Contributor & Owner: Joe Salling:
I am a proud father of two and husband to the best wife known to mankind. My two girls have hearts of gold, very caring and extremely smart. They amaze me everyday with their outlook on the world and sense of wonder.
I was born and raised in Detroit during the late 70’s and early 80’s, then imported to North Carolina when I was 9. As a boy, North Carolina was a cool place to grow up. My parents had a nice place in the middle of Tim Buk tu (literally). It forced me to learn how to build tree forts, explore rolling hills and work on machines. I was messing around with mowers, weed eaters, motorcycles or anything that needed a wrench. I watched my brother, along with my dad work on various cars (mostly because you had to or pay for someone to fix them. However pops was not paying someone to do something we could).
I think that stuck with me for the most part, no one is going to do the things you need to do – so pucker up buttercup and get it done!
Watching and observing peaked my interest in using my hands on machines. I started with an old 3 wheeler and a 1970 two stroke Kawasaki 150cc street bike. It had a straight pipe right off the header (I don’t know why I am not deaf today). Worked on another 3 wheeler and then moving onto cars when I hit 16.
My brother and I rebuilt my first VW, a Scirocco. We rebuilt the engine, suspension, transmission, and finally installed a bumpin stereo. Then my next project was to “restore” an 81 VW Caddy pickup that had over 280K miles on it (the speedo was broken for 10 years according to the original owner, so who knows how many miles it had on it). That engine was tough, I never did anything to it. I did however add a BAE linear Turbo kit. I found it on a forum from a guy selling new old stock from 1984. This turbo kit did not have a waste gate, it worked like a supercharger. The higher the engine RPM the more exhaust flow the higher turbo PSI (a whole 5lbs which is nothing today). That diesel “truck” would get 70MPG. It took me to Greensboro and back for weeks at a time on one tank of fuel. I would run out of fuel as I did not think about needing to fuel up. Thank goodness for cell phones – my dad always knew what was going on if I called during the week.
I would have to say, my favorite car of all time is a 1993 Porsche 911 3.6 Turbo. This is the car in the movie Bad Boys. A friend had purchased a low millage car from Ferrari North Americas President who had done some tuning on that ride. After performing and excellent detail job on her, he let me drive her. What a dream car. My next favorite would have to be my very own Volkswagen Corrado SLC VR6 (My 1993 Black with tan is shown below). It was the car that Porsche intended to replace the 944 with, but as they got closer to production they pulled out of the deal, and VW sold it exclusively. That car sounded (with some aftermarket modifications) like a symphony (like a cross between a Mustang V8 and a Ferrari at high RPM). With the upgraded Bilsteins suspension, it handled the curves and turned heads like a 6ft tall blonde model. She eventually had to go to a new home so I could return to school, but it was fun while it lasted.
I have had various jobs in many fields which created a colorful and unique job experience. This helped me to grow in many ways that I would not appreciate until years later.
- Car Audio Sales / Installation: At the age of 14 “shop boy” at a car audio (one of the coolest jobs you could have). This was the dawn of the mobile high-fi era. Customer Home and Custom Car Hi Fi was a great company to work for, and the owner Jay Moore is and always has been focused on customer satisfaction. At that time technology was catching up to auto’s and hi fidelity was getting put into cars. Over time, I learned from some of the best minds on proper radio installs, to include wiring for amps, installing speakers etc. The philosophy of Custom Car Hi-Fi was to hide in plain sight aftermarket equipment and present to anyone that it was a factory system.
- Construction: When I graduated High School, I was an employee of my sisters boyfriend. He was a home builder who could build a home from the ground up. In a short period of time I was well versed in the skills of wiring and plumbing (some of which my dad had already taught me but Taylor -the owner of the company, helped me to tie all of my knowledge together). I still use these skills today when there is a problem in our house.
