Episode 4: Meet Jeff Adams
Welcome to Privacy Matters podcast. This is episode 4. I am your host, Andy Vawter and we’re excited to have Jeff Adams with us today. Jeff is the key account manager for Texas and a couple of other regions in the central part of the United States. Thanks for being with us, Jeff. (Jeff: Yeah, it’s great to be here.) So really excited to have you here because you and I have worked together for a few years now in a direct capacity where we both did sales together in the same territory as a team. So, our roles have shifted a little bit. My role has shifted, but I’m pretty excited to talk with you because most of what we’re gonna talk about today is success stories and things that have worked for us and more specifically for you. Hopefully, some of these stories will help the reps out there and the dealers out there have some Aha moments where they get to, you know, here I had never thought about what it could be applied that way or that you guys did that or I didn’t think about that type of a customer. So I’m pretty excited to be able to share some of these stories and some of them are pretty cool.
So but let’s first talk about you a little bit and, you know, get to know Jeff Adams. So if he could, let’s just start with. Tell us a little bit about your background. What led you up to this point where he came to Speech Privacy?
Yeah, absolutely. Surprisingly, I was born in California but grew up in Texas, did a little stint in Arkansas, actually went to the University of Central Arkansas. There I was a history major, really thinking at the time to go into more of an education type of career path and ended up on the manufacturing side and the manufacturing world works for a company for a little over 12 years. And there I got to do a lot of different things really anything from shipping all the way to sales and customer service account management and then did a lot of time on the operations and production side as well. I got to do a lot of different things there.
So then you left that company and came to Speech Privacy and really just the sales role was we didn’t give you the opportunity to do every job here at the company. And, but you’ve had success and you really hit the ground running. It did a great job for us. You’ve been here for almost two years now, correct? (Jeff: Almost two years. Hard to believe.) Yes. I mean you’re now one of the more senior salespeople we have.
Can you tell me a little bit, how was that experience with doing all those different jobs in a manufacturing plant and with a manufacturing company? Has that helped you here at the sale, in your sales role at Speech Privacy?
It absolutely has Andy. You know, being an account manager or even being in a sales role, you do have to wear a lot of hats and you have to be able to see a lot of different sides of the business and understand how all of these things tie together and I think it’s been huge. It’s been really good.
Has there been anything else that would say has been kind of your recipe for success?
Yeah. You know, really when I think about that, there are three basic things that I look at to boil it down. You know, to me it really comes down to behavior, attitude, and technique, you know. So one of the things I really want to be aware of is what are the key behaviors that I need to be doing on a daily basis just to ensure that I’m doing the right things with my time. It can be really easy sometimes to get distracted by every little thing, you know? So really looking at that and then attitude, just ensuring that I have a healthy attitude, you know, about myself, the company even the marketplace and competition and things like that. I do a lot of journaling to help with that. And then the last thing is technique, spent a lot of time, you know, just working on getting better and you know, getting better at the overall technique and just the craft and everything that goes into those are really the three big things that I do on a daily basis.
I completely agree with you. And a lot of people may not know this about you or about us, that Speech Privacy. I did a post a couple of weeks ago on Linkedin about how we were doing some role-playing as a sales team. We do that several times a week. And that’s really kind of been something that you’ve helped lead the last year or so has been consistent role-playing. So you’re talking about those techniques. That’s where a lot of that stuff gets practiced and it’s a daily thing for us around here. And so that, yeah, that’s a really great way that you described that.
How else would you describe yourself? Maybe as just a person, how would you describe yourself?
I’m extremely hardworking. Sometimes to a fault. Sometimes I don’t know when to stop working, but also dedicated and then the other big thing is thoughtful. You know, I’m constantly thinking of others and thinking of ways to make things better and to improve.
I can attest to that. Yes. So when Jeff and I worked together in sales, we’re both, we have similar personalities in some way. And so that thoughtfulness, you know, he would always come to me and he’d share like, you know, hey have we ever thought about maybe doing something like this or you know just well you always had a broader vision of what was going on instead of just, I have this sale, I need to sell it. And so, of course, we all need to make sales to make a living around here when you’re in sales, but at the same time, having that more long-range perspective, I think has made you successful. And it just makes you much easier to work around and work with, I think, because your focus is on the bigger picture. So let’s apply some of this stuff to dealers and reps.
