This is My Story.
This is My Story.
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‘I thought I’d be in Atlanta long enough to finish graduate school’
In 1982, Scott Means began his graduate studies at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “I applied to many of the top engineering schools, but chose Georgia Tech because of its reputation and one of my favorite professors spoke very highly of the school,” Means said. Newly married, the decision meant uprooting from his native Virginia and moving to Atlanta, for what they thought would be temporary. But 34 years later, not only have they stayed in the same city, but Means has been fortunate to have a flourishing and rewarding career at the company that hired him following completion of his graduate studies.
‘I wanted to get my hands on many different projects’
Means decided to get his master’s degree in Electrical Engineering (EE) because it gave him a diverse set of technical skills. Upon graduation, he interviewed at a number of large companies across the country. Nordson Corp. was the only mid-sized company Means applied to and the only one in Atlanta. For him, Nordson was the organization he found most appealing. He said, “I was drawn to the size of the company. It was exciting to me that I could get involved in separate areas of the company, wear many different hats, and have a lot of impact, immediately.”
When he first started at Nordson, Means was “EE No. 3,” as he describes himself. He said, “I was joining an engineering group that was mainly filled with mechanical engineers and designers. I was the third electrical engineer hired at the company and I was able to help develop the department from the ground up.”
‘The turning point was when our team fully developed its’ first control system’
Four years after Means began at Nordson, he was named manager of the electrical engineering department. At the time, the department was a supporting group for Nordson’s corporate office. “The defining moment came when the team fully developed our own control system,” Means said. “The Model 2300 allowed us to showcase our design capabilities and we’ve been developing complete control systems in the electrical engineering group ever since.” Additionally, Means was able to tap into his alma mater, and began hiring Georgia Tech co-op students for his team. That not only gave Nordson a pipeline to student talent from Georgia Tech, it gave those students valuable on-the-job training.
‘I was responsible for starting a department that served a completely new market’
After spending a few years leading the electrical engineering team, Means was given another new opportunity.
Ready for this next challenge, Means was tasked with creating a new electrical engineering group for a newly formed Nonwovens Venture Group, focused on a new market segment Nordson was pursuing. “I learned a lot from starting a team and it was energizing to be part of a new business venture that combined the disciplines of engineering, marketing, design, and research,” Means said.
After helping the company achieve its initial goals in the Nonwovens market, Means was asked to return to his previous group and manage the team. “The group had grown considerably,” Means said. “For me, it was like coming home. It was a privilege to be part of such a talented group of engineers who were having a tremendous impact on the company’s products. At that point there were almost as many electrical engineers in our division as there were mechanical engineers.”
‘I get to marry the business aspect of my capabilities with the technical aspect of my skills’
For his next move, and where he sits today, Means took on the role of product manager. “Combining my business sense with my technical knowledge into this product management role was a great fit,” he said. In this new position, Means is a lot closer to the customer than ever before and is responsible for managing one of Nordson’s product lines across the world. Means lights up as he discusses all of the people in different countries he gets to interact with on a daily basis. He said, “I love to travel and have logged 1.2 million air travel miles. Since I’ve been in this new role, I go to Europe and Asia about four times a year, and more if there is a global rollout of a new product.”
In addition to his current job, Means continues to use design engineering to develop new ideas and innovative solutions for Nordson.
‘Nordson encourages employees to develop their ideas’
Means said, “Nordson is a huge proponent of innovation. They encourage and reward employees for their ideas.” To date, Means has been awarded five patents. He and his team also received a Technical Excellence Award from Nordson. Means smiles when he discusses this award, “There are just some ideas that we prefer not to patent and instead, Nordson chooses to keep them as a trade secret. Since we couldn’t receive a patent for it, they chose to present us with a different but equally prestigious Nordson honor.”
With every success that Means has had, he has also learned from the challenges he has faced, such as designs that were good in theory, but not in actual execution. “I try to forget about those, but they do happen,” he said, laughing. “The best lesson I learned was before you are ready to launch a product globally, test it thoroughly, especially at customer plants. It will save you time, money, and resources in the long run.”
‘I would get antsy doing the same thing every day’
“When I first joined Nordson, it was about working at a company where I could design a control system and then watch it get made,” Means said, adding, “but as time progressed, it became that with each new diverse assignment I received came new opportunities, new challenges, and new rewards.” Today, Means speaks enthusiastically about his most recent position which allows him to combine skill sets. It’s taken him in a completely new direction in the company, but he sees it as a new challenge that he likens to that of an adventure.
“I get bored easily and I always thought I’d have to move from company to company to get this type of career diversification,” Means said. “The notion of doing something new or different or having to learn is exciting to me. I just never imagined I could find all of that at one company, but it’s been one great ride.”
About Nordson Corp.
Founded as a family-owned business in 1954 in Ohio, Nordson Corp. has steadily grown, both through organic expansion and acquisition. Today the company has operations and support offices in more than 30 countries.
Nordson’s Georgia operations began solely in the engineering arena in 1978 and in the mid-80s, the company opened a manufacturing facility in the state. The company expanded manufacturing operations throughout the next couple of decades, and today they operate two Georgia facilities in Johns Creek and Swainsboro, which include manufacturing, distribution, engineering, sales and marketing operations.
With a long history as a philanthropic company, Nordson commits 5 percent of pretax domestic earnings for charitable purposes. In addition to the The Nordson Corporation Foundation, the company encourages employee involvement through the Time ‘n Talent volunteer program, the Matching Gifts Program that matches employee and retiree donations to nonprofit organizations and schools, and the annual United Way Campaign where the company matches donations from employees and retirees.