Mike Miller with Azo, Inc

Industrial Talk is speaking with Mike Miller, Director of Sales – Azo, Inc. about “Solving today's material handling challenges and leveraging conferences for collaboration.” Get the answers to your “Material Handling” questions along with Mike's unique insight on the “How” on this Industrial Talk interview!

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conferences, conversation, powder, talk, company, packaging, equipment, dash, year, industry, innovation, product, bulk, industrial, mike miller, materials, work, solution, customers, happen


Welcome to the Industrial Talk podcast with Scott Mackenzie. Scott is a passionate industry professional dedicated to transferring cutting-edge industry focused innovations and trends while highlighting the men and women who keep the world moving. So put on your hard hat, grab your work boots, and let's go.


Hi, there. Welcome to Industrial Talk. Thank you very much for joining this platform, this industrial revolution platform that celebrates industrial professionals all around the world. You're bold? Yep, you're brave. Yes, thank you, you dare greatly you innovate, you collaborate, which is very important. And you're making this world a much better place to live. Thank you very much for what you do. And that's why we celebrate you on this platform, this industrial media platform. All right, we have a gentleman by the name of Mike Miller, Azo is a company that's 800. We're just talking about conferences, and the importance of conferences in your business. Let's just be frank about it. Let's get back to normal. Let's get back to collaborating and, and constantly feeding our minds with great educational stuff so that you can be successful, and conferences are the way to go. Let's get cracking. Great conversation. Yeah, I'm a big, big fan of conferences. Now. You go to a conference, you can meet with all the people that you want to meet with, you can get the information that you need to help your business be more resilient. Yeah, it's important. And a strategy around conferences is key. So you know, when I go to conferences, when I broadcast from conferences, I know who I'm going to talk to, or work with the conference organizers. And we make sure that we generate the content that is necessary to help not only the conference, for next year, for the future, but also the individuals at the conference, get their message out, tell their story. Because we're in an a, an industrial media center, right here at Industrial Talk, it's important to just continue to grab that information. It's an I say, industrial revolution, and it is my conversations that I have are inspiring. The people that are blazing These trails are an inspiration, for lack of a better term. And they're really trying to address all the challenges all of the the opportunities that exist in industry today, the speed at which industry is, is growing and evolving the journey that you have to be on the commitment that you have to take and and do everything you possibly can to learn as much as you can, because I just came back from hexagon live in Las Vegas. And I gotta tell you, they were talking some mad technology, incredible innovation, and how that will impact industry at all levels. And it's happening, because because you just have to you have to know what's happening. And the only way that I can, or the recommended recommendation I can make is, Well, you better be engaged, you better be a part of that conversation. What's interesting about it is that I'm I'm real passionate about the small to mid sized companies, large companies, I love them too, but they're gonna Blaze their trail, they're going to do what is necessary to keep that business going. And make sure that there is efficient as they possibly can. And they have it, they've got the balance sheet, they've got the financials, to be able to do that small to mid, you need to be more lean and mean you need to be more nimble, you need to have that ability to be able to leverage the innovation, the technology out there, that impacts in a positive way your bottom line. And the only thing again, the only recommended recommendation I can make is that you be engaged. You go to conferences, you find out more, we need you we need your nimbleness to impact the world in a positive way. And and the energy that comes out of small to mid-sized companies is inspiring. So that's that's my soapbox for this morning. But ASIO is the company and we we were talking specifically about the powder conference, and why it's important for a XO to be at these conferences and have these conversations. It's a it's a bulk handling company that has their their global they're just global. And you you come to realize quickly in the conversation with Mike that it's everywhere and my background in the sugar industry. Yeah, it's every Are and without the the companies like a XO, your you just won't get the products or the quality that you need. And it's, I can geek out on this stuff because I think that material handling bulk handling is really interesting and many don't know about it, but it's pretty cool. It's pretty cool. All right, let's get on with the conversation. His name is Mike Miller, the company's Azo A Z O, and we're going to be talking about conferences, enjoy the conversation. Mike, welcome to Industrial Talk. Thank you very much for joining. How are you doing today?


I'm doing well. How are you? How about yourself?


Thank you for asking. I'm doing great. I'm always doing well. Because I get to talk to people like you and live my discovery channel dream and talk about industry. How about that? You didn't expect that one? Did you?


