The coronavirus pandemic prompted one pharmaceutical company to look for a new solvent tank for its COVID-19 vaccine.
Sales manager Rick Cluistra: “A little unorthodox, but always the best solution”
He likes to begin his day on time at around 7.15 and never without a strong cup of coffee. Rick Cluistra first joined Gpi in 2015 to work on his final-year project for an Industrial Engineering degree. He then went on to occupy a series of positions in the sales department. His current job as sales manager sees him in day-to-day charge of the Gpi Tanks sales team.
The sales department deals with all job requests and enquiries from customers. ‘Sending a quote is no mere formality. Right from the outset, we look at all the details carefully and regularly suggest improvements, for example, a more suitable tank for the customer or a similar product for a better price. Sometimes our approach can be a little unorthodox, but we always go for the best solution,’ explains Rick.
‘We deliver the full package’
As part of his managerial responsibilities, Rick monitors the planning process and supports 8 colleagues who are charged with drawing up quotations and answering customer’s questions: ‘We make sure we answer customers’ questions and they receive offers in time, and we’re always on hand to help them make their decision. We produce a complete offer. That means not only providing specifications for the tank itself, but many other aspects too, such as insulation, transport, installation and assembly in situ. To do this we have intensive contact with our suppliers regarding parts and services. We also visit and receive many customers, so they can witness our know-how at first-hand and appreciate we are doing our level best.’
The sales team also works with its own software programme, TankDesign, which enables Gpi to send technical drawings to the customer at an early stage. ‘We deliver the full package. It means our work is extremely diverse, but it’s also a challenge to send customers a comprehensive quotation within the set time frame.’
When asked how it was possible for Rick to advance so quickly, he replies: ‘The business has been expanding rapidly over the last few years, creating fantastic opportunities for growth. I have a technical background, listen carefully to customers’ needs and try to learn as much as I can from the people around me. We’re given a lot of freedom to develop, especially if you show initiative. Mistakes happen, but you learn from them and move on. Gpi has an open-minded business culture and it fits in well with me.’
‘We celebrate success together’
Rick describes his role as manager: ‘It gives me a lot of satisfaction. I like giving support to colleagues and enjoy the good atmosphere, especially when we land lucrative orders. We don’t work with personal targets, but celebrate success together’
He doesn’t mind the fact that his workload exceeds what’s normally expected of him. Two or three times a week he can be found after work in the Gpi sports school. ‘It’s the ideal way of clearing your head at the end of the day.’
In addition to his day-to-day work, Rick will be involved in Gpi’s expansion over the coming years: ‘Professionalisation of the company has been in full swing these last few years and I aim to help this ongoing process in the future. There is more structure to our processes and we are continuously developing our IT tools. For example, we are now working at optimising the transition from sales to engineering, so that our engineers receive as much relevant information as possible. This enables them to work more efficiently too.’
Rick continues to acquire know-how and also takes charge of his own projects so that he retains affinity and keeps up-to-speed with all the latest developments. ‘Winning an order still gives me a buzz. Especially when I see our very own solutions roll out of the factory a couple of months later. There are currently many large projects which are helping to realise Gpi’s longstanding ambitions. There is so much potential and we are never still. It’s fantastic to see.’
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