Even after 22 years at Covia, I can’t help but feel inspired and motivated by the internal fortitude and talent of my fellow Team Members. From navigating uncharted territory during down markets and mergers to establishing solid internal structures and foundations, I am incredibly proud to be a part of this team and can’t wait to see what the future brings.
A Drive to Serve
From a young age, I was always drawn to service. Many of my family members, including my brother, father, and several great uncles served in the US military. This desire led me to join the ROTC during my undergraduate studies at West Virginia University.
I graduated in May of 1992 and was commissioned as second lieutenant in the United States Army at Fort Lee, Virginia.
I spent one year active-duty before spending the rest of my 13-year career in the US Army reserves. The military gave me so much – a global family, structure, discipline, a healthy lifestyle, and the ability to multitask. All traits that would help guide me professionally and personally – especially as life threw obstacles my way.
In 2004, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. At the same time, my second child was on the way, and I was being called up from the Army reserves for deployment to Iraq. Due to my condition, I was medically disqualified and was medically discharged from the military. Leaving the military forced me to reconsider my plans and goals. While I still had a desire to serve, I had to change my focus to my civilian life.
At the time I was heartbroken. Thinking back on it now, though, I am reminded of lyrics from an old Garth Brooks song, …“thank God for unanswered prayers.” While it drastically changed my life plan at the time, it allowed me to focus on my young family and my civil-ian career. As I reflect, I can confidently say that I’m grateful for the challenges l was able to face and overcome. Because of this, I learned to take life as it comes – a skill that has helped me thrive in my career.
Leading by Example
I began working at Covia in November of 2001. I started off as a generalist, selling into the glass, ceramic, foundry, energy and refractory industry in the Northeast. I worked in that role for ten years until the energy market began to take off. At that point I was able to take the next step in my career, becoming the head of the field sales team for our energy busi-ness.
In this role, it is my job to ensure Covia has complete coverage in all current and emerging basins – making sure we are maximizing movement of volume from our energy sand plants. I spend a lot of my time focusing on the market and making sure our key accounts have adequate, in-depth coverage.
In addition to my sales responsibilities, I am also a member of Covia’s Senior Leadership Team. While I may not be a fan of titles, it is my job to inspire my team – encouraging them to grow into the best versions of themselves. I have always found this to be far more pro-ductive than “managing” people. I like to think that being a good leader is about being ap-proachable and kind – giving equal respect and attention to every Team Member regard-less of position, and putting in the hard work alongside my team.
From a strategy standpoint, Covia is doing better now than ever before. I am impressed by how adaptable and strategic our team has become in recent years. I love my job and have enjoyed watching our strategy evolve over time to best serve our clients.
Looking back at my time at Covia, one accomplishment stands out among the rest. Years ago, our team was working on securing a particular contract. We had worked with this cus-tomer once before, but the terms of the contract were rather loose. Our team wanted to redefine the relationship – ensuring it was beneficial for both parties.
After an extended series of difficult conversations and negotiations, it felt as though the deal was going to fall through. Luckily, we were able to help secure a much tighter, more favorable contract with the customer– strengthening our overall relationship. I attribute this success to our collaborative, customer focused approach, using clear, level-headed com-munication.
I am incredibly proud of the evolution of that relationship and how strong a partnership we helped to form. We turned what could have been the loss of a valuable customer into be-ing their number one material supplier.
Reaching New Heights
Covia has changed immensely since I began my career. I am impressed by how far we have come and the foundation that every Team Member has helped to create.
I am thrilled about the development of Covia’s first Veterans Network within the organiza-tion. I am looking forward to helping establish a community for veterans, by veterans. I look forward to sharing experiences, but also creating benefits for the organization and our communities.