I didn't know. It took me that surprised? I like it, though. I think that


it is it's true that I get to I enjoy these conversations. Because I think the unsung heroes are people in industry that are doing cool things, but nobody knows about it. And every time I agree more, yeah. And every time I hear somebody talk about cool things like nobody knows about that. That's cool. You guys just do it. Yeah. Okay. See, precise. Again, listeners. I was telling him I digress quite quickly. And there's an example of it. not proud of it. But I geek out. All right. For the listeners there, Mike give us a little background on who you are. And then of course, I want to know a little bit more about ASOS. And then we're going to be talking a little bit about the powder show. And then finally, this is a topic that I think is really pretty cool. Are conferences important. Doesn't sound sexy, but that sounds pretty cool. So Mike, give us a little background.


Great. Yeah. So thanks for having me on. I really appreciate the opportunity. So yeah, so I work for a company called ASIO. As you mentioned, before I do I'm in sales. So I manage part of our sales team. And really what we do is provide system solutions, automated solutions for for powder and bulk handling operations. So major manufacturers, all the things that people eat and drink, and put on their bodies, the stuff that their houses are made out of. All of that is manufactured at an industrial scale. And most typically, those operations involve powders and bulk solids of some sort. And so my company


for you, where you go out what defines solid bulk? So


yeah, so for us, that's really it's a it's a broad definition. So think about fine powders, things that are like kind of dusty materials all the way up to granulates. So if you think of like a plastic pellet or something like that, yeah, anything, anything of like a granular or a pellet size anywhere in between there? We do we produce the equipment, and we design the systems that handle those materials. So they come into the building, on one end, it goes through a whole process and it comes out is something usable for the consumer. So whether it's food or beverages or you know, some sort of consumer product like diapers, things like that,


is Azone of sort of vertically integrated because you talk about design, do you guys also manufacture the products themselves the handling the bulk handling products themselves? Or do you?


Yes, so we are, we are a capital equipment manufacturer. So think about big things like like vessels or receive we call them receivers, large storage tanks and vessels that are going to hold these powder in bulk solid products, and then the intermediary steps to bring it along the different steps in the process. So whether it's pneumatic conveying whether the material needs to be screened, because there might be things that are in the product stream that we don't want. So we protect against that, and then bringing it to each subsequent process step. So typically, for a manufacturer, that's the mixing device of some sort, so they bring all the constituent ingredients together, they mix it together into the product, and then it either goes out to packaging, or it goes to another step in the process, if they're going to liquefy it, or if they're going to extrude it into something. And then finally it goes out to packaging into a product that you're gonna go buy off the shelf. So all those steps in between. That's where we come in to make sure that the materials get to the right point at the right time.


Theoretically, I could just come and knock on the door of Bezos and say, Hey, here's my challenge, and then you'd be able to sort of guide and do what is necessary makes it easy for him. i Yeah, I'm on point.


Yeah. Within the manufacturing space, there's a broad spectrum of of customers or prospects who know what's going on and some that, that really don't they have they, they say, I need to do this. And I have no idea how to do that. You know, those are the types of instances where aser really shines. We pride ourselves on having the the technical know how and the expertise, understanding a manufacturing process to be able to help them fill in the blanks. And so we'll ask relevant questions about what they're trying to accomplish. You know, typically, it's what are you making? How much of that thing are you making? And what are the ingredients that it's made up of? And how do you receive those things? And then we'll put together a basic concept for a system. And they'll say, oh, yeah, that's what I was thinking or I don't know. And so we'll go through an iterative design process to fine tune. And then subsequently, we'll price it. And they'll say, yeah, that fits the bill, or that's a little higher than maybe I was looking for. And so we'll go through that process again, and again, till we come up with a qualified design that they can then commercialize, and make a part of their business plan for them to be successful.


It always dazzles me that many don't realize how much effort goes into just delivering a product, to your to your, to your table, or whatever it might be the quality assurance and all of the steps and, and how much, you know, gray matter was involved and invested into the solution. And always it always fascinated now, professionals like you, you know, you make it look easy, but but for the


I wasn't always good at this. And I also didn't always appreciate just how much energy goes into making the things that we just take for granted. You know, you open your, your pantry and look inside there. And the amount of people that touched all of the things that are in there, and the amount of energy and thought and consideration that went into making those things and we just go to the store and pick it up. And it's you know, three bucks here. 10 bucks there. It's it is truly remarkable. I consider myself very fortunate just to be a part of the process. Yeah.


And they continue to refine it and own it. And, and continue to, to make it even more efficient, or whatever it might be. And it's just, the energy is fantastic. All right. One of the areas that I am really passionate about, and I think that you are to our shows, talk to us about because there's a show for everything. Just, you're just FYI. And when you told me about the powder show, yeah, I've gone. Why not? So talk to us a little bit about that. Why that's important. Just to help the listener understand.


