The whole story began in 1968 in Czechoslovakia (Now the Czech Republic) during the Prague spring, where for the first time in 20 years, the borders were open, and people were allowed to cross the borders and travel.
A very traditional family decided that it was time to flee from all the unrest and look for a better and safer place to raise their young kids.
With very few suitcases, they left without knowing where to go! And their trip began from Czechoslovakia to Austria, and finally, a month later, they landed in Canada, where they were able to settle down, kids were enrolled in schools, and life started to smile at them.
A few years later, little Andrew, who left Czechoslovakia at the age of 12, graduates from university – “Chemical Engineering”- and started his career journey. He held different positions in different big instrumentation companies till he decided in 1998 that it was time for him to quit the big companies and join a small and promising family business, “Novatech.”
By the end of this year and after 22 years, Andrew’s journey with Novatech is coming to an end. He is retiring and starting a new chapter in his life.
Today we have an exceptional interview with Andrew Klenka and his successor Johann Nunez who will talk to us about their memories and future plans for Novatech.
Hello Andrew, Can you tell us about your first memory at Novatech? After working for big companies for so many years, how was your first impression of Novatech?
I liked it; what excited me was the product line. Coming from a chemical engineering background, I enjoyed the analytical aspect, and Novatech was really one of the very few companies already specialized in analyzers. For other companies, this was a minor part of their product line, while at Novatech, it was completely different.
What skills have you acquired over your entire time working at Novatech? I’m sure working for a small family business is different than large companies.
Absolutely yes! I learned at Novatech to think more like a business person; I learned to look at the whole picture from a business aspect, not just doing your own little part of the job.
What were your most significant accomplishment during your time at Novatech? What are you most proud of?
I guess I would say growing the territory; when I first started, my territory was huge, much larger than it is now because there were so few salespeople. It was a lot like a big greenfield where nobody really knew Novatech yet, and I had to go everywhere to sell the few products we were selling at that time. It was challenging, but for me, this is what I’m most proud of.
I heard you have some of those awards for “Million Dollars guy”…
Yeah… that’s right. Before Novatech acquired Gas Analytical in 2017, we were just in Eastern Canada. Our annual Sales meetings were a bit different; there would be some awards given to top performers, highest total dollars, and so on… and yeah, I have a fair number of those.
What were the most significant challenges?
In the beginning, Novatech was not that well-known; it wasn’t easy to necessarily get people to take us seriously; even to get appointments. But generally speaking, there has always been pretty good support internally and a lot of knowledgeable guys, like Matt Welland, he has a really impressive amount of knowledge in the industry and product-wise.
So it was always good to have such support.
Tell us what do you do when you are not working?
I do a variety of sports; I’m generally at the gym almost every night to stay in shape; I did martial arts, and on the weekends, I do a lot of sports shooting as well.
I learned that you have traveled all around the world and that you have done more than 15 jumps from airplanes. Is this true?
Yeah, that’s true; you know, some people just want many things; my wife and I were more curious. We were spending money on experiences, so we did travel a lot.
The best piece of advice I’ve been given is …. (complete the sentence)
Happy wife … Happy Life!
We know that Johann Nunez will be your successor in Novatech; how would you describe Johann?
I would say that Johann is passionate; he is really eager to do well, is competitive, which is something good at this job; he is not shy to ask a question. You know some people are shy because they’ll feel like they’ll look foolish if they ask questions; Johann is not shy. He picked up things very fast, I would say.
And now to Johann,
Hello Johann, could you tell us a little bit about yourself, and what got you into Sales?
Every job I have had since I graduated from the university have been technical, from working in the oil and gas industry to project engineering and technical support; I decided it was the time to try something different that could give me the chance of being exposed to various applications out there, but at the same time being connected with the technical side that I really enjoy, I don’t want to see myself just as a salesperson, I see myself as someone that can help you not only in choosing the right solution but also as the one that helps you if any question or technical support is needed afterward.
After spending the past year with Andrew, what was the most important thing you have learned from him?
I have learned many things from Andrew; not only has he been a good mentor, but he also became a good friend. He is very knowledgeable, and having the opportunity to work with him before his retirement allowed me to improve my technical knowledge and get familiar with the territory and the different customers we have.
