If you ask Jim Poglitsch what most customers of Dri-Air Industries tell him about their dryers, it is “how long they last.” As Service Manager for Dri-Air, the leading maker of plastics drying equipment, Jim is proud to identify the many dryers that he installed in his first year or two at Dri-Air, where he has worked for more than 30 years. “Many of them are still going strong, and it’s because our customers know that we will be there partnering with them on their dryers, for as long as it takes,” he notes.
“Once in a while I do have to recommend a new dryer,” Jim admits, “although we often try not to. But after a while a dryer can be like an old automobile, there is a point at which you put more into it than you can expect to get out of it. Our more recent models offer some improved operational advantages that our models 30 years ago didn’t have.”
As Dri-Air’s long–time Service Manager, Jim has seen it all. Many customers are repeat business with typical drying issues, but he sometimes needs to tailor a solution to very unusual applications.
“This happened recently with a dry acrylic powder that needed drying,” Jim mentioned. “It was a clean room application and we had to meet the technology challenge, that time in a remote site where we had few resources. We got all the parties together at a restaurant. We talked our way into a workable idea, and got it done.”
Jim says his relationship with Dri-Air and its CEO Charlie Sears began almost 35 years ago when they both were working at another company. “When Charlie and his partner started Dri-Air, they asked me to come over to create a service department and I did. It’s been full-speed ahead ever since.”
Although servicing dryers is a highly technical responsibility, with machines becoming more and more complex every day, Jim says that the biggest challenge in his job “ensuring the customer is completely satisfied. You have to get them to like you and what you are doing for them. Once they do, you are part of their operation and they depend on you to keep their plant running.”
Jim adds, “I work with 20 to 30 customers a week, all over the place – the entire United States, Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico. I do training and problem-solving, start-ups, and R&D… The R&D is the fun stuff – we put our heads together with the customers to come up with the right solutions for them. As Charlie always says, ‘Our customers are our best designers’.”
Part of doing Jim’s job right is to have fun at it and to make sure that everybody around him, customers included, has fun too. “Particularly with start-ups, the customer often has all his resources tied up in a new venture and he/she needs us to make it succeed. In those situations, you can get so tense that everybody goes crazy, or you can have fun and make it pleasant for everybody. That’s my preference,” said Jim.
What about the future? Jim expects machines to keep getting more and more sophisticated. “Drying has not changed”, he says, “but the way we make it work certainly has. HMI controls keep getting better and smaller – our big focus is to make them user-friendly, too.”
“I don’t want to make too much of this, but some of our competitors have let their machines and controls become way over-engineered. We keep it simple. I really believe in what we make here,” Jim added.