Absolutely, yeah. So at the end of April, earlier this year, we attended as an exhibitor, what we call the powder show, I think the official name is the International powder and bulk solids Conference and Exhibition. That's a mouthful. So


URL is available.


Locally, it's just known as the powder show. And really, the focus is powder handling companies and, you know, customers who, who have powder handling applications, which spoiler is just about every major manufacturer out there. It's a great place to come and see what's new in the industry, new equipment, new technologies, and just to talk to the companies that provide the types of equipment that's necessary to to accomplish the manufacturing tasks that you might have. So it was this year, every year, I should say, or every other year. So it's it's a biannual show. It's in Rosemont, Illinois, so it's really close to the airport, Greater Chicago area. And it was it was pretty well attended, I have to say, the last time we were at the show was in 2021, which, you know, I think we're still kind of in the pandemic. And the attendance was not great, as expected. But it was, you know, they wanted to take that first step to get back. So by comparison this year, I think it was it was quite a bit better. It's still, I think, in comparison to maybe say six or 10 years ago, the attendance is definitely still down. But I think in general, that's that's a trend among most trade shows and conferences in general. So with that, with that frame of reference, I would say that it was a successful show, it certainly was for us, we saw plenty of of leads. And I will say for the the average attendee, when I think about quality versus quantity, the quantity of leads that came and spoke to us is probably down, you know, over 10 years, but the average quality of a lead is significantly up. So you see less and less folks just kind of coming out to see what what's what, and more folks with very specific needs, the actual projects that that they're looking to talk to an expert about. And so the quality of conversation that we have, on average is definitely up, which I think is a good thing. I'm still you know, I want more people to show up. So you know, For those folks who are on the fence or don't really see the value, I still think that there's a tremendous amount of value in going to a show, even if you don't have a very specific purpose where you need to go and talk to someone. So the pattern show is, is a little unique as well. Go ahead. Yeah, I


think that it's important for you to be able to, I mean, tactically, touch some of this equipment, see this innovation that's taking place, if you're not engaged, you're gonna miss out. And I think that things change so dramatically. And there might be a solution that you can go see, you can have that conversation, you can go touch it, and that might be transformative for your business or solve a problem. And you wouldn't even know, it's different than if you're reading about it. To go there and see it, it's just a whole nother thing. Go back to the power show go.


Yeah. And I totally agree with what you with what you said there. It's, you know, I think that comparison to remote work versus in person, you know, or in office work is is real, we definitely identified that there's opportunity for folks to take a step back, it helps, you know, reduces cost and gives people flexibility in their works in the work life. But team cohesion, we've suffered greatly during the pandemic. And so I think there's been, you know, we've migrated back towards, well, let's go to the office every couple of days, and still have that face to face interaction, that, you know, the building of record those kinds of things, I applied that mentality towards the trade show. So during the pandemic, many companies, ourselves included, tried the virtual trade show. And I can say, unequivocally, it was not a success. I don't we definitely won't be going back to any version of the virtual trade show.


I've read, I wouldn't even go to a hybrid, it's like,


oh, yeah, so we Yeah, on our on our website, we do have still have an example of what that looked like. And it is useful, I think, you know, we've seen some folks go into that space, they can see equipment, it's, you know, it's a, we had like a 3d walk around kind of deal. And so absent, being able to go in person, you know, it can serve a purpose, but it is definitely not going to replace the the in person face to face interaction. And so with the powder show, specifically, you know, it's an opportunity to come out and see equipment. And then for us also, as a, as a system solution provider, we don't manufacture all the equipment that we end up putting into a system. And so we have dozens of vendor partners who are also at the show. And so it's an opportunity for us as a company to go in. And maybe reinvigorate relationships that have gone, that we haven't tended to well in the recent past or to forge new relationships. So in a couple instances, we met a couple of companies this year that had never exhibited at the show, and there's some really great promise there for us to be able to partner with them to provide a better value for our customer. So I consider that in immense value. As as someone who is trying to, again, provide value. So you know, I mean, that's, that's, that's essentially the powder show. In a nutshell. For us, I think it was, it was good, we'd like it to be better. But we'll take what we can get, and hope for the best. But you


see the trend happening? I think people are getting back to normal, whatever normal looks like, but I think normal includes the necessity to go to in person trade shows, kick the tires, look at the innovation, have the conversations, you know, and you know, as well as I do, the human behavior or the human characteristic is, I have a question. And then it'll spin off another question. And then you'll, you know, go out to dinner, and then the next day you come back and so I was thinking about this last night. What about this? Yeah, and it's, it's all there. And and I think it's an efficient use of time.


