In his own words: Benjamin Davis, Operations Manager, Gene Davis Sales & Services: Steel Supply & Fabrication
What or who fueled your interest in manufacturing?
I was fortunate to grow up in a manufacturing environment. During my school years, I helped on weekends and some summers at our family steel business. I never thought about joining our family’s steel and fabrication company until I interned at a high-tech aerospace parts company during college. It was fascinating to understand the exacting requirements needed in their manufacturing processes. My interest in making things and solving problems peaked. It was that summer I decided to try and find a job after graduation in the automotive or aerospace industries. After interviewing for management training programs out-of-state, I saw the growth potential at Gene Davis Sales & Services and decided to work with my father to learn as much as I could from him. I loved Erie, so decided to build a life here.
What is your current role in manufacturing?
On paper, I call myself Operation Manager, but my role to make our company operate goes much further than just daily operations. Working in a small company requires you to wear many hats. Every day, I am managing a fabrication shop of welders, fabricators, designers, and floor help. I’m quoting jobs, meeting with customers, preparing CAD design work, doing onsite consultation, and measuring for new projects, planning for future investments, hiring, and training employees. Not to mention pricing and reviewing all accounts receivables and payables. Updating our social media daily and marketing our company also fall into my job responsibilities.
Describe your path to get to where you are today.
Armed with an economics degree from Allegheny College, I decided to enter our family business. First thing I did was take a CAD design class at Erie County Vo-Tech, helping me to understand how to design and cut steel on our water jet and plasma cutting machines. It has been the most challenging and rewarding 7 years of my life.
It’s important to always be thinking about “what comes next”. To this end, we have purchased land and buildings next door that will accommodate future growth of our company. I make sure we are front and center on the internet which has given us a wider customer base. I can’t see myself doing anything else but being involved in manufacturing.
What is your Superpower?
Multi-tasking and problem solving are the two skills I use daily. Our business niche is quick turnaround, fabrication, and machining work. We also sell most types of steel products which affords us to just pull from stock, aiding in the speed of completing jobs. We must solve problems quickly and manufacture jobs even quicker. My days typically consist of trying to get jobs done as quickly as possible with no mistakes. Multi-tasking is the most important skill since we have hundreds of jobs from different customers all moving through our shop at once.
Why is your role important to others – like to customers or end users?
Our business has a niche that many companies in today’s market cannot reach. Servicing customers quickly and accurately is the most important part of our business. I was taught that every customer is important no matter the size of the job. They have chosen to give us their business so they should be treated with utmost respect. Taking care of our employees like they are family is also extremely important to me. Servicing customers and employees like your life depends on it, is what separates our company from our competition and allows us to retain great skilled workers for years.
What do you think the future holds for your career or others you inspire?
Our family business, Gene Davis Sales & Services, is 38 years old in 2023. My father came back to Erie in 1985 to help his father start the company. Under his leadership, it has transitioned from a steel reclamation business into a full-service manufacturing business. Being the 4th generation steward of our family, my goal is to continue to invest in our business, our employees, and the Erie community for many years to come as I transition into ownership of Gene Davis Sales & Services.