There are the usual qualifications candidates for local office work into their stump speeches: Long-standing community connections. Previous political experience. Business acumen. Selfless service to the community.
Andy Nelson says he has it all covered. But he’s hoping his years of working in field service will steer him into the mayor’s office of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisc., population 18,000.
Nelson, who worked as a senior field service engineer for Siemens’ healthcare division for five years, repairing chemical chemistry equipment in much of Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, finds parallels between successfully running a service business and a city.
“The biggest thing in field service was communication and customer service,” Nelson says. “It’s the same in politics. They’re looking for personalized service … At Siemens, the focus was that at all costs, you’ve got to take care of the customers — and not just for this one problem. Don’t wait for the problem to escalate. Take care of it right away, and you will have customers for life.”
Nelson, currently an alderman on Wisconsin Rapids’ city council and a local restaurant owner, left field service about a year ago. But he draws upon two requirements of field service in his political career: customer service and creativity.
“In field service, at least at Siemens, you have a territory that’s your own,” Nelson told the SmartVan. “Basically, you’re in small business. After you fix something or you’ve taken care of a large install, you’re constantly in touch with your customer. It’s the same in politics. When something comes up, you’re constantly in touch with your constituents, figuring out how this will impact them.”
The election is April 3. After that, he’ll find out which is harder: public service or field service.