When Nancy Herrick looks back at her 35 years at Daktronics, she says it’s been an “adventurous journey.”
Nancy began her career at Daktronics in January of 1983, just before Manufacturing moved into Building 2. She started in Engineering Support, working on ‘Superbrains’ – early computers that just so happened to lose everything if someone touched them. “You saved everything frequently,” said Nancy. “But at least it wasn’t a typewriter!”
Although Nancy worked in Engineering Support, she came to Daktronics at a time when people didn’t use job descriptions to define all they did in a day’s time. “If something needed doing, you said, ‘OK, I’ll get it done.’ Then you worked with someone even in a different department (Engineering, Project Management, Manufacturing) to complete the project. Working with a team to help a customer or complete a task was always a highlight of the day – it really made you feel good.”
She’s learned many new things throughout her career and attributes this to the Daktronics culture of empowerment. “You learn from the challenges and changes you face each day.”
This underlying theme of opportunities and learning has connected Nancy with people in every corner of the company, and helped her form relationships that she still has today. Nancy stressedthe importance of working together and that several keys to success in that area are “trying to understand the other person’s perspective and working to a common understanding,” and having“positive interaction with customers and Daktronics teammates across business units and markets.”
From Engineering Support, Nancy moved to Customer Service, later to LSV (Large Sports Venues) Sales Administration, and then to the High Consistency business unit.
She’s appreciated the opportunity and challenge to be part of many changes at Daktronics. Early in her time in Customer Service, Nancy explained, the department “didn’t have much in terms of programs – nobody did – and we did everything manually. We received equipment, returns, exchanges; we processed orders; we did shipping, invoicing, inventory … we did everything. We had 68 filing cabinets, not counting International, all hard copies. And if you wanted something, you had to go through them!” She eventually helped define and set up a computer software system for Customer Service processes, and later was part of the team that implemented Glovia, Daktronics’ enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.
There have been many changes over the years in products, software systems, processes,
additional buildings, and international offices; but Nancy said some things haven’t changed – Daktronics’ core values (honest, helpful, and humble), and the talented, dedicated people we work with each day.
Nancy’s supervisor, Connie Schelske, agrees and extends that sentiment to Nancy herself.
“I have had the pleasure of working with Nancy throughout my career at Daktronics. In the past four years, I have had the opportunity to work more closely with her,” said Connie. “As Daktronics has changed significantly over the past 35 years, Nancy continues to exemplify our core qualities that have been a part of Daktronics culture for 50 years of being helpful, humble, and honest. Nancy has a passion for learning and helping others. It is a privilege to work with employees such as Nancy who have a vast knowledge of the company.”
Daktronics’ commitment to employee education has fed Nancy’s passion for learning, from education to professional growth. Nancy attended South Dakota State University at one time, but never completed her degree. While working at Daktronics, she began taking classes that complemented the work she was doing. She took a wide range of classes, from project management to electronics, and at times wondered what she was doing in those classes. But she kept learning, “and it was fun, it was challenging … and after I did that for a number of years, I thought, ‘you know what, I might as well get my degree now!’” Through Daktronics’ Employee Driven Education program, Nancy obtained a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and BusinessAdministration.
“Among the benefits Daktronics offers their employees is the encouragement to continue learning, and it’s not just going to SDSU, it’s also the encouragement of reading books … Listen to Reece. Listen to Al. Our management team finds value in the books they read, isn’t it good for usto do that too?
Nancy encouraged everyone to not wait for opportunities to come their way, but to seek them out. Because of Daktronics, she said, “We have the opportunity to do things we never dreamed we would or could do.”
Some of Nancy’s fondest memories and most satisfying experiences have come from mentoring others. “People joining the Daktronics team, watching them grow, watching them develop their skills and their confidence … it is so enjoyable,” Nancy said. She had the chance to supervise interns, students and full-time team members for a quite a few years. She said it’s been fun to look around the company and see many of her former student employees who have transitioned to full-time positions.
“I worked side by side with Nancy for several years – Nancy as the supervisor and I as the team lead for the Quote and Order Specialist group,” said Donna Kahler. “We went through a lot of changes and improvement of processes together and it was always a challenge, but we always came out on the other side stronger as a group. What I appreciate most about Nancy is her dedication to the people that she works with. She has been an incredible mentor for everyone that she has supervised, myself included. I wish Nancy all the best in her retirement, I will miss her!”
When Nancy finally transitioned to a part-time role with the Construction Management group, the relationships she developed over the years never took her very far from her previous roles. That willingness to do whatever needed to be done in the early days of Daktronics has stayed with Nancy all these years.
Marlo Jones greatly appreciates all that Nancy has done during her time at Daktronics. “Nancy hasbeen very helpful, knowledgeable, and always willing to find a way to solve a customer request or need,” said Marlo. “Through work in various roles in both sales and service, including recently with the Construction Management group, Nancy has enhanced our ability to provide salespeople with better information to quote projects. I wish you the best in retirement and thank you for all you have done for me and many others during the last 35 years.”
As Nancy looks ahead to her days of retirement, she doesn’t see herself slowing down. Volunteer work is very important to her, along with her family. She expects to keep herself busy helping her two children and three grandchildren. She would also like to tackle some projects she’s been too busy to attend to, and maybe some travel as well. While she’ll still have a schedule of sorts, she’s looking forward to having some flexibility in her life.
Nancy’s Daktronics life can be summed up in two words: learning and opportunity. “Life is ever learning. You always have that opportunity to learn from the people around you. And it doesn’t matter who they are, and what they do – there’s something they know that you don’t,” she said. “To learn these new things keeps you energized. It keeps you going, keeps you excited.” She has even learned a few things from working her with grandchildren. Because of her children and grandchildren, she’s traveled to more places and done more things than she would have done otherwise. “Life is full of opportunities.”
“Thank you to all the people who have helped me over the years,” Nancy said. “I have enjoyed working with many teams and being part of completing formidable tasks.”
Thank you for your 35 dedicated years to Daktronics, Nancy. Congratulations on your retirement!
This article is by Christianne Beringer
in Employee Communications.