- Military: Off to the Marines to be a Communication Center Operator (using Cobol). My boot camp was at the famous Paris Island, SC. If the Marines can’t make you they will break you in boot camp. I was in the best shape of my life, and unfortunately you can’t in the “public” life keep up that kind of training and exercise (would be awesome to be that fit today!). On to infantry school in North Carolina for a couple of months then my final training area in the high desert of Twenty Nine Palms, California. After a couple of months, a 6.2 earthquake I started to have some unfortunate problems with my feet. I was not alone either many Marines were having foot problems. It seemed we were issued ancient technology from 1952 (boots). I ended up being one of them with plantar fasciitis in both of my feet. After a couple of years, fighting the Marines on this issue (which they denied was caused by faulty equipment) I finally was discharged with full honors. This is one reason why you might hear me say a thing or two about politicians and big government. Two days after I received my medical discharge papers, the Commandant of the Marine Corp announced that 20% of Marines were getting out due to foot problems related to the old boot tech. In turn, Marines were issued standard Army hi-tech light weight boots. What we should have had in the first place.
- Business Owner – Auto Detail Shop: When I was first out of the service, I had some good days and bad days with the old feet. At that time, I was able to start up an auto detail shop with a friend. There were many challenges with owning your own business and also learning the tools of the trade. You really need to know how to detail a car quickly and understand what works and what does not. Customers sometimes thought you could shine the rust and restore the paint that was too far gone. Many good lessons learned about life and also how to keep a car looking it’s best.
- Landscaping / Farm – General Laborer: After the Detail shop I started working for a landscaping company. It was on a working Farm (Elite Landscaping) – working on various equipment and “regular” work as a landscaper. Hard and hot work, but it was very rewarding. I also learned the real value of preventative maintenance. It is so important to service your equipment. Otherwise you will have unplanned down time that will take additional time to fix in the worst of situations.. I frequently refer to this experience at Mack and Volvo Trucks.
- Sales Medical Equipment: I had a great opportunity to work at a medical video company as a sales rep for the South East. So I hit the road – my experience with audio and video equipment and computers at the time helped me to quickly understand laparoscopic cameras (our main line of sales). I was also from time to time grateful to sit in @ Duke Medical to watch the cameras in use. If you have never seen a skilled surgeon using one of these devices it is a marvel to behold.
- Sales Mortgage Broker: As I polished my skills as a salesman which came easy to me, my Friend Neil Tolbert (see his blog here) introduced me to his employer (working in Mortgage Brokering). They needed another sales person and I found the work interesting. I worked for three companies in this profession for several years. If you have never worked at a bank or a financial institution, this perspective is extremely important to understand. Banking rules and regulations are very complex. I am almost certain that if the general public was taught in public or private schools about financing, many households would be in a better position today. I think this topic is something for a later post.
- Paving: At the same time when I worked with the mortgage companies, I also worked days on a paving crew… those were long and difficult days. Driving a horrible shifting dump truck (thank goodness it was few and far between), using any and all equipment I could put my hands on like tractors, skid steers, pavers, rollers, jack hammers and backhoes. One of the most self gratifying work I have ever done.
- School: Back to school and the stereo shop – The VA came through and got me into a program at a local tech school. It was a very rapid and intense program and I learned a lot from it. It was at the time the Internet was poised to take off and I jumped in with two feet.
- Tech Support: Elon College- was employed at the school over the summer for a couple of weeks and then worked to support the new students coming in getting setup on the network. Good pay, but better tips when their dads were happy to make their daughter happy with their new home.
- Network Support: Local PC / Network company – the days of working for a company for 15 hours a day and on weekends. Those were rough days. Not only did I earn my keep, but my knowledge and understanding grew tremendously during this time about servers, networks and PC’s in general. If you have ever ran cable through a building or setup various networks (to correct another persons failure), then you understand what kind of long and frustrating days I had. We also picked up a contract from Time Warner Cable to install the RoadRunner service. Many people at that time had desktops that did not have any NiC cards installed and they needed a card to be installed to utilize the service. We would get to the persons home, install the NiC card and roll out the door. This is also where I met my next boss who worked for Volvo Trucks. He had a ring network that was failing and we were able to trouble shoot the problem and resolve the issue… then he asked me if I would be interested in a job.
