IT ALL STARTED WHEN...
That's me, Leonard Knight, front row far right. I graduated from The University of Tennessee in 1991 with a BS in Electrical & Computer Engineering. My third interview was with a recruiter from Allen-Bradley and I loved everything I learned about the company. I was incredibly excited to be invited to a three day trip to Milwaukee, WI for a series of interviews with multiple department heads! The first night I met 30+ other potentials from around the globe and couldn't believe I had made the cut. These were some excellent people. They whittled us down to the eight you see in the photo.
Immediately after accepting the offer, I relocated to Milwaukee, WI to begin training. The first few weeks were all soft skills...how to dress, walk, talk, eat like an Allen-Bradley engineer. Next, we moved into problem solving and time management. Then, we moved into company history and culture. It was amazing to me how much they were investing in us on the front end.
We all relocated to Cleveland, OH to continue training on the gamut of control systems products AB offered. PLCs, HMI, Pushbuttons, Selector switches, Lights, etc. This lasted about 6 months. Then a few of us me, Greg, and John relocated back to Milwaukee for another year of training on Drive Systems in Mequon, WI. We worked with seasoned engineers on paper machines, steel casters, carpet lines, and more. It was amazing.
I continued working for Allen-Bradley and loved every minute of it but in 2000 the entrepreneurial bug finally got the best of me and I started DBR Systems, Inc. Why DBR? Well, I figured I'm building something for my family...my wife Debbie and at that time, my two sons Benjamin and Ryan...DBR.
I've always been very fortunate to get paid to do what I love! Don't tell anyone but I would program PLCs and startup control systems even if they were't paying me ;)
When I first started with Allen-Bradley, I spent about a month in Milwaukee, WI and several evenings in the Clock Tower bar! That time was spent learning company history and soft skills to make us Allen-Bradley representatives.
Next we moved to a little town just East of Cleveland, OH and spent the next 6 months working in the Twinsburg, OH Allen-Bradley offices. We learned everything there is to know about PLCs, Pushbuttons, Selector Switches, Photo Eyes, Operator Interfaces, Wiring devices, and much more!
It was a great time and we had wonderful instructors. I still stay in contact with many of my classmates and a few of my instructors to this day. They have brought me in on some projects and I reach out to them when I need a little inside information!
After finishing our training in Twinsburg, OH, some of us were offered additional training at the Drive Systems Facility in Mequon, WI. I eagerly accepted and moved to Brown Deer, WI with a few of my classmates. The Mequon Drive Systems Facility is AMAZING! The offices were in the front of the building and we had a HUGE testing area in the back of the building where multiple systems were built and tested at the same time. While I was in Mequon we had Paper Machines, Steel Mills, Carpet Lines, Coal, and more being designed, built, and tested before being delivered to the end user.
We were taught everything about Allen-Bradley and ABB drives. I worked on the 1395 DC drive, the 1336 AC drive, the 1352 AC drive and many, many more. We learned about motors, motor starters, and MCCs. We were also trained on the engineering process. AB has processes and standards for everything. There are templates for every kind of system. Every aspect of the system is codified. The drawings, the wiring labels, the instruction comments, the layout of the code...it all means something and is organized based on templates developed over many years. It was VERY cool.
I helped on many systems while in Mequon and even went into the field several times to assist more seasoned project engineers with startups or support of existing systems. I was assigned to a Carpet Coating Line for Shaw Industries that was going to be delivered to Winchester, TN. This was my first real project. I was part of every aspect of the development, client meetings, engineering reviews, staging, testing, and eventually startup. This system ran under a PLC 5/250 with 19 DC drives, 90 AC motors, 12 operator interfaces, and integrated into a Rosemount system for recipes, product tracking and quality control. It was a thing of beauty! I was hooked! I love developing a solution, designing it, building it, delivering it, and breathing life into it! I still can't believe I get paid to do this!