The Keeping it Real series is your chance to hear from Allen & Shariff staff on life, lessons, and leadership, straight from the trenches. Sometimes literally.
Name and Title: Aaron DeSantis, Mechanical Designer
Office location: Zelienople
Years at Allen & Shariff: Two years
What’s the one skill that you would say is essential to being a great mechanical designer?
Attention to detail is essential because one little mistake can cost the owners of the facilities we work in a lot of money. This can in turn damage to the relationship we have with them, as they may start giving other firms work we would have received.
What is the most innovative advancement you’ve seen since you first started your career? How has it affected the industry?
While I haven’t been doing this long, it seems that refrigerants are constantly changing to keep up with government regulations. As a designer, we need to stay current on what refrigerants are available to us and if the refrigerant will be available down the road or if it will be phased out.
Describe something from your past (school, work experience, a mentor) that most influenced you to become a mechanical designer?
My grandfather was a mechanical engineer and I remember going to his office when he worked for Rockwell in New Castle, PA and seeing the machine components he was designing. While I’m not designing machine components, the line of work we do is just as interesting if not more.
What’s the coolest Allen & Shariff project you’ve been part of?
Right now, we are renovating a 5,000-ton chilled water plant and increasing it in size to a 15,000-ton plant. It’s cool because of the magnitude and the detail in the design.
What’s the #1 “rookie mistake” you see in those just starting out their career in your field? Explain.
Not asking enough questions. When I started I really knew nothing about healthcare design. Out of all of the people I’ve talked to, Ric Bowser and Russ Sullivan are two of the best in the field. Asking them questions and then thinking about their answers as it pertains to the task at hand, as well as the big picture, has helped me the most.
What’s the single most important ingredient when it comes to a successful client relationship?
Communication. The clients we work for know that what we do is an intricate and detail-oriented process. Sometimes we encounter problems with existing building systems that we do not know about that can cause delays on a project. They appreciate it when we call them or send them an email telling them about the problem and what the possible solutions are.
If Allen & Shariff were a car, what kind of car would it be and why?
2017 Chevrolet Colorado with a 2.4L Duramax diesel engine. A 2017 model because just like Allen and Shariff, the 2017 model will have a few miles on it (A&S has been around for 25 years) but a diesel engine is built for the long haul, just like Allen and Shariff. Also, the Colorado isn’t a full-size truck just like Allen and Shariff isn’t a large corporation. That gives us the freedom to appeal to individual owners and fit in niche markets.
What book(s) are on your nightstand right now?
1. Operation Red Wings: The Rescue Story Behind Lone Survivor by Peter Nealen
2. Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins
We hear you’re into hunting. Bow or rifle?
Bow. There are many variables that go into archery hunting and shooting a bow effectively. Just a little bit of side torque in your grip on the bow riser, if the fletching of the arrow touches your face in any way, or if you punch the trigger instead of gently pulling the trigger with your back muscles, all lead to an errant shot. If you don’t have control over all of those variables and many more then you will not be effective with a bow.