From snow storm to sand storm … and back

by Noë van Bergen, winner of the Egemin ie-net Award 2013

When I came to the US, it took me a little while to get involved in ongoing business and projects. I first had to get to know the new staff and environment. Towards the end of my stay however, my schedule quickly filled up with site visits and meetings, which made me almost forget that I initially planned to take a couple of days off to explore some other states than the snowy Michigan. By the time I realized I was going to be spending my entire last three weeks on the road, I should already have packed my luggage.

First destination, after a 15 hour drive south, is one of America’s biggest breweries. Here, over thirty of Egemin’s E’gvs work around the clock, carrying double pallets of the nectar of the gods. They closely navigate through one another on a big open floor, which made me think of couples dancing a majestic Viennese Waltz. What a little imagination can do. The dance of the beer cans ends in trucks and sea containers, ingeniously loaded by some additional truck loading E’gvs and made ready to be shipped.

Only five hours drive from there, I joined the sales team to present multiple conceptual solutions to a potential customer we had visited before already. I would have loved to see this case resulting into actual sales before I leave the country. My (over)enthusiasm got slightly tempered though, realizing that a few months’ time is rarely enough to make such big decisions.

Destination number three is Egemin booth at the Modex Trade Show in Atlanta, the greatest supply chain fair on earth. Whereas for Egemin the goal is to present themselves and get potential customer leads, I took the time to spy around a little and study what the American competition looks like. So far, my last working days for Egemin USA.

During my time off, I ended up driving straight across the country to the West Coast and all the way back, to get completely astonished by the Natural Parks’ beauty, and the hugeness and diversity of the country. To give a small teaser: I took a dip in the Pacific, nearly ran over a wild turkey on the road, had beeping ears after attending a NASCAR race, found a pinecone of a sequoia tree almost twice the size of my head, got addicted to my 24 oz (0,71 litre) morning coffee, felt the thrill of wasting money in Las Vegas casinos, got the car full of sand trying to order at the KFC drive thru in the middle of a desert sand storm, had a two inch thick layer of ice covering up the entire air intake of the engine only one day later in the Rockies, and got my left arm sun burned hanging out of the car window. It was a slightly ambitious journey, but it turned out absolutely great.

I just made my way back home, with half a suitcase of presents. The great thing about souvenirs from the states is that you can buy them 24/7 at the Meijer hypermarket, only one block away. Cookie dough, strawberry moonshine, an American football, buffalo jerky, my Bear Grylls hunting knife, and of course a combo jar of peanut butter with grape jelly stripes, so you never have to put your peanut butter spoon in the jelly again. It’s amazing what Americans come up with to solve day-to-day inconveniences.

Once more I want to thank the US team for having me, their hospitality and helpfulness. I had a both instructive as well as enjoyable experience, which I highly value. Next two weeks I’ll be working in Belgium again, before leaving for Shanghai.

Take it easy.