- 2000 – Volvo Parts / IT: Global Diagnostic ECU Programming responsible: I also had the side gig of our Intranet web master (this is where I confirmed what I wanted to do long term). Primary role of using my PC skills on a diagnostic program to identify control unit problems. Identification of hardware, wiring and programing issues for ECU control units.
- 2003 – Mack Trucks and Volvo Trucks: Web master / Manager of public / dealer web sites / dealer extranet portal / Intranet.
- 2006 – Volvo IT: QA manager for common web platform for Volvo Group & Volvo Construction Equipment account manager. The VCE position was for requests for the global Internet and dealer portal platform. Negotiating activity around 700+ web sites, features and functionality.
- 2008 – Volvo IT: SharePoint consultant and Global team lead for InfoPath workflow and business development team.
- 2010 – Volvo IT: Production Manager for Volvo Groups web platform. I was recruited to come back to the platform to help get the application which was struggling at the time, to help correct and drive the team in a common direction for the greater good. There was many loooong nights and days but we were successful in getting the platform stable and moving. Some of my Production planning, scheduling, identification skills with a great team ensured a quick delivery and corrected core issues with platform. This job was very challenging and was also beneficial working with all of the Volvo Group companies at one time.
- 2012 – Mack and Volvo Trucks: Manager of Internet – working with two very capable marketing teams to create new opportunities in our web sites. Great way to start working in the “Business” again vs. IT. Changed how we operated on the Internet with a wonderful group of people in and out of my department.
- 2013 – Mack and Volvo Trucks eBusiness / eCommerce / Internet Manager: many times I complain about my title as it does not tell the entire story… not only does the term eBusiness not really reflect what I do – it is somewhat a dated term. From managing the global Macktrucks.com platform, working with the North and South American Volvo Marketing teams or our local aftermarket people in North America to deliver a successful story on an ecommerce tool, there is never enough time. Also my responsibilities is to see our future strategy for both Internet environments but also portals. My team is small but we pack a punch, as we also take on the role of managing our dealer Extranet Portal as well as our customer portal.
Responsible for driving clear capabilities of our web platform to help in driving marketing strategy and execution of such goals. Use competitive analysis, customer insights and taking data driven approach to developing marketing strategies, budgets and programs that build brand awareness, drive new customer acquisition and increase lead generation.
- Develop a cohesive multi-channel marketing strategy for the businesses based on customer insights, business trends and company priorities; lead segmentation.
- Establish and work with marketing on content calendars
- Create and execute activities around driving change in the company to modernize using our platforms.
- Be a Brand Ambassadors, Influencer to drive awareness, and conversions
- Work with marketing to build and execute a comprehensive email strategy for customers and dealers using Oracles Eloqua tool.
- Develop and maintain key performance metric reports that track efficacy of variables and efforts
- Working closely with marketing team to develop paid/free strategies across traditional, digital, social channels
- Work closely with PR team to establish goals and ensure PR strategy aligns with broader marketing strategyFurther break down of my duties
- Direct-to-consumer ecommerce sales ownership. Taking sales from $250K to over $4.5 million in two years.
- Adobe and Google Analytics Certified, BrightEdge SEO Certified
- Manage global domain names & support multiple groups on strategy on how to deploy and use domains to get the best SEO possible.
So far in my career I have always tried to recognize that a team is truly needed to be successful. Your blog or small company I am sure works with many people that helps you put the pieces together. Don’t forget to say thanks even if it is your wife, husband or parents who “help” you be successful at what you do.
I also have to give a thanks to God who has given me great opportunities in life, giving me great challenges, disappointments and also some great wins. In hind site, I don’t know if I could or have said thank you enough to all the people who have helped me over the years.