The Parts and the Whole: Brown, ’18, Interns with AIS Construction

July 20, 2016

David Brown with a John Deere 850K WLT bulldozer. He is the son of David and Carolyn Brown of Commerce Township, Mich., and a graduate of Lakeland High School.

David Brown, ’18, an economics and management major and business and organizations minor as a member of the Carl A. Gerstacker Institute for Business and Management, shares thoughts below about his summer internship at AIS Construction Equipment.

As a parts intern with AIS Construction Equipment Corporation this summer, I have had the opportunity to operate many pieces of heavy equipment. Without question the John Deere 470G LC excavator is my favorite. Standing at 40 feet tall and weighing in at 45 tons with a price tag of $400,000, it’s a beast. Most Fridays I’m out on the AIS New Hudson branch’s test site. It’s easy to say I have some fun doing my internship.

I’ve always been amazed with heavy equipment and the construction industry, being around job sites and the equipment itself. AIS provides me with the basis in which to do so, while getting some experience in the real world of work. I am able to see what these machines really do by driving to field and job sites to provide field technicians with the parts they need. These experiences have enhanced my passion for this industry.

My internship began in shipping and receiving, learning how to use the computer software and riding with our drivers around the state, following parts flow both in and out of our six branches. The next step was learning to support technicians by ordering parts from vendors or our other branches while checking for errors with inventory.

The final step in my internship is helping build the clientele, working with customers to make sales of machines and parts. The idea behind my internship is to start small and work to more complicated positions to give me a comprehensive view of how AIS functions as a corporation.

Working in “parts” sounds simple, but it’s definitely not. We supply everything from salt-mining buckets that can hold 12 cubic yards of material, to drill nodes that weight only a few ounces but cost as much as $10,000. A lot of our customers are in a hurry to keep their machine running. We pride ourselves on getting them out the door as fast as they came in.

This can be an extreme challenge because sometimes finding parts isn’t as easy as keying part numbers. You have to consult different AIS team members, global vendors or even problem-solve yourself to see if there is a part that you can cross-reference or rig to fulfill the job.

Customers bring in all sorts of miscellaneous machines, machines that sometimes aren’t even worth their scrap value. I often have to track down parts that haven’t been made since the 1970s. It’s very difficult but at the end of the day, it’s extremely rewarding.

Because I’m working in all the different parts of this business, I have to be able to process a lot of information at one time. I must also be proficient in how to use our computer system to do my job and order parts from around the world. It’s hard to balance all of it, it’s similar to a juggling act. However, playing lacrosse for Albion Coach Jake DeCola has helped me to learn extreme time-management skills while being able to plan ahead, which has helped me keep my head well above water.

I have discovered that I love being hands-on with the products I’m working with. Then seeing how those parts move through the branch to make a machine function is pretty incredible. I have found I’m good at interacting with people from all walks of life. I am able to make them satisfied with the timeliness in which I process their orders so they can continue their job.

My internship has helped me realize the type of company I would want to work for in the future. AIS cares about the customer; this is why they are so successful.