Cars, trucks and tarps

Fabric wasn’t Glenn Ray’s thing, but all things automotive or mechanical were. It was a small step, rather than a leap, for Ray to move from working in sales and the automotive industry on various levels to a sales position with Pulltarps Manufacturing in El Cajon, Calif. Although Pulltarps wasn’t automotive, “it had to do with transportation and a new type of product and industry that I hadn’t been exposed to before,” Ray says.

It must have been a good fit. Ray has been with the company for 15 years, moving up to sales manager and, as the company expanded its product line, Ray handled the marketing as well as the manufacturing of the metal components. “We all wear a lot of hats,” he says, but with the growth of the company, he’s recently hired someone to take over his duties in the manufacturing area so he can concentrate on marketing.

“The years that I spent managing the sales department and the direct contact I had with a lot of our customers have been really helpful,” he says. “I’m still applying the things that I learned at that time.”

Getting it right

“Fabrics are a key part of what we’re marketing,” he says. Knowing just what kinds of fabrics the customer needs is an important part of Ray’s job. “We’ve had customers that handle loads that can be hot, abrasive, sticky. Some commodities have to be kept extremely dry, and some are in extremely high wind conditions,” he says. “All of those things need to be taken into consideration.”

What’s important is to understand what the customer is picturing. “You have to ask enough questions that when they “open the box” they have what they had in mind. You can’t make any assumptions.” The creative process appeals to Ray’s mechanical nature. “The application is always a challenge to get it right. Having a good solution to fill their needs, that’s what’s fun about it,” he says.

Fast cars for fun

“Putting stuff together; taking stuff apart,” has always been an interest of Ray’s. He’s raced cars and motorcycles all his life and still gets to the track for some high-speed recreation. “I’ve always had something to race, not at a professional level, but as a hobby,” he says. This is serious fun, too; he counts a Lotus and a Ferrari among the cars he’s raced. And he’s had some close calls, including blowing up the engine on his Corvette a year ago at about 130 mph. Fortunately, nobody was hurt, but “that was probably my worst day at the track,” he says. Generally, the track has been nothing but wonderful experiences. “The thing that really comes through is that they all tend to be even-tempered, really nice people,” he says. “That’s what I like about the racing community.”

Getting to the track just now and then doesn’t quite do it, however, so he drives his Corvette Z06 to work every day. “For years I had the play car in the garage,” he says. “I looked at it more than I got to drive it. I like this a lot better.”

By Janet Preus, editor of Specialty Fabrics Review.