are kind of a reinforcement that Parker's got a winning formula. Find the best and the brightest out there and apply long in beds with centers of manufacturing excellence, and deploy were most impactful, it's a great program, where the industry is the better for it, to train people like, like yourself. And as a parent of daughters, I'm delighted to see young ladies take the stem path and really get their hands dirty and get involved. So congratulations again to your Faith. That's excellent.

Faith Hruska 26:16

Appreciate that.

Bill Sharratt 26:20

I think, you know, we just got to watch your career with with much interest in hope paths cross and I don't know where you're gonna go. But I would love to stay in touch. And maybe we can do another podcast a year from now and see how the story's developing. What do you think?

Faith Hruska 26:39

That'd be a great idea. I would love that.

Bill Sharratt 26:41

Cool. All right. Well, thank you very much. Do let us know where you're going to go. I can kind of hear the drum roll in the background.

Faith Hruska 26:50

Waiting for the phone. I always have my phone on me just waiting to hear it ring.

Bill Sharratt 26:56

Excellent. Well, good luck. Best of luck to you. And thanks for spending some time with us today. I really appreciate it.

Faith Hruska 27:02

Thank you very much Bill.

Outro 27:06

Thanks for listening to the Makers of Our Future podcast. Behind every great product is a great seal. Learn more about how we can help at www.darcoid.com That's darcoid.com. The best seal on time zero defects. Darcoid.

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