How can dealers and reps work best with you? What are some of the things if you could share it with them?
Yeah, I love this question here. You know, the reps and dealers that I best with, they understand, you know, that for me, I’m really interested in the overall partnership and you know, I’m looking to create win-wins. It’s not all about me and you know, I want to find solutions that are effective for you and for your clients as well. And you know, so they really value me as a resource. Somebody that can come in and even step back and just to look again for what is that win-win going to be.
Okay. And so we’re going to get into some success stories which I’m sure we’ll share some of those win-wins there. What else would you want? Or maybe what do you want your reps and dealers to know about you? Maybe it made it a little bit more a different answer than what? How can they work with you?
Yeah, I strive for the dealers and reps just to make it easy, make it fun and then at the end of the day, make you look good. I want to help you stand out from your competition and in front of your customers as well.
Do you believe that that’s a contrast to what a lot of the manufacturer reps out there and salespeople may be at other manufacturers that they work with? Do you believe that’s what makes you different?
Yeah. You know, we do get a lot of feedback on what the experience can be like for dealers and reps and you know, that’s constantly at the forefront of our minds. Just how can we be something different and be able to be a breath of fresh air to our partners.
Excellent. I like how you said that a breath of fresh air. So we’re going to leave it at that because I think that’s a good way to end what you want the people you work with to be feeling and thinking when they work with you. So let’s move into the success stories because I don’t want to take up too much time, but there’s so much we could talk about here and I’m sure we’re going to do other episodes about success stories because that’s the fun thing about sales is there are constantly new success stories that we get to talk about. We might even have an episode about disaster stories. I don’t know those pile up at times too so but today we’re talking success, not a disaster. So let’s start with what everybody knows is as a sound masking company, you know. We’ve been spending a lot of time trying to get the word out about our Acoustical Ecoprivacy panel product and applications. And of course, we’re going to talk about some success stories there. I think a lot of our dealers and reps need to hear some of those success stories. It’s a kind of a new product for us. But let’s start with sound masking because a lot of people struggle with how to really position this to an end-user. How to really make believers of the solution and what we know is that when people get this done right, they become believers in it, right? They don’t move to space without it after that in the vast majority of scenarios.
So maybe give us a story of a time where we did a demo or install the system and then once that was done, the client just became a champion of sound masking in general or Speech Privacy, a company. Do you have any stories?
Yeah, I’m thinking of, you know, it was actually a new dealer. They hadn’t actually sold sound masking before, but they had a client that was asking a lot of questions about privacy and they were working on this new space and they really wanted to do it right. So they were open-minded. They came to the dealer who hadn’t sold sound masking before either and they wanted to know how it’s going to work. They had a lot of questions and you know, in those early stages we set up a time for them to come out and view an existing project that had our system in it. We did a demo in their current facility and they were still really struggling with how well is this all going to work, you know, as kind of a long drawn out process with construction and all of that. But they made the decision to do it right, very diverse space. They had some open office and some private offices and meeting rooms and we put sound masking throughout the space and then they actually moved in last October. They even invited us to come down for the ribbon-cutting ceremony and they loved the sound masking so much that they can’t help but talk about it. It’s part of their spill when people come in to tour the new space, you know, this state of the art sound masking system that’s really helping with their privacy issues and distractions. It was really a fun project.
And we have a lot of stories like that. I mean, you can tell them all day. It would just be the same story over and over, wouldn’t it? (Jeff: It would. ) Yeah. I mean, that seems to be the case when people really get to experience it, especially for themselves like their own space. They implement it and especially at the before and after. It’s like this was unusable and now it’s just everything that we needed it to be. Those stories help our dealers immensely because like you said, a brand new dealer had never sold anything yet and their first opportunity was we took somebody who was a little bit skeptical and made them a believer.
