Greg Stough Senior Service Analyst
Greg, welcome to the ESD team at MKS. Rumor has it that you are a fellow alumn of the mighty University of Oregon. I promise not to spend our whole interview talking about the Ducks.
Yes, that’s right. I went to Cal Poly Pomona for a bachelor's in physics. Then I went up north and became a duck. So right after finishing my undergrad classes I had to be packed and hit the road for Eugene. Unfortunately, I didn't even get a chance to walk in my bachelor's undergrad ceremony. Yeah, but it is what it is.
What got you excited about the University of Oregon program?
I was excited about this Master's internship program through the University of Oregon. Not only was it a chance to further my experience in the lab with increased experiments in physics, deepening my understanding of optics, but the program combined science with an opportunity to develop my professional skills. Specifically we worked on practicing interviews and resume building, and after the summer quarter, the Unversity arranged a big interview day with all their corporate sponsors.
I've likened it to, you know, speed dating for a job. So it was intimidating and intense to have only 30-40 minutes with each company. And ESI was on the list and I got to meet a representative from engineering.
That's great you connected with an ESI engineer. We currently do a scholarship partnership with the program. Where did you end up taking your internship?
My internship ended up being in the Seattle area in Redmond, WA, with Microvision, a consumer electronics company. I completed the nine-month internship, received the Master's Degree in Applied Physics from the University of Oregon, and then continued with Microvision for another two years as an optical test engineer.
We were working to qualify different components of a portable laser projector product they were trying to get off the ground.
Let's dive into your interesting career background and how it has slightly shaped your personal life. I even hear you have been a member of the MKS family in the past?
Yeah, because this is where my professional and personal life mix a little bit. So my last year of undergrad at Cal Poly Pomona, I met a lady who would become my wife.
She was headed to Bozeman, MT, for her Ph.D. in microbiology, and throughout these 2 1/2 years, I was in Oregon and Seattle. I was able to connect and network and ended up joining the Newport family in 2014.
They had recently purchased a small company in Montana called ILX Lightwave, and in August 2014 I came onboard as a field service engineer. I was able to transition this position to a product marketing specialist, so I got involved in the complete business strategy of these product lines from the sales order to the day product ships. In addition, I got the opportunity to be involved in the product development project and the marketing communication activities to support the product lines.
Which organization got you involved deeper in the customer service function of product management?
Again, kind of the intersection of personal and professional. In May of 2019 my wife graduated with her Ph.D. in microbiology and had an opportunity at Emory University in Atlanta. The job at Emory is what brought us to Atlanta three years ago.
Then in January of 2020, I joined Carl Zeiss microscopy. They recruited me for a regional field service engineer position, so I supported customers in the Southeast region. So, I was part of a regional field service team from the Carolinas and Tennessee down to the Gulf.
It was mainly supporting laser microscopy systems. And so, there were a lot of biological R&D applications with labs at large universities.
I got more experience operating a world-class service organization, so seeing those processes and procedures put in place to provide the service was eye-opening and exciting. And this experience is what I am excited to bring to the ESD service team and grow the service business.
What is the first thing you are tackling for the ESD team?
One of the main initiatives is to help manage the belts, plates, and tooling product line. Which is a selection of replacement parts, and consumables for some of our legacy MLCC systems.
Many customers are still utilizing these older systems and keeping them operational, so there is demand for these replacement parts. So we are assessing pricing strategies, how to organize the product line, and growth opportunities. I think there are some exciting opportunities.
What keeps you busy when not working to create the world's greatest customer service offering?
I was trying to think of a cool artistic way to say it. The love of the outdoors was awakened in me when I relocated to Bozeman, MT in 2014. So I definitely got into camping and day hikes, and you know, we were only an hour and a half from Yellowstone National Park.
And so my wife and I enjoy getting outside and enjoying state parks, national parks and monuments. We actually have a little stamp book from the Department of Interior to collect our stamps from each park visit which makes for a lot of great memories. So we look forward to returning to sunny California and getting to the outdoors.
Was Greg, the kid, into the outdoors or sports?
The love of the outdoors blossomed later, and I would say the same is true for sports. Growing up, I skateboarded and was an active kid outside. I played a couple of years of high school soccer, which was fun but I never really sat down and watched sports. It wasn't until I joined Microvision in Seattle that I got into watching sports.
There were a couple of my colleagues who were Huskies, right? So, of course, word got out that I went to UofO. Luckily those years, the rivalry was in our favor. So yeah, they couldn't tease me too badly.
And then those were the same years where the Seahawks were soaring, so to speak. That camaraderie with sports made it a fun bandwagon to jump on and see. So I've been tracking the Seahawks and even the city’s MLS team, the Seattle Sounders.
In September of 2019, pre-COVID, when we were living in Atlanta the Seahawks played the Falcons, and so my wife and I did grab some tickets and went to the new stadium, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. That was cool.
Greg, thank you for taking the time to discuss your career background and the activities you enjoy outside the office. And welcome back to MKS. I hope to meet you in person at the Portland Photon Campus soon. That is one smart household with a Ph.D. in Biology and a Master's in Applied Physics.