Feature Friday – Andy Kroungold
Before I found my true calling, I worked as a security guard at a buddy’s sidewalk sale. Over time, I became friends with the shop guys and they introduced me to the jewelry industry. I started by simply listening and cleaning the bathroom at the shop, but eventually graduated to setting, polishing, plating, and casting. And just like that, the tool guy was born. I loved watching them create things and thought it was the coolest thing.
I applied for a job at Swest in 1986. I joined their team as the assistant manager and technical advisor. J.R.Newman, the owner, became a great friend and mentor to me. He taught me a lot of what I know today. Every morning around 10:30am, I would go into J.R.’s office and we’d discuss the daily numbers. After a quick discussion, he’d pull out the Swest catalog and he’d go from product to product explaining each one. He’d give me tips and tricks that weren’t in the book, little tidbits and insights to share with customers to help them solve problems they may have been dealing with. I’ll never forget what J.R. did for me. I’m thankful for his guidance every day.
Time went on and changes were happening at Swest. In 1997, Darrell Warren came to Stuller to start the tools division, and I wanted in. I finally joined the team as a product manager and technical advisor.
My fondest memory of Matt (something I still remember verbatim to this day) is when we ran into him at a local rodeo. See Matt and my son, Robby have the same birthday. So, my family and I were at the rodeo and we run into Matt. He shook my hand then got down on one knee eye level with my then five-year-old son and shook his hand and said “Welcome to Lafayette and to Stuller.” Right then and there I knew I wanted to do the best I possibly could for this man because of the way he treated my family.
I eventually moved into Sales working for Tip Cornell and Chris LaLanne. And when the last manager of the technical support team moved on, I assumed his role as well.
I’m now the director of tools and Stuller Bench, and I love it! My team is phenomenal. Each has a specialty, and together we span many years of at-the-bench experience and vast product knowledge. We are, without a doubt, the best at what we do.
Our customers are the most important thing to me. I’ve worked with parents and grandparents. I’ve formed relationships that have spanned generations, and I now work with those folks’ kids and grandkids. It’s the greatest honor to me to see people that I gave a small piece of candy to when they were kids still do business with me today. It’s an opportunity I don’t take lightly. I promote honesty in all things, give the best advice I’m able, and work hard to ensure our customers always come out on top. I’ve learned that if you treat people with respect and decency and give them a fair price and good information, those customers will remain loyal to you.
Outside of Stuller I enjoy swimming and golfing. I used to swim in my younger days and still love the sport. And my grandfather — a huge role model in my life — loved to golf so that’s one way I honor his memory. I’ve been married to my wonderful wife Susan for 31 years. We have one son, Robby who is 23 years old and is greatest joy in both of our lives.
Thanks for listening and have a Stuller-iffic day!