What did that do to the dealer as far as making them a believer, you know, that it had to have made them much more confident in talking about these solutions to other clients?
Absolutely did. And you know, one of the things the dealer actually came back to us and said is that it has enhanced the overall furniture buying experience for their client.
Which when you’re a furniture dealer that’s what you really want to hear. So that’s exciting. You know, an interesting story though that I know you can share with us is not everybody likes or uses sound masking. It’s pretty rare to find somebody that doesn’t like sound masking wants to have it in their space, but it has happened. One of the things as a company, you know, we’ve been a sound masking company for so long so if you ever ran into one of those people that it just wasn’t a good fit or didn’t quite get them where they needed to be acoustically or environmentally. We didn’t have a whole lot of options there. And so one of the exciting things about us as a company is we’re able to change that perspective. We are now not just a sound masking company but we can do total office acoustics. And I know you’ve got an example of a story where somebody didn’t actually care for sound masking. Luckily we didn’t do it. So we can just blame our competitors and say they did it wrong or poorly.
Why don’t you share with us that story? Cause I think that’s a pretty helpful one for everybody here.
Yeah. Another, so the dealer actually brought this client to us. The dealer was a little bit, I guess, confused as the best way to put it. They had sound masking in their space, as Andy said, a competitor system. And they had had it for a few years and they actually turned the sound masking off. But they didn’t give up their mission. They were really looking for a different type of solution and they weren’t sure exactly what it was or where to go. And so the dealer came to us basically saying, not sure what to do here or if you guys get help. And then we began a discovery process with the client just to really gauge what their true concerns were what they were wanting to do with space overall. And even thinking outside of the box acoustically and looking at aesthetics and, you know, thinking about their culture and their branding and imaging, all of those different things. And we actually were able to install some custom panels. We use company colors and incorporated their trademark design to create a multifaceted solution that helped them reduce noise. And but also added just that great visual appeal that they’re looking for happens to be a worldwide client. And you know, this is something that has worked so well that they’re looking at rolling it out in offices all over the US and Canada and even some other.
That’s fantastic. What was the design that you mentioned was pretty cool because they took a letter? Basically, their logo is a letter from their name, you know, and it’s like a cursive letter. I don’t even remember what letter it is. But it’s pretty unique looking and they managed to turn that into an architectural design element were sure it was just a pattern but it was that letter, that logo in a really cool pattern and then putting it together and custom wall panels. I mean it’s just really cool and the fact that they had a hand in a kind of helping us come up with that and driving that was pretty neat. It was a fun one. And what’s so exciting about that is just a few years ago that client, you know, the dealer would have brought us in and we would have basically turned to them away in a professional nice way but we wouldn’t have been able to help them and it would have been, you already have sound masking if you don’t like that, we could redo it. But you know, that’s an expensive endeavour for maybe not you like it. And so being able to take care of a customer like that is pretty exciting for us because it gave you an opportunity to build some really exciting and you know, we’re in the business of solving problems for people. So one of our main solutions was not the solution for them, it’s pretty exciting that we had another option we could do that actually made them head over heels excited for what we can do. That’s pretty, that’s always fun. So a couple of other things that we’ve seen with the acoustic panels, you know, some different applications. One of the things that keep coming up with a lot of our furniture dealers is visual privacy. So we do acoustic privacy, but then being able to come into space where people have wide-open spaces, not a lot of walls, maybe lower panel workstations and creating some visual privacy as well as a lot of glass wall areas. You know, they look cool, but then when you actually get down to having meetings and trying to utilize the space, when you see every movement across the whole space it can be somewhat distracting.
So can you explain a little bit more what I mean by visual privacy and then, you know, tell us a story about a time that you were able to help somebody with that.
