The first thing that you need to know about Doris Swartz is that she is the Queen of Miamisburg, Ohio — and she has a sign to prove it. The second thing you need to know about Doris is that she’s spent the entirety of her fifty-year career in the metrology space, nearly all of it with what has evolved to be called Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence. For a farm girl from Ohio, it’s been quite a journey from her family’s small farm in the Midwest to the forefront of advanced manufacturing in the United States.
Doris started her career in 1966, reporting to work at the Sheffield Gauge Corporation as a file clerk. In the early days of her career, she worked in an administrative role, advancing to the position of secretary. Even in those first few years of her professional career, the metrology industry was a hotbed of mergers and acquisitions. Fairly early on, the Sheffield organization was merged into the Bendix Corporation —over the years, the list of acquisitions is dizzying, up to the current day — despite all the changes, Swartz soldiered on, surviving each merger and adapting to the new corporate culture. “Sheffield and Advanced Metrology Solutions were good to me,” Swartz said, “and Hexagon Metrology has been great to me.”
In 1984, after nearly twenty years of service, Doris got her big break. Her boss at Sheffield, Jim White, approached her and asked if she would like to train to become an Applications Engineer. “I was scared to go into the AE world…scared but excited to venture into unchartered territory,” Swartz remembers. Vaulting from a traditional female role to the predominantly male dominated metrology engineering space in the 1980s was very unusual. While Doris’ natural abilities made her a prime candidate for the role, she did not have an engineering background. Educated in bookkeeping, she lacked any formal engineering training whatsoever. In order to rectify this, she took college algebra and trigonometry classes (very few women took STEM classes in those days), learned to read blueprints, and listened intently to her mentors and colleagues so she could get up to speed for the new role. As Jim White’s widow, Susie White recalled, “She was not afraid, and Jim was very proud and confident to send her into customer plants because she KNEW what she was talking about.”
Her expertise was quickly tested. Soon after accepting the AE position, Swartz was scheduled to attend the Quality Show at the Chicago O’Hare Rosemont Center, one of the biggest shows in the industry at that time. Her manager scheduled her to operate a manual machine as a booth presenter. "I was the token woman going to a trade show with all men trying to sell coordinate measurement machines," Swartz recalls. Right away, Swartz knew this was going to be a pivotal moment in her career. Preparation was key: she took a fellow AE to a demonstration room and had him give her a detailed demo of what she was expected to deliver at the show. Using a tape recorder, Doris recorded every minute of the demo and then drafted a script based on what she had learned. From there, she memorized the script and practiced on the machine. After all that preparation, the demo at the show went smoothly, and she learned to deliver a customer demonstration using this method.
From that day forward, Doris developed her own mantra about how to be an effective AE: I know what I know, and I know what I don't know: never lie to yourself. She learned to leverage the expertise of her team members and to always keep learning about the technology and their best practices. Due to her levelheaded approach and honesty, customers trusted Doris. They knew that when she told them something, they could take that to the bank. And if she didn’t know something they needed information about, she would use her network of colleagues to get the answer they required. “My secret to survival was creating a rapport with factory, customers, and salespeople,” Swartz says. Working at Sheffield was a big help in maintaining industry contacts because the company was where many people in the industry learned their trade. Those early friendships are relationships that Doris has maintained to this current day.
Being a pioneer in an industry is not easy. Many times, Doris would look around a room and she would be the only woman in a meeting. As such, she faced some challenges that her male colleagues did not. In those early years of being an AE, she had one customer that simply would not speak to her, or acknowledge her presence. She asked her boss to be taken off the account, but he refused. He told her firmly that she was going to manage this account, “whether he likes you or not”. The awkward relationship continued until one day a colleague asked her about how her weekend fishing trip went. The client overheard the conversation and started asking Doris about fishing, and it turned out that he was a passionate angler himself. From that day forward, they were close friends. “I encountered some strange situations in the early days, but I was always aware of what an amazing opportunity I had as an AE,” Swartz says. In addition to being an early trailblazer in the metrology industry, Doris has witnessed massive changes in technology over the past 50 years. The advent of pervasive computing is perhaps the biggest. When she started working as an AE, software did not perform calculations, so calculating angles were the responsibility of the engineer. Now, the software is so powerful that we are at the early stages of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Even so, Doris has never been too comfortable with computers. “I like a piece of paper,” Swartz says, “computers provide too much information, and I am a little phobic of hitting buttons that I don’t know what they are going to do.” In 2003, Doris was laid off as a result of an acquisition. She was able to get some contract work for Thyssen-Krupp, which she did for a while. Soon she was back in the metrology world, working for Advanced Metrology Services, a Sheffield distributor. When Sheffield was acquired in 2004, she became part of the Hexagon Metrology family. At that time, she started thinking about retirement. Swartz is passionate about working on her “hobby farm”, where she has a large flower and vegetable garden. As a native Ohio resident, she is also an ardent Buckeyes fan, and follows the Boise State football team, too. She loves fishing in local lakes and ponds, and is a skilled trap shooter, too. She credits her work ethic with her early years growing up on a small farm. Her family depended on each of the children to operate the farm, and she took those values to her professional career. "I’m proud of my record, but it just means I am a really old person," Swartz laughs.
