Back in the USA

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This latest post is definitely long overdue! In the time since my last entry, I left the semblance of normalcy I had grown accustomed to in Santiago and headed back to the USA for a new job.

Admittedly it wasn’t an easy decision to make—I was enjoying life in Santiago and had gotten to know a few good friends. Unfortunately the reality of life often takes hold—it had been over two years since I had a ‘real’ job and despite the numerous issues that came up along the way where I was able to use my problem solving skills, I could tell my engineering knowledge was probably getting a little rusty. I tried to find some engineering jobs in Santiago, but my luck was falling short. I could have stayed as an English teacher, but it wasn’t something that I really wanted to do.

Coming back meant finding the right job, not just ‘a job’. I decided to take a job that I felt would really fit me both as a person and as an engineer. This might sound strange—but as I learned working for Toyota—being an engineer was the only thing that mattered. I still vividly remember the time I was asked by a Japanese coordinator, ‘Dave-san, what’s more important—work or other things?’ Well, if you’re reading this blog, you can probably tell what matters more to me (but at the time I had to carefully word my response to said coordinator).

So what’s this new job that fits me better? I’m currently working as a technical service and support engineer for Loadrite, supporting the Americas. Loadrite is a New Zealand based company whose bread and butter are scales and data reporting for heavy equipment, such as wheel loaders and excavators. In a nutshell, the scales enable a company to accurately track and load trucks…. so that when they leave the mine or quarry site, they don’t need to dump the overweight portion (to avoid fines) or leave under-loaded, wasting fuel. The products help to streamline a company’s operations and increase its bottom line.

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I am one of only three in the USA in this role and the company itself has fewer than 20 direct employees here. Compared to 30,000 working for Toyota, it is quite a change. In my role, I have the flexibility of working from home most of the time, but there’s a small office here in Phoenix where I go when I need to access our products for more detailed support. Other times, I hit the road to support installations or calibrations. So far I’ve done this here in Arizona, as well as Iowa, Washington, California, and have a trip planned next week in Utah. Most times, I get to use problem solving and quick-thinking skills to help resolve customers’ issues.

In short, it is far different than my 6 years spent in cubicles for Toyota. I’m actually able to meet and work with customers, as well as see good results and pleased customers. Of course I met many customers when I worked for Toyota, but to this day, no one has ever said ‘I’m so glad my foglamp doesn’t pop out of my Avalon’s bumper after a 5mph impact’ or ‘Thanks for making sure I can drive over curbs in my Highlander without the rocker panel falling off.’ Seeing the immediate satisfaction of a loader or excavator operator being able to accurately load trucks… as simple as it seems, is gratifying.

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But obviously, life’s not all about work—since I’ve been back, I’ve gotten back into playing tennis, hiking, and taking photographs. I finally purchased a new camera and have been taking a few photos—but not as many as I would like. After living in Santiago where there was almost always something going on, I decided to live in downtown Phoenix—close enough to walk to restaurants, bars & café’s, as well as the supermarket.

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I’m definitely not done traveling—I’m just taking a hiatus of sorts and developing my next set of plans!

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