Designer Mike Gary gives us an inside look at his work as a product engineer, a role he describes as: “part conductor, part consultant and part magician.”
Tell us something about yourself
I joined Trelleborg in 1993 and I work as a product engineer for Trelleborg Sealing profiles in Cleveland, U.S.
How would you describe your role?
My primary focus is on the design and application of rubber and plastic profile seals for the window, door, standard curtain wall system and custom facade markets. I am part of a great team whose main goal is to help identify customer needs, problems and requirements and drive them to our carefully thought-out solution.
What kind of tasks do you have in an average day?
I might consider myself the technical conscious of the group. My day is spent reviewing details, offering technical solutions and advising customers on potential opportunities to simplify complicated situations. In doing this we develop on average about 20 new rubber and plastic dies per week. I am responsible for making sure we define the parameters of those parts in terms that our die technicians and operators can execute, usually with a very tight deadline in order to meet a mock-up schedule. This will of course lead to a commercial opportunity, which is our main mission.
How would you define your role as a designer?
Part conductor, part consultant and part magician.
How do you help customers?
Firstly, our help is based on over 25 years of being around rubber manufacturing and around window and facade systems. We have a very good understanding of what our customers are trying to accomplish, what challenges they face and how we can assist them. We have an excellent base of core customers that understand the value we bring, so we are constantly receiving inquiries for design assistance and review from customers throughout North America and other parts of the world.
Which projects have been particular highlights?
We have been involved in many interesting projects throughout the world. From the Trump Tower in Chicago, one of the tallest buildings in North America, to the Orange County Performing Arts Center in California, a jewel box of a facade. We have worked with facade manufacturers in China, Bahrain, Dubai and Saudi Arabia, as well as with the famed architect Renzo Piano on the Intesa San Paolo in Italy.
What is the most interesting aspect of your work?
I would say, solving design problems in a way that increases performance without adding unnecessary cost. We are challenged to develop about 20 new parts a week. That is very high demand, so we try to make our approach as straight forward a possible. The best part though is when we participate in a mock-up and you are there to see your solutions perform successfully under difficult test conditions. Customers appreciate that too.
After so many years with Trelleborg, do you still find the job stimulating?
I still get a great deal of satisfaction out of seeing a project go from design, into production and ultimately completed. I enjoy the challenge of working with new facade designers and companies. I enjoy the relationships that we have developed over the years, and I like being busy. And there are always new challenges. Current design trends are challenging the limits of materials and geometry. This creates new challenges for seals. We are also dealing with other challenges like security, blast impact, ever-changing thermal requirements and sustainability. We are constantly looking at new materials to meet these challenges.
What do you do in your free time?
You mean, besides inspecting gaskets on every building I walk into? I like to “get out”, whether it’s going to a park to hike around, a new restaurant or a new city but mostly I like to play golf – a lot.