Anyone who makes an appointment with Will Healy is competing with a tight schedule. The fact that Will, like everyone else, has been working remotely since the pandemic began is not a disadvantage for him. On the contrary, “My job always required me to work with colleagues all over the world anyway,” says Will, who is part of the regional management team for North and South America.
It takes about 35 minutes to get to Balluff Americas’ Kentucky location from Will’s home in Cincinnati, Ohio. “With traffic, significantly more. By working mobile, I’ve gained about two hours a day.” And he puts those hours to valuable use, because he is a busy and sought-after man, a true jack-of-all-trades. You will hardly find a person in the Balluff universe who does not know the 39-year-old. Will has that typical American “can do” attitude. Just tackle it, do it. “My whole Balluff career has been a career of opportunities. I’m a problem solver, a proactive person. I have a high energy level.”
Will’s Balluff career began in 2005 as a technical trainee in sales; he previously studied mechanical engineering at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. “I didn’t know Balluff before. I had no idea about industrial automation. But talking to Dave Bird and Tom Rosenberg got me excited about Balluff right away. They talked about Balluff with such passion and I knew ‘That’s where I want to work.'”
Will has always been a very social person. “Even during my studies, I was in a lot of clubs and associations. I always kind of swam against the tide among other engineers.” At first, Will struggled with this, but later he realized, “I’m good at bringing people together.” And he is a motivator to this day. “During my time at university, I also learned to understand what our customers – engineers, technicians, electromechanical engineers – do. Without that knowledge, it would be much harder for me today to understand what they really need.”
After completing his training, Will added marketing to his skillset. “At Balluff, we don’t just want customers to order something. We want to be a true partner who supports customers in their challenges. It’s our top priority that the customer can work better and more efficiently through our products.” Getting that message across was and is Will’s job. “In those early days, I learned a lot about the automation industry through my marketing efforts,” he says. He tried many different marketing ideas in the beginning. This is how he came to produce YouTube videos at the very beginning of the social media era – for which he is still a minor celebrity in the Balluff Group today. “I often hear from colleagues: You’re the one with the SmartLight-Video!“
Then came the years 2008 and 2009, the economic crisis. During this time, the cable business developed at Balluff, and the company was looking for someone in America for the local product management role. “This job was perfect for me as a mechanical engineer because so many machine processes take place in a cable.” Everything had to be thought through — materials, connections, parts. This data had to be recorded, classified and written down for the first time. During his time as cable manager, he learned much about material procurement and supply chains, and how development and design work happen at Balluff. Over time, his colleagues around the world continued to expand the cable business, and today it is an important part of the Balluff portfolio. After his time as a cable manager, Will became a product manager in the network area, with the IO-link technology leading the way.
His current role at Balluff Americas is all about globalism; Will creates global marketing content and coordinates the efforts of global teams. “I don’t see myself as a Balluff Americas employee. I see myself as a global employee. Everything I do should have a global benefit for all Balluff employees and customers.” And so the circle is closed. What Will was known for in his student days – forming teams and bringing together competencies – he is doing again today for Balluff.
Will also keeps close to his colleagues and customers around the world via social media. “LinkedIn in particular is an important tool for me to stay in touch.” Will knows how important this is also from a family and personal perspective, as he comes from a large family. Born in Minnesota, he lived in Maryland for a time as a child, and completed middle and high school in Chicago. Today, he lives in Cincinnati with his wife Katie, a genetic counselor at a leading international children’s hospital, and their three children Elinor, 8, Penrose, 6, and 3-year-old Liam, whose full name is William Edward Healy IV, like Will himself and his father and grandfather before him, which is why Will signs his emails “Will III.”
Many who read this and know Will might think they know which is his favorite Balluff product. After all, he made a name for himself within the company with videos about the SmartLight. But far from it. His favorite product is the BES proximity switch. “The proximity sensor is one of the most valuable tools in our toolbox. In itself, it is a very simple technology; the sensor uses an electromagnetic field to detect metal objects. But in doing so, it helps our customers more than anything else. If you put a small inductive sensor in your plant, you can save tens of thousands of dollars a year. That’s incredible!” The enthusiasm for inductive sensors, for industrial automation, for his job as a whole can be clearly seen on Will’s face, despite coming into this field rather by chance. It is no surprise that Will is inspiring people all over the world.