Electrical engineer finds decades-long fulfillment, challenge, and success at Johns Creek firm
Initially, the move to Atlanta was only going to be a temporary one. But upon graduating in 1983 from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a master’s degree in electrical engineering, Scott Means accepted a position with Nordson Corp. in Johns Creek.
More than three decades later, Means has found career advancement, fulfillment, and professional growth at Nordson, where he is currently a product manager.
“I was drawn to the size of the company,” he said of his decision to join Nordson after graduate school. “It was exciting to me that I could get involved in separate areas of the company, wear many different hats, and have a lot of impact, immediately.”
Means, who has been awarded five design patents at Nordson, is the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership’s (GaMEP) March Face of Manufacturing.
Manufacturing is second only to agriculture in terms of its impact on the Georgia economy. The sector, comprised of about 10,000 manufacturers, employs more than 365,000 and has a total economic manufacturing output of $53 billion per year. Means’ story and that of others in GaMEP’s “Faces” series, shows just how important the industry is — not only to the state as a whole, but also in the difference it makes in local communities and the lives of people who work in manufacturing.
At Nordson — a global manufacturer of dispensing equipment for consumer and industrial adhesives, sealants, and coatings — Means has held a number of different positions within the company, created new teams, and led departments.
“I get bored easily, so I knew I wanted to work at a company where I could get my hands on many different projects,” he said.
One of his first projects was to help develop an electrical engineering department. Though Nordson had a deep well of mechanical engineers, electrical engineers were a rarity. In fact, he was often referred to as “EE No. 3” because “I was the third electrical engineer hired at the company and I was able to help develop the department from the ground up.”
Four years after working to build the department, which was the supporting group for Nordson’s corporate offices and its other divisions, Means was tasked with leading the team. The team hit an important milestone when it fully developed its own control system — the Model 2300 — that Nordson was able to implement. “The Model 2300 allowed us to showcase our design capabilities, and we’ve been developing complete control systems in the electrical engineering group ever since.”
Following that success, Means was tapped to build a new electrical team to serve an entirely new market the company began pursuing, non-woven applications. “I learned a lot from starting a team, and it was energizing to be part of a new business venture that combined the disciplines of engineering, marketing, design, and research,” Means said.
After successfully building out the team, Means went back to the electrical engineering group. By then, his old group had grown to the point where there were as many electrical engineers as there were mechanical engineers in the company. Means also reached out to his alma mater and began to hire Georgia Tech students in Nordson’s co-op program, creating a talent pipeline between the Institute and the company.
Now, as product manager, he gets to mix his business skills and technical expertise, which serves him well when meeting the company’s global clients. He also continues to work in design engineering in the development of new ideas and innovations for the company.
As someone who thrives on new challenges, Means has bucked the prevailing trend of Americans in the workforce leaving one employer to obtain career advancement at another company.
“The notion of doing something new or different or having to learn is exciting to me,” Means said. “I just never imagined I could find all of that at one company.”
— Péralte C. Paul
About the Faces of Manufacturing
Each month, GaMEP will highlight a different person as the Face of Manufacturing. Those chosen as the Face of Manufacturing will be selected by a 12-member-committee composed of representatives from Georgia Tech, economic development groups, manufacturing companies, and related associations. For more information, please visit http://facesofmanufacturing.com.