This is My Story.
This is My Story.
Watch Prashant’s Video
‘In India the social system is extremely strong’
Having grown up in India, Prashant Dave described the country as a cultural melting pot, with 29 states, speaking various languages and having its own rituals. He recalled how close the social system is within the country. “Relationships with both family and friends are very close and the communities are open and friendly,” Prashant said. “Both good and bad times are shared by everyone within your circle. If I so much as had a cold, everyone would call to check on me.”
Since childhood, he had been curious about the inherent “working” relationship and dynamic between man and machine. At home he would disassemble fully functioning radios, tape recorders, bicycles, and scooters just to understand their “anatomy”. He said, “I believe my parents must have gotten tired of me destroying household items and finally decided to enroll me in a middle school where basic electrical, mechanical, and other engineering subjects were taught.” By doing so, his parents hoped Prashant’s curiosity was satisfied and he would stop destroying household items. He said, “However, even after finishing high school, I kept tinkering with machines, so I went to college for electrical and industrial engineering, and could use someone else’s expenses to fund my interest.”
‘I wouldn’t answer the phone because I didn’t speak English’
Despite the strong ties to family, friends, and the culture, Prashant wanted to move to the United States, as he desired more opportunity for growth, as well as a different educational system for his school-aged daughter.
As a highly trained engineer in India, Prashant received a specialized engineering degree in power generation and distribution. He began his career working at a transformer manufacturing company, where the product was used to distribute electricity to towns across India. He then worked for a steel manufacturer, a heavy machinery manufacturer, followed by a position at an automobile seats maker.
With several years of experience in manufacturing, Prashant chose a job as a buyer and quality control inspector in Pennsylvania. “I was fortunate,” he said. “My best friend from college lived there and they offered me a place to stay.”
Though naturally a self-assured man, Prashant’s insecurities began to chip away at his confidence. “The phone would ring at home and I would just stare at the receiver,” he said. “I could read and write in English, but I had a hard time communicating verbally, so I didn’t want to talk to anyone.”
A year and a half later, Prashant was homesick and ready to return to India – to both the familiarity of his native country and his family.
‘My move back to India lasted four months.’
Four months after moving back to India, Prashant decided to give the States another try, but this time with wife and ten-year-old daughter. He called another friend from his hometown and they helped him to lease a gas station in Snellville, Georgia. He ran the store for two months before finding a job at a manufacturing company. “I liked the socialization of meeting new people each day at the gas station,” Prashant said. “My English started to get better as I talked to the customers, but I knew my passion was around processes and engineering.”
‘I was brought in to run manufacturing.’
Prashant began working at a small, family-owned manufacturing company that developed control systems for customized printing. After 10 years of working there, the owners, a father and son team, sold the company to a large manufacturer.
For their next venture, the same father and son and one of their prior employees, acquired Triatek, a very small but struggling manufacturing company out of auction. They brought in Prashant to run operations.
‘I had to help bring the company back, so I had no choice but to communicate with others’
Prashant’s initial assessment of Triatek was that it needed a lot of work. “Seven years ago when I began working at Triatek, the company was in a bad shape.” What Prashant learned in the first year, however, would be instrumental in his development as a manager and as a person. “We were down to less than 15 people. I had to do whatever it took to help the company get back on its feet,” Prashant said. “Everything from operations to helping engineering to the financials, if that’s what had to be done.”
That experience also helped him build his confidence with his communication skills. “I was in charge of reaching out to employees, vendors, and others to help mend relationships. As I did so, my communication began to improve and so did my confidence.”
After working tirelessly that first few years to increase employee morale and the team’s faith in the new management and earn back outsider confidence in the company, Prashant and his team’s hard work began to pay off. Triatek was heading in the right direction.
‘Being at Triatek has provided me with a family-type environment.’
For Prashant, being at Triatek has been a lot like being back home in India. “There are both multi-generational and cultural backgrounds represented. The company has doubled its size in the last seven years, and we are incredibly proud of over 35 team members who hail from 10 different countries,” Prashant said. “It’s brought the company closer together and has allowed me to tap into the unique strengths of each person’s background, helping to foster a great team and environment.”
To help challenge the team and bridge the communication gaps within the company due to the language differences, Dave is planning to begin offering English classes within the plant. Each week, team members will gather to improve their English and communication skills.
He also understands how important it is to celebrate the unique aspects of each culture. During Thanksgiving the company hosts a pot-luck lunch, encouraging each person to bring a dish from their country of origin.
Prashant is also promoting a health and wellness program, where he will offer weekly aerobics classes, and has offered to personally pay for water aerobics classes for those at work needing to improve their physical fitness.
‘It’s important that we have a strong community at work’
Additionally, Prashant launched an experimental school within Triatek. The team attends a group session each week, where they are invited to talk about everything outside of work. By doing so, he is encouraging team members to get to know each other better, think differently, and continue to increase morale. “I’ve worked at all size companies and I’ve enjoyed them all, but in this role at this company, I feel as though I’m really able to effect change within the team and organization.”
This tight-knit team environment that he has helped create replicates the family values rooted in Indian culture. It’s been 20 years since Prashant and his family first moved to the States, and although they continue to travel back often to visit family and friends, and continue to immerse themselves in Georgia’s Indian community, he is thankful for the opportunities he has had since coming to the U.S. and is excited to see where his journey will continue to take him.
Based in Norcross, Georgia, Triatek is a small manufacturing company of innovative airflow solutions for healthcare facilities, laboratories, and municipal facilities around the world. The company’s product line plays a unique role in mitigating the spread of dangerous airborne contaminants and preventing harmful chemicals from re-circulating in the air.
The company employs 36 people and recently moved and expanded into a bigger facility, to help account for the company’s continued growth.
They were recently in the news for having their product as part of the Carbon Neutral Energy Solutions Laboratory within Georgia Tech’s Strategic Energy Institute, a Platinum LLED-certified building focused on researching sustainable energy solutions.