Some Changes and Reflections

Tomorrow will be the first day in my entire adult life where I am neither enrolled in school nor have full-time employment.   To be fair, this isn’t a surprise and is actually something I had been working on with the management team at Idex Corp for a few months now.  For many reasons, it was the right time for me to leave, and I have been nothing but impressed with the respect the executive team has given me as I worked through the process.  As I spent the last few days wrapping up loose ends, I have had time to reflect on a few things that I thought I would share.

When is it Time to Go?

When the previous company I was at, Precision Photonics (PPC), was acquired in 2012, I really didn’t think I would stick around after the deal was completed.  We had an excellent track record under my tenure as General Manager, and with a successful sale there were plenty of opportunities presented for me to go somewhere else and try to make ‘lightning strike in the same place twice’.  At the same time, there were immense challenges both structurally and culturally when it came to integrating an engineering focused company like PPC into a more financially driven organization.  In the end, my biggest reason for staying was to ensure that the team that helped make me be successful were on their own path to success.  What we tackled to get from there to here could fill a book, but to put it simply I now have a much greater respect for organizational culture and how positive a tool it can be when you understand it (or destructive when you don’t).  This past year, we completed the physical integration of two manufacturing sites, as well as built a more robust commercial and operations infrastructure.    Many of my key team at PPC are now in leadership roles within the new organization and poised to make the decisions to move it forward again.  With the team fully integrated and showing great health, it was finally time for me to move on and pursue those opportunities I put on hold.

(Here is an early pic of me and the founders/owners of Precision Photonics.  I don’t think I even owned a suit back then…)

(Here is a very early pic of me and the founders/owners of Precision Photonics. I don’t think I even owned a suit back then…)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Took me so Long?

I would have never guessed I would stay at one organization for 13 years – I am impatient and ambitious. Much of the credit here has to go to the previous ownership of PPC, who being of similar mind, were happy to give anyone that asked enough rope to hang themselves.  That often meant I was put in roles before I perhaps deserved them and had the opportunity to gain a vast deal of experience very quickly.  This accelerated a career that would have typically required several job changes to move forward at the same pace.  Most importantly, it provided an element of loyalty in an otherwise very competitive and entrepreneurial culture.  This is something I always try to replicate in any team I manage.

Giving and Getting Back

I was doing a pretty good job keeping it together saying my goodbyes this week, until one of the technicians that I have worked with for many years gave me a thank you card.  She had experienced a few difficult periods in her life while we worked together, and wanted to thank me for helping her through them.  I hadn’t thought much about it at the time, but to realize I had genuinely touched her life in a positive way was pretty moving.  I can’t say I am particularly brilliant at this other than tending to offer a lot of respect to all levels of the organization, and having high expectations in return.  This means high performing individuals tend to flourish and others tend to not last that long.

I’ve also realized that some of my most rewarding experiences post-acquisition were actually mentoring some of the younger engineers and managers on how to negotiate all of the change.  While I am still young and have plenty to learn myself, I do look forward to continuing to teach and mentor whenever possible.  This is one of the reasons I enjoy running our cycling program so much.

(A more recent photo - I don’t know how much wiser I am now, but I do dress a lot better.)

(A more recent photo – I don’t know how much wiser I am now, but I do dress a lot better.)

What’s Next?

To be honest, I don’t have immediate plans.  I intend to continue to focus on our cycling program, and already have a few consulting projects lined up that I am excited about.  However, a big reason for this change was to allow myself the appropriate time and capacity to decide on the next big project I want to tackle.

In my short career to date; I’ve earned the opportunity to take on huge challenges and learn from them.

I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Ambassador Interview with Panache Cyclewear

My friends over at Panache Cycle-wear recently did an interview with me.  We had some fun with it and you can find it reprinted below:

Who is Nick Traggis? And why should you care?

by Becca Schepps – Panache Cyclewear

nick

If you ever wondered how to bond two pieces of optical glass together without glue or some type of epoxy, then you know Nick Traggis. He’s the man behind Optical Contact Bonding, a process where two closely conformal surfaces are joined together purely by intermolecular forces. What? Exactly. Nanotechnologist Nick Traggis is a super scientist mega-mastermind. He’s also the man behind 2014’s best amateur team in the country, Horizon Organic/Einstein Brothers and the owner of the management company GS CIAO (he’s currently accepting sponsorship applications). Nick is super fast and loves to half wheel on Panache’s Thursday Throwdown. We love Nick. We love  that he pushes the pace in everything he does (including decking out rally cars). So get to know Nick. Hit him up for a ride, but beware, you will be half wheeled.

If you ruled the UCI, what would be your first call of duty? Create a proper team franchise system that allows for long term sponsor ROI as well as stabilize the upper level of the sport.  Shorten most races, allow less riders per team in a race (both which create more dynamic racing and reduce costs), remove rules that discourage technology development from manufacturers, live cameras on bikes in every World Tour race.  But maybe I would just start with something simple like permanent numbers….

If you could make anyone president of the UCI who would it be? Me.

Nick at school group

Here is Nick showing how he’d be good for the future of the sport.

 

If you didn’t ride bikes, what would you do to fill that time instead? Building super cool cars (and driving them).

If you started a rock and roll band, what would the name be? Atomic Lobster

If you had coined a phrase of wisdom, what would it be? Speak with your legs, not your mouth.

If you could sing one song absolutely flawlessly, what song would it be? Thinking About You” (Radiohead; Pablo Honey)

Nick at Valmont Sandpit

You may think this is Nick’s Tongue Out Pain Face, we think he’s singing along to Radiohead.

 

If you could give your 10-year old self one piece of advice, what would it be? Buy stock in Apple.

If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? My super badass wife’s (Faith Clauson) championship winning chocolate chip cookies.

If you could never ride a bicycle again and rather had to choose between riding only a recumbent or only a unicycle, which would you pick? Well a recumbent is still a bicycle – just a stupid one, so I would have to pick unicycle.

If you could be any fictional or historical character, who would you be? Every bike racer I looked up to turned out to be both…

What’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever googled? “hand drawn bear bicycle pictures”.

If you were to star in a reality TV Show, what would it be called? The Big Kona.  (I was sponsored by Kona bicycles in college and always walked around with a big Kona logo on my shirt….the name stuck for anyone who knew me then.)

Can you draw a bear riding a bicycle? Show me. Yes. Done.

Nick's Badass Panache Bear on a bike

Nick tried to cheat (the first image he sent was clearly nicked off the internet (no pun intended). But we can confirm that Nick did indeed draw this.

 

If you could do one sick trick on a bike, what would it be? Anything that involves a Go Pro, Redbull, and massive air.

How do you feel about crisp tan lines? Look awesome everywhere but at weddings and the waterpark.

What’s one thing you never ride without? Panache Cyclewear bib shorts!

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve put in your bottles and ridden with? I once finished a trainer session before a party fueled by nothing but Franzia boxed wine.  Does that count?