One of the things Nathan Leonard loves about his job as a Director of International Sales is traveling the world and learning about other cultures. Even though his travel is now restricted due to COVID-19, he still gets to experience the world through his relationships around the globe.
Although he says there’s no “typical day” in his role, most mornings start with calls and meetings with our international partners in Asia-Pacific and South America. He then follows up with open opportunities and leads to help hone our approach. Many days end by coordinating with Sentry’s Head of International Sales to coordinate work on large scale projects across multiple countries. Additionally, he often works with teams on different applications within different industries, as well as supporting our continuous improvement efforts within the company.
“One day you may be in a flour mill and the next at an oil refinery,” he says. “This variety even extends to different cultures, as I get to work with people from very different backgrounds to make a far-reaching strategic impact.”
working towards a common goal
Sentry Equipment is a proud employee-owned company, where our employee-owners share in an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), which means we share in the benefits of our hard work, positive results and continual improvement and innovation. Sentry Equipment is completely employee owned because we believe that employee ownership makes a difference.
“I love working as part of an ESOP,” Nate says. “Everyone has a vested interest in our success and it creates a sense of belonging. We are all on the same mission.”
That shared mission shines through in the quality and durability of Sentry’s products. “I was surprised by how long our products have been in service. In fact, many of our products have been in service decades longer than our competitors have been in business!”, he says. “These products have often been working with no issues, well-beyond the life of associated components. We truly are a premium manufacturer.”
director of international sales
Three things he’d take on a deserted island: “Books to read, a sturdy wok, and a radio to listen to music. Hopefully, my wife and son would be there to keep me company!”
What does he do when he’s not working? ““I love to cook (did I say that yet?) and brew my own beer. I would also consider myself an avid reader. I love to garden, fish and collect vinyl records. But perhaps my most rewarding effort is working with the North Texas Board of Directors for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.”
If you could be or do anything else, what would it be? “I’m very happy with my role at Sentry Equipment and, in many ways, it has been my dream job. But if you asked me that question when I was younger, I might’ve said I would want to be a chef. I have a passion for cooking. I love visiting spice markets and food markets when I’m overseas. I believe that cooking is a universal language, and it can provide valuable insight into different cultures and customs.”
fostering strong relationships
Nate was always interested in science, which was a motivating factor when he decided to join the Navy, where he worked for six years maintaining and operating complex weapons systems and radars. At Sentry Equipment, he was recruited for an internationally-focused territory manager role. Because he had worked in many different industries around the world, this role was of particular interest to him.
In his current Director role, he enjoys mentoring young engineers and witnessing their excitement over Sentry products and applications. “The moment when all the potential applications and improvements ‘clicks’ with a new partner is one of the most rewarding facets of my job”, he says.
Right now, his biggest challenge is managing partnership channels appropriately and keeping communication clear, as many of Sentry’s international reps are spread over large territories and projects can be bid from many locations. Navigating meetings over multiple time zones and cultures can also present unique challenges.
“Our reps are an integral part of our market footprint internationally. They are the ears and eyes of the market,” he says. “They provide feedback and insight to local strategy and the needs of end-users.”
Despite these challenges - made only more difficult through COVID - he has been able to manage relationships while delivering on the company’s strategic objectives. “I want to continue cultivating relationships while learning and growing with the company,” he says. “This has helped remind me that we’re not alone, and the importance of personal relationships with our partners.”
He advises anyone new to the industry to “start with ‘why?’,” then be willing to listen and understand. “Never stop learning new things and always be prepared to question your assumptions. Never be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and see from a different perspective,” Nate advises.
For now, he is looking forward to traveling again after COVID-19 to cultivate partner relationships and ensure Sentry customers are getting exactly what they need. “There’s no substitute to in-person relationships, and I want to continue to work side-by-side with our partners,” he says. “Sentry Equipment is committed to providing the exact solution to meet the needs of the customer, every single time. The needs of the customer are never exactly the same, which is why it is so important that we listen and provide the correct solution for their unique needs.”
Employee-Owner Profiles is a regular feature that highlights members of our team. As an employee-owned company, Sentry Equipment believes that employee ownership makes a difference. Our employee-owners are dedicated to hard work, positive results and continual improvement and innovation to provide our customers the highest quality products and services.