Yep. And yeah, you hit the nail on the head there, the time that it would take if I if I was a someone who was looking for anything a solution to a business problem that I have in my in my plant, the the time and energy it would take to go out to the internet and do the research and even know where to look right. Even if I was reasonably well acquainted with the options that were out there, I would spend days and days cumulatively collecting all the information that I could get in four to six hours in one day at a show and and not just the information but also get an impression from that company, right? By talking to the individuals in the booth, you really get a sense of you know, what are the things that these companies that this company values, and is that in line with my company's values and is there an opportunity there? When you when you design capital equipment systems in your customers spend millions and millions of dollars? It's not just about the equipment, it's all about, it's also about the relationship and can we pa be dependable, can we provide the peace of mind that we're going to execute the project? Well, and you know, in those, those types of things take time, when you get to talk to someone face to face, the impression that you can get, as compared to even just a video conference, there's, it's just, it's hard to replace that experience, and certainly over the phone or over the internet, it's almost impossible, I think, to really get a sense. So you're gonna have to do that work at some point, why not, you know, do it. And why not be efficient and go and talk to five or 10 companies instead of just one at a time at a time.


But see, this is this is one of the rubs that I have, you get it, if I go to a conference, I'm working, I'm working hard, I'm running around, I'm making contacts, I'm trying to add or communicate value and vice versa. And, and, but then there's the the other ones that just go there, because they're just sort of hanging out and drinking or fine bourbon, and eat and eat in the great food and call it a day. I discourage that, I want the ones that are aggressive. And to your point, you know, you got your your quality of leads versus the quantity. That's where I think that's where people are at. And I think putting forth the money, go into these in person shows. Having a plan of attack, just do your research, say I see who's going to be there, I'm going there. These are the things that I want to talk about, you'll hit homeruns, you'll hit home. Absolutely.


And there's also you know, a lot of these these shows, you know, we typically stand on the expo floor and talk to people. But there's also these conferences have loads of seminars and opportunities for continuing education. So if your company has a corporate policy, where you've got to, you know, you've got to meet certain expectations, or if you're a professional engineer, so talking to those engineers out there, and you have actual hard requirements, many of the trade shows, in fact, I would say nearly all of them have seminars that will count towards the continuing education, professional development, our requirements. So you know, it's, it's an opportunity there as well. But I think the from, from my perspective, the fundamental lack of understanding for a lot of people is it's it's a disruption from your daily routine, like you get out of your normal space. And you can get into a different headspace or different mindset to be able to think creatively or innovatively about your business. And so even if you don't have very specific needs, like my company is trying to expand this line, or we have a greenfield project where we're standing up a whole new building, in manufacturing process, even if you don't have hard projects that you're working on, you might have initiatives that your company is considering 123 years down the line, you can do some of that early creative work at a show. And you'd be shocked at how, how open to having just those those kind of high level conversations, folks like like myself and my colleagues, and even my competitors. I know for a fact that, you know, they all share a similar mindset of helping manufacturing professionals figure out what's the next step? What's the what's the next big thing? Let's just, you know, let's have a blue sky, kind of dream, dream big conversation, and who knows what comes from that maybe nothing today. But you know, we've seen specific evidence of meeting folks at a show. And we ask them, what brings you in today? And they're like, Well, we're just kind of here to see what's what's new. And flash forward. Three years later, we're working on a on a project that started with that conversation, you know, and it took a long time to develop, but it was for us that was time well spent. And we had just measured it from, you know, the result of that show, we would say well, you know, that lead really didn't pan out into anything. But you never know what's going to happen in the future. And all it takes is, I mean, even just a five minute conversation can make make the difference on something big like that. So


yeah, I agree with you. 100% Where do you see Azo go and what's your what's your next conference?


Yeah, so our next big one is PAC Expo. So this is in Las Vegas this year. It that's a big show for us. Spoiler we are only in a very small way. In the packaging world. We do we do have some equipment that does bulk packaging. But all of our customers need packaging. You know, there's no one is buying a cake mix, you know, in a clear plastic bag on the shelf, right? Like it's in a fancy box, and it appeals to your senses. And so we go where the customers are because, you know packaging is probably it's number one or number two priority for our customers. And so we want to be where the action is. So pack Expo in Las Vegas. I think that happens in September. So we'll be there and come Check us out. It's it's definitely.