Yeah, so thinking of another project here, the dealer actually brought the customer to us and there was a little bit of a concern about acoustics. You know, as Andy said, a glass-walled conference room. I think this particular one had three glass walls. So obviously you’re going to get some echo and something like that. But then also they began to notice that in this really nice space that was very well done that anytime somebody walked by the conference room that the meeting kind of paused for about 10 seconds so that everybody could look, you know, kinda rubberneck and see who just walked down the hall. And it was really impacting just not only the performance of those meetings but the productiveness and it’s really taken a lot of ways there. So they actually, again, custom-designed some panels to, well I take that back. They went with one of our standard designs and then we did a little bit of custom mentioning and we covered the main wall in a way that you still had the light and some of the visibility, but we added some, a little bit more privacy screen in there just to keep the people a little more focused on what they were in that room to do. And again, it was another really good successful project.
And it was one of those things where it wasn’t necessarily something that we have thought about original surely that our products solve those problems. It was one of those things where a dealer brought a client to us with a problem and you were just listening and trying to really dig down to what’s their pain points, what’s their real issue here? And then we came up with a solution to it and it wasn’t something that is in our marketing material or was officially stated as a solution. So it was an Aha moment for us cause it was like, oh well there’s a whole lot of need people to have more visual privacy in their space. And our products can dual purpose, they can do that and add acoustical absorption to space. But a lot of people do just call us straight up and say, my client or the client call us directly and say, we have a problem. It’s echoey, it’s noisy. You know, we’ve got this presentation training room area. And it just echoes and reverberates all over the place and it’s very unusable. And we get those off them to bigger challenge because first, we have to mathematically solve the problem from an acoustic standpoint. But then, of course, they care about the visual side of it. So it’s multifaceted, we’ll call it a headache on the sales side, right? Because it’s not as easy as here’s your solution, let me get your quote for it.
But tell me something, maybe a story about a time where we were able to help that. I shared a story a few episodes ago about that in a break room but you’ve been solving unique problems for people recently. So give me one of those examples.
So the modern workplace, we all know it’s a very diverse place. We had a client here, a very high-end type client and they reached out to us with a very unique high-end, I guess presentation room would be the way to describe it where investors gather and you know, also company partners and executives gathered weekly for a high-end weekly meeting where the CEO is basically on a stage and he’s giving a presentation and he’s talking about a lot of different things. And you know, the CEO of this large company was very frustrated because if you’ve ever done any public speaking knowing that echo and hearing yourself talk can be extremely distracting and that was his complaint. Unfortunately, it was to the point where he was ready to cancel all of the meetings until they could resolve the issue and asked us to come in and take a look. What I really enjoyed about this one is we actually installed the solution, the acoustic panels in a way that minimizes their impact on the space. So it wasn’t a front and center type solution here. It was almost something that just blended in with the environment.
So the last, the last two examples were custom high design pieces that stood out. And this was, we wanted to match the wall color and make it (Jeff: as minimal as possible) and noticeable. Yeah. So we solved their problem and made it so it wasn’t really adding anything to space.
Yeah. And they actually had their first meeting this weekend. They’re with the new acoustic panels installed and rave reviews from a top-down from the CEO all the way down to the project managers and everybody that was tasked with finding the solution.
That is fantastic. We love stories like that, of course. You know, so we’ve been given a couple of examples here of people with echo on a stage that has issues, people with visual issues where the glass walls, they could just see everything. Acoustical challenges where sound masking wasn’t the right fit for somebody and we came up with a custom acoustical solution for them.
Have you noticed any other areas or problems that we’ve been solving that maybe are a little bit more surprising of the application?
Yeah, I think it’s a little ironic, Andy that we’re doing a podcast here because we’ve actually had several companies reach out to us here in the last a little while to help us provide the best solution for their podcast rooms. Doing a podcast like this, you know, everybody’s concerned about how’s it going to sound. They want to present it in a professional way and distractions, echo, reverberation, all of those things can be an issue. So we’re coming in again and looking at the entire acoustic solution for this podcast room and looking at how all of these things are even going to play into some of the audiovisual equipment that is being used to perform the podcast. And so with one specific client that I’m thinking of, we’re doing everything, a full turnkey solution with wall panels. We’re doing some soundproofing in the ceiling, the doors just to be sure that nothing from external areas or any kind of noise or echo would be a distraction or take away from the quality of those podcasts.
