Employee-Owner Profiles is a new feature that will highlight 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.
Rich Gaffney loved to play with Legos as a kid, and he wanted to be a machinist like his dad or an architect like Mike Brady from The Brady Bunch. He liked the idea of building something with his hands that would last a long time.
While working toward a degree in mechanical engineering from Northwestern Technical University in Minnesota, he started his career as an auto mechanic at a tire store. It turned out he not only had a head for working with his hands, but he had excellent people skills, too. He enjoyed fixing problems with honesty and integrity, and he even built small models to illustrate to customers how he was going to fix their car.
That unique combination of expertise led him to Sentry Equipment in 2005, and he’s now the Global Sales Director overseeing all sales staff and customers in more than 50 countries across six continents.
He says that one of the most remarkable aspects of working at Sentry is the employee ownership, which gives his entire team a common goal: Get the job done for the customer.
“Our customers are getting a true relationship with a supplier,” he says. “They’re not just getting goods. They’re getting a complete experience with every person who works here, from the corner office to the shipper.”
Collaboration for the customer
With 20-plus years of experience in the sampling industry, Gaffney has worked with many client companies to help them solve their sampling, monitoring and measurement needs. His career has been focused on sales and application engineering, and he passionately believes that taking the time to fully understand customers’ goals is the key to successful relationships. He believes in making every customer a commitment, and communication drives his success.
All regional sales staff reports to Gaffney and he directly manages 13 external customers. He spends most of his time in front of customers, building relationships in power plants, the food and beverage industry, and petrochemical industry. “I’m always working to be proactive with customers to offer them even more value from my team,” he says.
Behind the scenes, he communicates with outside sales reps, coaches and mentors his team, and answers technical questions. “I’m always asking my team, ‘How can I help? How can I help you get to your goal?’” he says. “It’s all about collaboration for our customers.”
VP of commercial operations
Three things he’d take on a deserted island: “My phone, my family and my boat.”
Favorite movies: “Comedies. My favorite actors are Vince Vaughan and Adam Sandler.”
Did he know how to pronounce Oconomowoc before working at Sentry Equipment? “I had no idea where it was or how to pronounce it.”
Ready, willing and able
Outside of work, he enjoys classic Wisconsin Friday night fish fries with his girlfriend, Jenny, and his 14-year old son and 17-year-old daughter. He loves to travel to the Caribbean in the winter, but thoroughly enjoys boating, fishing and camping during the beautiful Wisconsin summers. If he’s indoors, he’s brushing up on his home improvement skills with HGTV’s hit shows Fixer Upper and Property Brothers.
His passion for well-crafted products extends to microbrews, and he recently visited 15 craft breweries across the country. His favorites? Surly Brewing Co. in Minneapolis and Green Man in Asheville, NC. The science and art of making a good beer pique his interest, but it’s the entrepreneurship behind the business that speaks to the core of his career with Sentry Equipment.
Gaffney says that being an employee-owner makes him invested in the long-term growth and success of the company, with accountability and ownership that goes beyond a paycheck. “I want to leave this company in a better spot than when I started,” he says. “I feel emotionally and financially tied to the business as if it’s my own.”
He’s been instrumental in the Cobra Sampler acquisition and the development of the Houston-based Process Management Tech Center, where he expects the Sentry Equipment culture to bring a new level of service to Gulf Coast customers.
“Employee engagement is special to Sentry,” he says. “We’re working with and for the customer with an all-in attitude to get the job done. Our entire organization is ready, willing and able to serve our customers.”
Update: As of April 2019, Rich has been promoted to VP of Commercial Operations. His new, expanded role is giving him the opportunity to be even more heavily involved with the growth and success of the company.