Interview with Andy Leech
Regional Sales Manager, Freedom Scientific
By Erick Dowdy and Brandy Jacobs

Erick: Hi Andy, thanks again for taking the time to discuss your job and life with us. So first off, what is your official job title? Also, can you explain your job?

Andy: My official job title with Freedom Scientific is Regional Manager. I’ve got a seven state territory I’m responsible for overseeing – including Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

My job is to oversee this area in both blindness products and low-vision products. It involves working with dealers to help us mediate in more places than one. I also have to make sure we are targeting all the right people. Generally I have to wear a lot of hats – I could get involved in anything from training to problem solving to customers with issues – essentially the bottom line is that I do what needs to be done to make the territory as successful as possible.

Erick: How long have you had this job?

Andy: I’ve had this job for three years and four months.

Erick: Alright. So how did you find out about this job? Was this something you came out of high school studying or did you just stumble upon it?

Andy: Well, I’ve had several other jobs since I got out of school before this one. At the time I joined Freedom Scientific I was working for a company called EDS (Electronic Data Systems), and while I was there I did software testing and before that, I was a programmer. My company started moving jobs offshore and when a company starts doing that, you have to be prepared for your number to come up, so I started looking for a new job. After I’d updated my resume, I decided to go on the Freedom Scientific website to see if any of my personal technology needed updating before I moved to a new position. While I was on the site, I clicked on the employment section and I found some openings for regional sales managers around the country. That sounded like something I could do, so I looked into it and eventually got the job.

Brandy: What kind of education was required for your job?

Andy: I have a Master’s degree in Business Administration, but I’m sure you could get this job with a Bachelor’s degree and some work experience.

Brandy: Where did you receive your education?

Andy: I got my Bachelor’s in Science at Ohio University in Athens and my Master’s in Business Administration from Clemson University in South Carolina.

Erick: Where did you grow up?

Andy: I grew up in the suburbs of Athens, OH and I went through public school there. I was pretty fortunate – my parents let me do what I wanted and I had some good teachers in school – overall, I had a pretty good upbringing.

Erick: Alright. Well, back to your work…you said you have to travel a lot. How often do you have to travel?

Andy: Well, I’d say three out of four weeks of a month I’m traveling, but it’s not always necessarily the whole week, sometimes just a couple of days.

Brandy: What kind of transportation do you use for traveling?

Andy: When I’m on the east coast I like to use Amtrak, and I fly a lot of the time. If I’m staying around locally, FS allows me to pay people to drive me around. That’s something I had to make sure of before I got the job too, that I could make sure and have transportation to where I needed to go.

Brandy: What kinds of difficulties do you have while traveling?

Andy: Really things have been pretty good for me traveling. I’m on my third guide dog (named Bentley) and he makes it a lot easier to figure out new hotels and all the other places I go on a regular basis. Once in a while I’ll have a problem with a hotel not understanding what’s going on when I bring in the dog, but that’s a rarity. Probably the biggest challenge I have is finding good drivers.

Brandy: What kinds of places do you travel for your job?

Andy: Anywhere there is a need. We target universities, schools and certain aspects of vocational rehab. I even get in front of eye doctors and optometrists. Sometimes I’m working by myself and sometimes I’m working with local dealers. We want the people in their cities to know that we’re not just a company out in Florida, we also have ties to local dealers as well.

Erick: Have you found that you enjoy traveling more after having this job?

Andy: It’s not bad, but sometimes you hate not being at home. Just missing your family and friends, but it comes with the territory for a job like this.

Brandy: What does your work day consist of?

Andy: On the days I’m in the office I’m busy with planning, logistics, phone calls and trying to get a hold of all of my dealers to make sure everything is going alright. We also plan all of our own travel, so I spend time in the office doing that. At times when I’m out, I’m usually meeting with clients. What’s good about this job is that no work day is exactly the same when you’re out of the office.

Erick: What do you like most about your job?

Andy: I like the fact that at the end of the year I can look back and see that because of our technology, we’ve helped people. Either with getting jobs or helping them through their education, our focus at FS is to help people do the things they need to do to be successful.

Brandy: Back to before you worked at FS, what other jobs did you have before this one?

Andy: Well back when I was at Ohio University, I had a bartending job. I had someone show me how to mix things, and after I memorized the locations of everything, it went pretty well. I also worked for Universal Vision Aids, EDS and a few other places before I got this job. It’s not easy though. If you really want to get out there and make it happen, you have to have persistence. But then at least you have something to illustrate your track record for a later job.

Erick: What kinds of assistive technology do you use every day?

Andy: I use JAWS for a screen reader and Open Book for scanning in and reading documents. Sometimes when I travel I use our GPS system, especially when I’m a new area. I use our Braille Display, but not that much, only when I need to do some intense Excel or PowerPoint. I use our navigator with Scan Talk as well, which is a barcode identifier program.

Brandy: What are the latest products FS is offering?

Andy: We’ve got two new products in the low-vision arena. One is our CCTV called the Topaz and a handheld magnifier called the Opal, which will be shipping soon.

Erick: OK. So what kinds of things do you do outside of work? What do you do for fun?

Andy: I like to exercise. I like a little bit of travel, obviously not as much as before this job, but I also am a wine maker and I like a lot of other outdoor activities as well. I like spending time with family and friends too since I’m away so much.

Erick: Well, that’s all the questions we have. Was there anything else you’d like to add?

Andy: I would just encourage people out there that want to get good employment to put in your time in education, take the adaptive technology seriously and don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. There’s always a way if you want to think hard enough and come up with the modifications. I was given some good advice as a young man coming out of Ohio University. I was told that it was important for me to be seen in places people wouldn’t expect to see me and to do things people wouldn’t expect me to do. I really take that advice to heart now.

Erick: Thanks again for taking the time to do this interview.

Andy: It’s been my pleasure.

Andy Leech has been a Regional Sales Manager at Freedom Scientific for over three years. This position requires him to oversee seven states in blindness and low-vision products. Andy’s job has him dealing with many different aspects of his work environment.