Listen to the 14 minute episode
The Signal Sources’ Laura Day
The second episode of The Signal Source Podcast introduces you to the other half of the dynamic signaling dual Laura Day. Not only does Laura have decades of signaling experience, but she's also done something .01% of the world's population has ever accomplished.
In the beginning
Laura began her career in signaling when she started with federal signal in 1984, in their shipping office where she updated inventory, allocated orders, ensured stock levels were correct and entered orders into the system.
After working there for a handful of years, a new position as a secretary for the maintenance director opened up and she moved up into customer service.
In customer service, she started to learn more about the product. She also learned how distribution worked, built relationships with reps and gained a deeper understanding of the final customers and end users. It was a huge step up from shipping and it changed her whole perspective on the importance of good customer service and providing timely product information.
How Laura Saves the Day
I asked Laura what the most important aspect of her job was and she said simply getting their orders out on time.
Instead of taking five or seven days, which is the default lead time, she learned how to work with different people within the system that she’d become friends with and would say ‘Hey, can we improve this? Can we do something here?’. Being on the phone directly with customers showed her the real needs people have and it compelled her to give a little more. To push a little harder in alleviating her customers pain in getting them their products faster.
How does she push a little harder?
Laura would get on the phone to production; to the people in charge of the product lines and get things expedited, shaving time off wherever she could find a way.
Laura’s not deep into the technical but she does have a solid appreciation for what the products do and how they all work together. When she started in shipping, she didn't know a tone module needed to go with the select tone or which products needed a specific bracket. Her customer service experience gave her a much broader perspective on how people use the products and with what applications.
Joining the Signal Source
When Rhett placed his first order, Laura got it because she handled the west coast. Rhett was calling direct to check on the order because, as Laura says, he's very impatient. Standard practice is that everybody is supposed goes through a rep. But Laura took up his plea:
‘This guy is just not going to stop calling. Can't we just get this taken care of for him?’
Laura knew Rhett’s order could move faster by making sure it didn’t sit on someone’s desk for 12 hours and that initial effort sealed the deal. Rhett would only call Laura from there on out.
That's how they met and when The Signal Source evolved beyond a rep and into a Federal Signal Distributor, Rhett invited Laura to become part of The Signal Source team.
Laura says she and Rhett really compliment each other and then she quickly slips into describing how much she admires Rhett’s wealth of signaling knowledge and how people rely and count on him in choosing the correct products.
“He’s amazing! I wish I knew what he knew.”
Laura does know a thing or two about customer service and handels the order entry and a lot of the shipping, which she likes since it keeps her from sitting all day. She receives products, commands invoicing, collections – pretty much all things clerical.
It’s probably fair to say she’s as gifted as Rhett is technically in greasing the wheels of their own system in making sure customers get their products the fastest an order can move through a system and out the door on it’s way to a customer location.
Becoming an Ironman
Laura met a group of friends at a local gym who all rode bikes. She borrowed a bike, joined them for a couple of rides and that eventually evolved into a spin class which grew into a passion for riding.
Then, a couple of visiting family members who are runners invited her to join in on some runs and she discovered the beauty and simplicity of running without having to pack a gym bag.
Another visiting friend who swims is out visiting and says, “I'm going to get you in the pool.” This, Laura realized was much harder than biking or running. She tried one lap and then just sat and watched in awe as her friend swam lap after lap. She became determined to learn how to swim like that.
A First Triathlon
A friend convinced Laura to try a local sprint race: 1/4 mile swim, 14 mile bike ride, 3 mile run. She made it through the swim, got out of the water and onto her bike and realized immediately she was hooked.
She loved it, but a flat during the bike portion disqualified an official finish – which just motivated her to try and succeed a second triathlon 3 months later.
Flash forward to today and Laura’s completed 18 half Ironmans (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run) and this September will complete her 18th full Ironman (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.22-mile run).
Isn’t an Ironman Incredibly Painful?
I asked Laura that and she went on to explain how she enjoys the discipline, structure and the sacrifices it takes to accomplish something like that. She describes it as
“No greater feeling in the world then when you cross that finish line. The Ironman has changed who I am and how I feel about the things I can accomplish.”
Laura caught a televised Ironman in Hawaii one afternoon and when she saw the people crossing the finish line crying she thought, ‘I want to know what that’s like’. She wasn’t thinking she would ever do an Ironman initially – just that she had to know what those people were feeling. They looked ‘wrung through the ringer’ crossing the finish line while emitting tremendous joy as family members greet and hug them – spectators cheering them on.
A Signaling Ironman
Laura trains during the pre-dawn hours before settling in and helping people with their signaling. She says it helps get the blood flowing and provides a good start to her day but I think both are a testament of her talents in empathy and a commitment to anything she does.
From pushing through a grueling 140 mile triathlon to Rhett’s cheering and finish line hugs to going the extra mile in getting customers their products the fastest way possible, Laura is someone I’ve come to admire and you will too if you get the chance to work with her at The Signal Source.If you liked this story you should subscribe to The Signal Source Newsletter so we can continue sharing great signaling stories like this.