ICE® wishes a "Bon Voyage" to Mike Robinson!
Editor: Debbie Reaney
In late February, early March of 2023, International Construction Equipment, Inc. will be saying goodbye to an outstanding sales leader and mentor, Mike Robinson. As Mr. Robinson retires, we want to share some of his insights and memories. Grandfather of 5 (3 boys/2 girls), Mike says his 13-year-old grandson is interested in tinkering and could be the next big innovator in the industry. The others are younger, so he is still holding out hope they might take an interest in pile driving and drilling industry. Robinson's youngest son is an electrician and his oldest is a welder by trade, but he also owns his own fabrication shop and business. "Be a leader, not a follower," is something he has instilled in his children and grandchildren along with making sure they knew there were consequences for every decision, "When you are out and about- whatever you are doing, if you are ashamed to come home and tell your parents what you were doing, you shouldn't be doing it." Wise words that we all should contemplate.
Almost 30 years ago, Mike hired and trained his nephew, long time ICE® employee Shawn Robinson, starting him out washing bolts for the machines and encouraging him to learn as much as he could from the ground up. "If your equipment breaks, it was made by people -things happen, be fair." Shawn appears to have taken his uncle's advice to heart, expressing that, "Mike Robinson was the single biggest influence in my career, he saw potential in a 19-year-old kid who did not know anything... Now, 29 years later, I am proud to be part of his legacy. Uncle Mike can be a difficult man sometimes, but he has always treated ICE® customers as if they were his own family. His upfront loyalty and candor will be missed."
Mike Robinson's father drove pile for over 50 years working for a local company in North Carolina. Mike started working there as a young man doing maintenance. Robinson says he did not grow up with a passion for pile, but he did develop a love for his work. His contribution to the USA as a Marine and some work in the forklift industry altered his course briefly, but with guidance and mentorship from his dad he easily found his footing in the pile driving world.
"Give your customers the best equipment for the job, and they will always come back to you," was a piece of advice from his father that Mike still puts into practice and what he says has made him successful. Robinson feels that is why many of his customers love ICE®. He is always putting the customer's best interest first by selling/renting what they need versus what they think they need. It is all about knowing the job, knowing the equipment, and knowing the customer. "It's not ever about the money," Robinson says. Mike started as a mechanics helper at 15 and worked on his own car figuring it out along the way. After high school he attended two technical training schools within the Marine Corp, which placed him firmly on his path. Robinson says he has always been intrigued with how things work and found he had a natural affinity for tinkering. This has served him well in the industry, consistently staying on top of innovative technology and learning how the latest equipment works. Reading manuals and case studies is part of his normal routine. As a young man, Robinson worked on servicing cranes for his father. He had no formal knowledge starting out, but his natural inclination of mechanics, continued studies and motivation to read everything, made him good at everything he touched.
In the 80's Mike became a service tech for a company that was a distributor for International Construction Equipment, Inc (ICE®). After 12 years in the field, Robinson was approached by Christian Cunningham, ICE®, CEO, and was hired in 1999 as a service manager. Not long afterwards, he was asked to switch roles to become the Branch Sales & Service Manager in the Virginia area. Robinson's wife of 44 years, Debbie, was thrilled with the change and was ready to support Mike in his next big adventure.
Mike stated that working for ICE® has afforded him many opportunities to sharpen his skills with most industry knowledge happening on the job and out in the field. Robinson feels that his service experience gave him insight to best support ICE® Customers and would strongly encourage anyone who wants to excel in their field to learn and train as much about their industry and products as possible. Knowing what the equipment can do is necessary to provide the best customer service. If you have not heard, ICE® 's culture is built on this principle, as most of their sales team have a strong background in construction management, service, parts, or engineering within the pile driving industry. We have a large arsenal of experts to pull information from to share with our customers.
Some of Robinson's biggest challenges over his 30+ years has been a noticeable shift in industry culture. He expressed the feeling that newer subcontractors and pile drivers need a bit more training and service help than in the past. All jobs are different. But one common trend is the need for training and Mike always offers maintenance, safety and set up procedure training from start to finish. Like all ICE® sales team members, Robinson loves to take his time to make sure the crew knows how to put the equipment together, get a pile stood up, get the hammer setup safely, and most importantly making sure they understand how the soil can and will affect the job.
Robinson's territory encompasses West Virginia to Georgia. When asked about his sales approach, Robinson always asks, before suggesting a drill or pile driver, "where's the job?" The soil requirements are varied and knowing what type of equipment will work best in certain situations is imperative. This is another reason why ICE® believes it is important to have some service or engineering background prior to sales. Inquiries about Mike's greatest successes over the years were answered with reluctance and grace, feeling that all pile driving jobs completed were a tremendous success for the industry. However, after some prodding, Mike acknowledged that he was immensely proud of the contractors he had the ICE® marketing team write up for PDCA "Project of the Year" submissions over the years.
Balfour Beatty out of Wilmington and United out of Great Falls, SC are two of his favorite clients. He has made many good friends in the industry and will deeply miss that camaraderie. That sentiment is echoed by Jay Boyd, Operations Manager at Balfour Beatty Infrastructure, "I have known Mike for over 30 years, and I wholeheartedly agree that he is a true industry pioneer." When they first met in 1988, Boyd was a firefighter and did not know a thing about construction let alone pile drivers. That very day Mike took him under his wing and took the time to not only talk to Jay about the machines, but Robinson also taught Boyd all about the various hammers, including how to time a steam operated pump which they ran on back then. "The time he took meant the world to me and has absolutely been a factor in my own personal success. Every project Balfour Beatty SE has, we look to the ICE® team for advice, guidance, and equipment to assist us in making our jobs not only safe but on time and profitable. Robinson and the ICE® team are our go-to guys, and we are thankful for our relationship. ICE® is known in the industry for a sales team that possesses hands on knowledge of safety and pile driving best practices, Mike is one of those ICE® leaders that not only knows the material but is a born teacher for the driven pile industry. I am honored to have trained and worked with him for the past 30+ years."
Robinson is not sure what he will be doing once retirement is a reality, but for now he hopes to be able to just relax and enjoy his greatest title, grandpa.
Best wishes to Mike Robinson. You will be missed.
Pollyanna Cunningham, MA, MBA
Vice President Marketing, Brand and Media Relations
ICE® - International Construction Equipment, Inc
Office - 704-821-8200
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
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