Yeah. So we’re doing broader than just acoustic panels. So we’ve stepped into a realm of soundproofing some here. So we’re, you know, some heavy vinyl on top of the tiles in the ceiling, some things around the door, like all those different things that we weren’t necessarily, isn’t something we had necessarily done in the past. But because again you had a client that has a specific problem, we’ve got enough connections and partnerships with different people. You were able to put together a full solution and you’ve actually so that one’s done or is in the process of being done. We’ve got a few others that we’re kind of on the front design side, you know, quoting, trying to win those sales. But as well, but it sounds like something kind of unique area for our reps and dealers out there, podcasts rooms, podcast areas. And we’re also probably going to easily make a podcast screen so someone can set up a little divider on a desk and create a mini-podcast room, right. So just a lot of different ways that our solutions can help a lot of different people in a lot of different ways. So pretty exciting. So one of the things, once we get this one finished and they move in we’re taking our mics over there and we’re definitely we’re going to force our way into that podcast room and doing podcasts in there just because but that’s exciting. You know we’ve got so many more success stories, but I hope that these kinds of hit the range. Some of the things we’ve been able to do and see. And you know, honestly, there are other success stories out there that our reps and dealers have that they probably know more about the ins and outs of those stories. So we’d love to have you guys share with us anything, the feedback you hear from customers, interesting things that happen. The more we know we can share them with everybody. Because the more we can share these best practices across the country, the more they’re going to be applied and utilized.
So let’s shift back into personal, but now not personal as it relates to work. Just kinda about Jeff a little bit questions I’ve asked everybody so far. When you’re not at work when you’re not at Speech Privacy, what is your favorite thing to do?
Well, outside of the normal, I’ve got a great family. For me, it’s all about the Friday night lights and so that means Texas high school football. If you were to ask me what my happy place is, then it’s going to involve Friday night Texas high school football. (Andy: Which is, what town is yours?) So I am in the city of Sherman and we are the Sherman Bear Cats. It’s been rough the last few years. A lot of good history there. But yeah, no place I’d rather be than Bear Cat Stadium at 7 o’clock on Friday night.
And just for everybody who’s not from Texas, it’s Friday night lights is crazy here. But the interesting thing about the Sherman Bear Cats is, they’re still one of the more old school facilities. So they have kind of an older stadium. It’s still grass, isn’t it? (Jeff: It’s grass.) So like around here, that’s very rare because grass doesn’t grow well anyways. So everybody’s gone to that field turf, but Sherman’s not, they’ve got still really nice classic football field and it’s a pretty exciting place to play around here because it’s so unique instead of these big $60 million stadiums that some of the schools have, it’s kind of back to basics. So if you’re from the Dallas area, it’s a pretty exciting place to go play and the refs are all hometown. I never get a good call
Well, and I’m not gonna lie, went back in Andy’s former life before we even knew each other. I was at a game where he was actually coaching on the other sideline and pretty sure we pulled out the W that night.
Yeah, but you guys cheated. So I distinctly remember that was not a fair fight. But anyway, it was a, yeah, it’s fantastic, that’s exciting.
And then, my last question for you, if you had all the money in the world and could do anything you want to do, what would it be?
I’ve got an extensive bucket list. This one may be surprising though. One of my big goals is to through-hike the Appalachian Trail. Okay. So basically the Appalachian trail starts in Georgia and ends in Maine. Okay. You’re talking 14 states, 2100 miles takes the average through hiker about six months to complete the journey. (Andy: You don’t need that much money. You just need time then) just need time. And you know, I can be somewhat of an introvert at times and just the thought of six months on my own in nature is really appealing to me.
So if you call Jeff and quote and you hear some thumping in the grass and he sounds like he’s outside and breathing hard because he’s walking up a hill, he’s decided to go ahead and move the bucket list there. So, but you know, with today’s day and age, he can still get your quote down, jump on a Webinar, no problems. (Jeff: That’s right.) Anyways, well, thanks so much for being here, Jeff. And again, as always, please subscribe to our podcast. If you have any requests, anything that you want to hear us talk about or discuss in upcoming episodes, please share that with your folks. And as always we just appreciate everybody out there. Thanks.