Sandy Emry, Account Application Engineer, Würth Industry North America
BS Finance – minor in Business Administration, University: Illinois State University
Sandy Emry began her career in the fastener industry in 2001 as part of a Sales Development Training Program with a fastener manufacturer. She completed the program in seven months and was relocated to Kansas City and became a member of the field sales team working with distributors. In 2016, she became Vertical Team Leader specializing in the Recreational Vehicle market industry. In 2019, she was promoted to Director NA Distribution Sales where she managed a $168M piece of business. In 2020, she began her engineering career with Würth and currently supports two different OpCos at various customers.
Talk about the culture at your company. What makes it inclusive or supportive of women in engineering and automation?
Wurth is the largest industrial distributor in the world and very much has a family feel to the business. The culture is based on team, honesty, customer first and employee growth. The entire Wurth family is based on each member becoming a better person/employee. The door is open for anyone to pursue career choices they feel fit them best. There is an atmosphere of promoting within, educating employees on new developments both industry-specific and the business environment itself. Each employee is encouraged to pursue fields of interest that best fit their skill sets. Our engineering team is diverse and includes people of different areas of expertise, experience and education. We all work together to help solve some of the more complicated opportunities.
Give an example of your involvement in, a design project, a product launch, the development of a new technology, or the adoption of a new technology or process.
Throughout the past years, it was a common belief baking electroplated parts with hardness of RC 39+ would alleviate the risk for hydrogen embrittlement. Through extensive testing, the fastener industry has found that baking parts with this hardness after electroplating does not alleviate this risk. In an effort to protect both our company and, most importantly, our customers, Wurth has mandated not selling product with hardness RC 39 or harder that have been electroplated. I have been working with our Quality and Sales teams to identify those parts that are at risk. I have then been reaching out to our customers’ engineering contacts to discuss their corrosion requirements and provide options for a finish that will alleviate this serious risk. This project is one I am proud of because I know we are making a big difference, not only for our customers, but in the consumer market as well.
What first drew you to engineering?
I have always been drawn to research and understanding how things are manufactured and the reasoning for all the processes involved. Early in my career, I found it fascinating how fasteners are designed and manufactured. Previously, my mindset was “a screw is a screw”. I quickly found out this is not the case. The amount of detail and engineering that goes into the design and production of fasteners is amazing. When working with customers on cost savings/improvement projects, I enjoy seeing how their products are designed/manufactured. I find great satisfaction when I am able to assist with designing a part/fastener that allows our customer to improve their product life, production processes and save money at the same time. I worked with one customer and we managed to consolidate five fasteners into one part and saved our customer tens of thousands of dollars.
Describe your biggest engineering challenge. How did you conquer it or resolve it, or what was the outcome?
My biggest career challenge, in both industries I have worked in, is being a female in a male-dominated industry. In order to overcome this natural bias, I have worked hard to prove I am an expert in my field and have the knowledge base/understanding needed in order to best serve the customers I work with. My favorite story was when I was in Inside Sales at a machine tool company. I was explaining to a customer on the phone what part they needed to repair their machine. They did not believe I knew what I was talking about. They then called my male counterpart who did not have the same knowledge I had. I gave him the script of what I told this customer, he repeated it word for word and the sale was made! From that point on, I was determined to overcome this bias and be seen for who I am.
What career advice would you give to your younger self?
First, I would tell myself to believe in who you are. Everyone has special talents/skillsets and deserves to have a chance to be anything they want to be. I would then tell myself to be persistent, confident, follow your dreams and never look back. Life is not easy so do not get discouraged and be patient for opportunities to develop in front of you based on your work ethic. Life is a journey, not a race.
Filed Under: Women in Engineering