Let's see, tell me who those people are, you know, the organizers. I'll be there in just seconds because I do go to conferences. And yes, I do broadcast live at those locations. Cool. Yeah. But yeah, I plant that seed. Because I see that conferences are important. Absolutely need you to listener, you need to know that that's important. And you need to map out your conference. You know, target list.


If you were to pick one. Yeah, if you were to pick one show a year, if your company said, Listen, you can go to one pack Expo and my opinion would be would be a solid option to go to so.


Don't, don't bring on like other shows, though. They'll bring in the machine. And they'll show the machine sack going through and packaging and doing all this stuff. I mean, it's, it's right there. It's it's discovery in real


time. Oh, yeah, for sure. Yeah, especially the packing equipment, they love the setup. You know, some of these foods are massive, 100 feet long, and they've got all manner of packaging, and it's just, they're just blown and going. It's really, it's something really cool to see if nothing more than just to be wowed. It's, you know, in my opinion, is worth the price of admission. So


I, I agree with you 100%. Every time I go to these some of these larger shows that are that are all stacked up with vendors that are bringing in just ridiculously sized machines. It's always I do a video and I'll just go check this out. Oh, my God, check this out. I don't have a roll of man. But they roll in. And then they hook up the power and then they've get it all dialed in. Pretty remarkable. So you've touched a lot of fun, a lot of things. One, that listener and I want you to walk away from that one. Conferences are important, and they're important to your business success. Figure out how to make that happen. Identify those conferences that are important to you, boom, make it happen. Don't shy away, get back to normal, and make those real contacts as human-to-human contacts. And to it's nice to know that a XO exists out there that I could just come knock on the door and say, Hey, I've got this challenge with my manufacturing process. And know that I only have to talk to one person that says Thank you. Absolutely. I don't want I don't want confusion. I don't want complexity. I just want solutions. Absolutely. Use that on a bumper sticker. How do people get a hold of you there? My friend? Yeah, the


best way to get a hold of us is to head to our website. So EVO dash Inc. I nc.com.


Can you get a dash? Couldn't you just come to Azo Inc? I mean,


it was it. I think it was taken so


Oh, dash there are Yeah, there are


there are other A's out there, unfortunately. So


you guys are a global company. So I understand that. And but Okay, remember the dash Aiza? Dashing? That's right. What about you gonna get hold? On the door? Yeah, you're a nice guy got a good head of hair. They want to talk to you. If you're out on the video, he has good head hair.


Yeah, easiest way to get a hold of me is by email. And it's super simple. mike.miller@aol.com


make that happen. Daisy. Oh. So you got A's asio.com? That's


right. So yeah, we are. We are a German company. And we do own the azo.com domain. That is our Global website. So that'll take you to the German website. So in the US we've, we've got a sister website, if we'll call it. So that's Azo dash inc.com. Right away, you'll you'll be able to find this.


So yeah, either way. There's not going to be a test on this because I don't want to test. All right, Mike, you were wonderful. Thank you very much.


Thanks, I appreciate it. All right,


let's do this. We're gonna wrap it up on the other side, you're gonna have all the contact information for Mike as well as a zero dash ink. You can make a note of that. All right. Well, we will be right back.


You're listening to the Industrial Talk Podcast Network.


That is Mike Miller delivering some truth bombs about conferences and why it's important for you to make that a priority. I don't for the remainder of the year, let whenever right now going forward, make that a priority. And then may and I'm telling you, you're spending the money, work those conferences, work them to the best of your ability to be able to learn as much as you can. And that collaboration to find innovations that will solve your pending or your current challenges, whatever it may because we need you. Mike Miller as Azo-inc.com He was great. By the way, because I'm a big advocate on on conferences, as you can tell, I'm a big advocate. All right, we're building a platform, a platform that is a media platform and Industrial Media Center, and we need your voice. Go out to Industrial Talk.com Reach out to Mike, reach out to me. We'll have a conversation. We're gonna have another great conversation shortly. So, you know, stay tuned.

Industrial Talk is speaking with Mike Miller, Director of Sales - Azo, Inc. about "Solving today's material handling challenges and leveraging conferences for collaboration." Get the answers to your "Material Handling" questions along with Mike's unique insight on the “How” on this Industrial Talk interview!

About the author, Scott

I am Scott MacKenzie, husband, father, and passionate industry educator. From humble beginnings as a lathing contractor and certified journeyman/lineman to an Undergraduate and Master’s Degree in Business Administration, I have applied every aspect of my education and training to lead and influence. I believe in serving and adding value wherever I am called.

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