AutomationDirect.com: Q&A with Leisa Cudworth in product management

Portrait of Leisa Cudworth at AutomationDirect.com in Cumming on JJanuary 31st, 2017.  AutomationDirect.com is the medium employer AJC Top Workplace winner. (Photo by Phil Skinner)

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Portrait of Leisa Cudworth at AutomationDirect.com in Cumming on JJanuary 31st, 2017. AutomationDirect.com is the medium employer AJC Top Workplace winner. (Photo by Phil Skinner)

More than 2,500 companies were nominated or asked to participate in the 2017 Top Workplaces contest by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and its partner, Workplace Dynamics. Employees across the metro area responded to print and online solicitations that began appearing in September. 

Using survey results, a list of 150 workplaces was compiled, consisting of 25 large companies50 midsize companies and 75 small companiesAutomationDirect.com was the top midsize workplace. 

Leisa Cudworth often uses her lunch hour to exercise. It’s easy for her to work up a sweat since AutomationDirect.com has onsite exercise programs and facilities.

“You get to do it at lunch or different times (of the day), so when evening comes, you get to go home to your family,” she said.

Cudworth, who has worked her way from inside sales to managing all of the company’s new product launches since she joined the company in 1995, discussed why she and other employees love working at the Cumming-based industrial automation products distributor.

Q: How does the company make you feel valued?

A: They do so in many ways. You can earn a great salary and excellent benefits. They have provided the tools necessary to perform my job to the best of my abilities. They value my opinions. They listen. They care about my well being. They want me to be successful.

Q: What did you think about the company when you started?

A: I knew it was a startup company, and their line of products was totally unfamiliar to me. I was ready for a challenge and PLCDirect (the former name) interested me tremendously. My gut told me to go for it if they offered me the job. And when they did, I knew I was doing the right thing. I was the 16th team member of the company and everyone made me feel welcomed. My focus was to provide great customer service and learn the product. Everyone there was an example for me to follow.

Q: How have the people here encouraged you to move up and into different positions in the company?

A: From the very beginning, I had a really great team captain in sales. She gave me opportunities to become the trainer for sales and write procedures and things like that. The team captain of tech, he said, "Come over. Come help us implement this." (I had) great support from the team leads when I did that. They're just always out there saying, "Do you want to try this? I'll support you every step of the way." And they're great to go and talk to and get guidance.

Q: How does AutomationDirect.com encourage you to grow as a person?

A: They want you to grow. We went on a (team-building ropes course) back in 1995. The thing was to put yourself in a "uncomfort zone." That's what we called it. We did it. It was really hard, but you realize it kind of solidified the trust in everyone in the company at that time. I learned that if I was ever going to put myself in my "uncomfort zone" and take a step out, somewhere I didn't feel comfortable, I knew I could do it here. And I knew I didn't have to fear doing it here.

Q: Has the company culture changed since you have been here? If so, in what ways?

A: It has evolved. In 1995, we studied and implemented Customer Driven Leadership (CDL). We set goals and behaviors for all to follow. We knew what we were to accomplish and how to go about doing it together. It has served us well. As the company grew, we experienced challenges to our culture that we addressed by creating internal customer service surveys. Our surveys were based upon factual data versus interpretations. This helped us keep our focus and we continued on an upward growth trend.

Q: How have people in the company showed you they care about your personal and professional welfare?

A: Personally, they are my second family. They celebrated my marriage almost 20 years ago. They have cared for my family and when we went though health issues. And they took me under their wing when I lost both my parents in a span of two months. Professionally, I feel they have given me opportunities that I never thought I would ever have. They have given me confidence and helped me grow in self-esteem. I also learned it's OK to step out of my comfort zone. I know they are there to support and guide me, no matter what.

Q: How has working at AutomationDirect.com challenged you?

A: Oh wow! I have been challenged since the beginning. First, handling sales for a product that I had to learn and understand. From there, handling the growth of our sales and keeping our promise to provide the best customer service in our industry. I have had the time of my life. I am blessed that my company had faith in me. It has meant the world to me.