The Power of Listening

Ariel Rodriguez started playing music as a kid – piano, drums and any other percussion instrument he could lay his fingers on. Self-taught, he inherited his love of song from his dad, a songwriter who also built guitars from scratch. “My dad was a builder. Music was a hobby for him. He didn’t believe in a music career for me. He told me I had to do something else to support myself,” explains Ariel.

For Ari, the “something else” he opted for was engineering. After college he became a licensed stationary engineer and spent the next 18 years working for large companies in the region. Two years ago he joined Northern Weathermakers as a sales engineer and project manager.

As part of the sales, design and build team, Ari helps conceive, design, and manage the installation of HVAC/automation systems for commercial clients. “I super-enjoy the engineering part of what I do. It’s creative work and a challenge to the mind.” Upon completion of a project, Ari serves as a customer relationship manager to assist with ongoing needs.

A recent project Ari was excited about was for a Chicago area software company. He met with the owner in the spring to discuss the efficiencies and cost-savings of installing an automation system in their 40,000 square foot building. Once the client gave the go-ahead, the Northern Weathermakers team moved quickly; about 105 days later, the project was complete.

Ari attributes his success in the field to two “golden rules”. First: Do it right the first time. Second: Listen.

“It’s probably the most undervalued skill in any business. There is no template for people. Some of us get so tied up in a response that we do not give a person a chance to really express themselves. I am a true believer in the power of listening to my customers to really get an understanding of who they are, what they need, and what they want.”

Ari is personally a big supporter of automation controls. Next winter he plans to automate a building he owns. “I want to make sure the boilers and exhaust systems are always running properly. You can automate anything and operate the system from your smartphone or tablet,” he explains.

“I could be in Japan and remotely check the system in the building to ensure that there are no leaks, no alarms, the power is on, and so on. I will be able to control the temperature and humidity and monitor my system from anywhere in the world via an internet connection! Once I set this up, it will be a great way to demo the technology to our customers, too.”

After hours, music continues to play a big role in Ari’s life. Ten years ago he invested in a recording studio in Bucktown, offering musicians a way to record and produce their music. One of the company’s special achievements was when he was hired to travel to Hollywood to produce and engineer a video and single for Snoop Dogg and Lilana that was later picked up by Nestle. He has also worked with other well-known bands in different genre as well as recorded voice-overs and produced web content for several politicians.

Two years ago, Ari married the sister of one of his longtime friends. (If you have the opportunity, ask Ari about his proposal in the Dominican Republic.) “My wife, Rosangela, is the greatest thing that has happened to me.”

Given that Ari is only “knocking 40”, we’re certain that there are many more great things to come in the life of this talented team member.