How do you feel being the successor of such an experienced sales Engineer?
I joined Novatech a little bit more than a year before Andrew’s retirement, which gave me exposure to different requests and applications where I had the opportunity to work with Andrew and learn from his experience. To be honest, we will truly miss Andrew.
I’ll tell you a little story; a couple of days ago we were visiting a customer Andrew and I; and when we mentioned to the instrument guy at the shop that Andrew is retiring; He congratulated him and said, ‘’Most of the salespeople stay 2 to 3 years in a company and then move so we loose contact, with Andrew, it was great because He was the face of Novatech, anytime we had internal conversations, and we thought about Novatech, We thought about Andrew!’’. That speaks of what a great job Andy has done over the years!
But there is an opportunity with every challenge, and I am very excited to bring my own personality and motivation to the table. My first goal will be to keep doing the hard work Andrew did while looking for ways to innovate and continue growing.
Can you describe your role as Technical Sales Representative at Novatech?
I like to describe my role as an interface between what the customers need and their solutions. As I previously mentioned, we are always looking for new business; this can be through research, visits, and references. We are always moving, evolving, and changing.
With the improvements in technology, there are so many tools to stay connected, so Sales positions are always changing. And this is what I really like about my role; it can sometimes be challenging, of course. Still, something that you enjoy, just being able to hear what the customers need, learn from their applications, and find the right solution for them is, for me, continuous growth.
What kind of challenges are your customers facing, and how does Novatech help address those challenges?
We are definitely living in difficult times; it is not new that with Covid-19, lots of businesses have been affected by it. With that, challenges arise; some companies are letting essential personnel go, some others have reduced their budgets, or even had to shut down.
At Novatech, we understand that, and because we do, we know that we need to work together with our customers to help them going through these difficult moments. We do this by offering different approaches to satisfy their needs or by just being there at any time if they have an issue that could potentially reduce any non-productive time on site.
And that’s what I like about Novatech; we are not isolated departments; we are one team that is always looking to help our customers. From service to engineering to Sales, all of us, along with our 30+ years of experience, are here to support our customers.
From a “Sales Engineer” point of view, what unique technology does Novatech have in Analytical measurement?
We represent different suppliers; most likely, we will have the right analyzer for your application, but not everything is about the product itself; what about the knowledge behind it? In gas or liquid analysis, we know that some other parameters or conditions can potentially affect your measurements, temperature, and pressure, as an example. So Unique Technology? We have many, and this is one of our suppliers’ strengths. But our mastery remains in how the technology is integrated; and how our systems are designed to succeed. That is what is unique about Novatech; we are experts in what We do, that is it.
What’s the most exciting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone?
We can agree on the fact that we cannot wholly know someone from a resume; in our resumes, we show what we want to show in a chronological way that talks about strengths and work experiences, but what about your very own personality? It is hard to show it on a resume, so what excites me the most and I really like is that in Novatech, I can reveal myself the way I am, bringing my experiences all together while trying to help others and grow together. I think there is not just one exciting thing about me; it’s the fact about always trying to see the big picture that excites me the most.
Tell me about a goal you have for yourself that you want to accomplish in the next year?
When I first arrived in Canada, I started with the process to get my engineering degree certified; I already have my Engineer in Training (E.I.T) certification, which is the first step, but I need to write three exams to get my P.Eng. I will definitely want to start writing them by May. Even though my position doesn’t require me to have this certification, this is one of my personal goals and objectives that I want to achieve sooner than later.
What’s a typical day like for you?
I am not sure if all my days are exactly the same, but I definitely need to include exercising, reading, working hard, and studying.
What are you happiest doing when you’re not working?
It’s all about new experiences for me; if I can learn something new each day, it makes me happy. This year I learned Italian, I read interesting books, and I am looking forward to learning the piano, that, and being with my family is all that I need when I am not working.
What would be your motto?
Be yourself, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, ask as many questions as you have after doing your research, and being humble enough to understand that we are continuously evolving and growing. If we know that and we are in balance with who we are, we are one step closer to success. Everything else will come with time.
“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” – Jane Goodall