After a long service record with Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, Swartz announced her plans to retire in March, 2016. Her manager had enabled her to work a 4-day schedule for the past few years, but she had been questioning when she would be ready to stop working her day job over that time. Having served a half-century in the business, Doris has earned her retirement, and will be missed. She is looking forward to more fishing trips, traveling to college football games, and expanding her gardening hobby (Predators looking to raid her garden should be warned that she is a crack shot and does not cotton to having her hard won produce poached!).
Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence would like to thank Doris for her invaluable contribution to the company, and to wish her a happy and fulfilling retirement. Thank you!
So what’s the third thing you need to know about Doris Swartz? Do not park in her parking spot at the Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence Solution Center in Miamisburg, OH. She will be nice about it, but make no mistake, she will tell you firmly to move your vehicle. After all, she’s earned it. Having spent fifty years in the fast-changing metrology world, Doris is a true pioneer of industry.
Doris and the team at the Miamisburg, OH Solution Center
Colleagues Reminisce on a Job Well Done
Joe Zink, Product Owner CAD, Wilcox Associates - Doris is “The Queen” of Miamisburg. To expand on that idea, she makes sure that everything in the office is right when a customer comes in – the coffee is made, the signs are correct, the pop and snacks are ready, the meeting rooms are set up and ready when needed. Although she is a technically strong AE, she is also an “in charge” and organized person. She has no problem setting employees on the right path when they’ve deviated from what is expected of them. Don’t get caught leaving the coffee pot on overnight! Expanding on her organizational skills, she can organize an open house for 100 customers, organize a sales meeting for the entire sales team from our region, as well as organize monthly birthday parties for the office employees.
To give you an idea how much customers love the support that Doris provides them, in 2005, we decided to phase out the MeasureMax product and transition our customers to our more modern software. Ten plus years later, customers are calling Doris and asking her for MeasureMax support. She frequently still teaches MeasureMax classes.
Doris contributes so much to the Miamisburg office that I don’t think we yet realize the impact she has on us, and our daily activities, until after her retirement date. We will really miss her.
Lester Glover, VP Key Account Business Development NA, Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence - I joined Sheffield in 1985, but it was when I went into sales a few years after that I started working closely with Doris. I was the lone employee in Tennessee; no office, no database, no computer, just a car and a manufacturer’s directory. Doris was my AE and she would come down from Dayton and we would hit the road, traveling anywhere a customer would talk to us.
Once we sold a few machines, we would use that customer machine to demo for other customers. The host customer was glad to help out in this way because Doris would give them extra on-site training. Doris being a female Apps Engineer in those days was unique, to say the least, unlike now. Doris was indeed a trail blazer for many ladies to follow in this profession. She was an outstanding people person, so she could win anyone over; but then the customer learned she was a great AE and knew her stuff, so we had a very loyal customer base.
Years later, when I managed the Sheffield distributor, AMS, where Doris was employed, Sheffield customers from the past would only buy through AMS because they wanted Doris involved in the transaction, training or whatever.
From those early days when we worked together all the way until now, she comes to work with a smile, a can-do attitude that is infectious and a pleasure to be around. She will be missed greatly and is an example for everyone to follow: never be diverted by what you want by obstacles, and do what you do with passion and excellence.
Andrew Scarella is the Digital Marketing Manager for Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence North America. He contributes to this blog as well as updates the North American website and provides content for the company social media channels including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.