Sales & Estimating Manager Wears Many Hats in Contributing to Strom’s Success
“I can never sit still,” explained Paul Sonderen, Sales & Estimating Manager at Strom Manufacturing. “I’ve got to keep moving forward. That’s what’s so great about my job here at Strom. I love wearing many hats. There is always something important to do right now.”
And that is exactly what Paul has been doing since 1999. Estimating and quoting. Order entry. Customer service. Purchasing. Deliveries. And always interacting with customer decision makers.
“Paul is so great to work with because he always knows what to do and does everything well,” stated Strom President Bill Strom. “He came to us twenty-three years ago with a deep understanding and aptitude for CNC machining and outside processing. He makes my job so much easier.”
Paul started his career working for Sunset Manufacturing, a precision CNC machining company in Tualatin, OR. During his seventeen years there, he rose steadily through the ranks, starting as a truck driver and ending with being the company’s sales manager. He then moved on to a local plating company for three years before joining Strom. While with the plating firm, he regularly interfaced with its customers, most of whom were CNC machine shops.
“I felt comfortable at Strom from day one,” said Paul. “Bill gives general direction, but lets me do things my way. And Compass buying the company has not changed that. I like their hands-off mentality. Some people talk about decentralized management but don’t really mean it. Compass does.”
Paul is one member of the quartet that runs Strom Manufacturing. Bill Strom handles CNC programming and general management responsibilities. Brian Kedroske directs the shop and quality, while Mike Strom does all the technical stuff, including IT. That leaves Paul with responsibility for sales, estimating, customer service, purchasing and deliveries.
“Some people give me a crazy look when I say I make deliveries,” explained Paul. “But personally, delivering some of our parts gives me an excellent opportunity to see customers, buyers, engineers, and other key decision makers. I get to know them and vice versa. And when they have questions or need help, they know exactly who to contact.”
“I like to think Compass is full of hands-on people ready to do whatever it takes to serve customers and grow our business,” stated Gary Holcomb, CEO of parent company Compass Precision. “But I can tell you, without doubt, that Paul does exactly that on a daily basis.”
Part of what makes Paul’s role special is the way he meshes so seamlessly with the other members of the “Strom quartet”. Many companies function with constant oversight from one individual in charge. But Strom’s quartet of Bill, Paul, Brian and Mike do things in concert without visible direction, almost as if they could read each other’s minds.
“I have worked with Paul for a long time,” said Brian Kedroske. “He is a great teammate. I always know he will hold up his end and then some.”
“I have total confidence in Paul,” added Mike Strom. “He is wonderful with customers, always on top of everything. And he handles purchasing and deliveries, as well. Very few people could do everything he does. Strom Manufacturing is a much better company because of him.”
Away from work, Paul enjoys home projects, snow skiing, and camping in their 38-foot travel trailer. He and his wife, Susie, have been married for thirty-four years and have two children and two grandchildren. Their son, Jared, is thirty-two and employed with Costco while their daughter, Paige, is twenty-eight and works as a pediatric respiratory therapist.