December 2014

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52 | www.cedmag.com | Construction Equipment Distribution | December 2014 A Closer Look Bruce Taylor has worked with heavy construction equipment for over 25 years. His reason for getting into the business was pretty simple. He needed a job. In 1988, he was just out of the Air Force, married and with a young child. He had moved from his native Chicago to Phoenix, where winters call for air conditioning, and, in the pre-Internet searching days, he looked in the newspaper and answered a company's ad looking for a mechanic. That was his field in the military, so he got the job and started working on aerial lifts. Over the years, he moved into field service, followed co-workers to other companies, until he landed in Tulsa, Okla., in 2001 as the service manager for Kirby-Smith Machinery. In 2007, he became the branch manager, the position he still holds, where he's in charge of over 60 employees and a fleet that includes dozers, wheel loaders, haul trucks and cranes. Along with his career, Taylor found something else in Phoenix, something that's given him not only an outlet from the everyday grind but also another career someday when he's ready to step back from the equipment business. It's hypnotism. Taylor, 51, performs on stages around the Great Plains and practices as a licensed hypnotherapist, helping clients gain some understanding and mastery over a problem, be it quitting smoking, losing weight or managing pain. While his sideline isn't a secret to his colleagues, Taylor tries to keeps the two worlds separate. Still, he says, the two halves don't fight, as the skills for one can't but influence and help the other. When Personality and Job Meet Up The service end of the industry seemed like the right landing place for Taylor. As a Midwesterner, he says that he tends to be direct and unambiguous with his words, perfect for that department. The shop floor is not about slow deliberation or a constant stream of phone calls from happy people. The reality is something more like this: Stuff breaks and it needs to be fixed immediately before the next thing breaks. It's high stress, but Taylor didn't mind that environment. "I'm a problem solver," he said. Service puts a premium on being able to juggle many things and not being rattled when a day's plan is outdated before 9 a.m. That ability eventually got him promoted to Kirby-Smith's branch manager, where the entire operation of the office was under his control. The problem was that skill to do effective triage and emergency surgery wasn't necessarily an asset in his new position. At first, he defaulted to what had worked in the past. An employee would come to him with an issue, and he'd fix it. In the short-term, it was a decent plan, but he says that it wasn't a sustainable or particularly smart one, because, "They're in my office the next day with another problem. If I don't teach them, I'll be a very busy guy." Taylor says that the concept that he had to become more of a director/coach came somewhat early after his promo- tion. The transformation, though, didn't follow as quickly. He knew that he had quality people and he had to allow them to run their respective departments, but it wasn't until into his second year in charge that he was able to actually pull back and make the key change of listening more than he talked. He says that he already had that ability, but that his hypnotism background helped him with the transition and helped him become a better leader by giving him a focus and an appreciation for what came with his position. "My words have an effect on people," Taylor said. And so, he needed to show some care in their selection. Just like with his clients, the problems might be similar, but his employees have individual personalities and distinct ways of Meet Bruce Taylor, branch manager for Kirby-Smith and a guy with an unusual side-line. BY STEVE CALECHMAN Open to Suggestions

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