CSIA Interview with PDA President, Joe Snyder

Recently, CSIA interviewed PDA President Joe Snyder about numerous topics concerning the future of the industry. In the candid interview, Joe spoke about what lead him to a career in the control system integration industry as well as why PDA became a member of CSIA amongst many topics.

Below is the full interview:


Q: Why did you choose a career in control system integration?

A: I took some classes while attending Penn State that really piqued my interest. I ended up taking a job with a small control systems integration company right out of school and as they say, the rest is history!
Q: Process and Data Automation is a CSIA Certified control systems integrator. When someone asks, “Why should I hire CSIA Certified?” what would you tell them?

A: It isn’t what we would tell them—it’s what we do tell them. When dealing with clients we begin with education and the CSIA certification is about stability within the business which brings with it minimal risk to the client. For all clients, especially those large scale or longer duration projects, working with a CSIA certified integrator gives a sense of comfort and assurance that things will be done right. The client will not have to worry about the “health” of their provider during the execution of their project.

Q: Why did Process and Data Automation become a member of CSIA?

A: CSIA provides us with industry specific information that we can’t get anywhere else. It’s amazing to be connected to our industry and people who are facing the exact same challenges hundreds of miles away. Membership really does help you run a more professional and successful operation.

Q: What kinds of trends and challenges are you seeing in industrial automation right now?

A: There are many very positive trends right now. You can turn on the TV and see the commercials talking about the convergence of IT and OT and data coming from every device. The challenge of that is that the perception is that all those solutions will be really low cost. So as a business we must be able to balance all of that and make it work.

Q: How has Process and Data Automation grown or changed in the past year and what do you expect for your company in the next 12 to 24 months?

A: We handle the business end very tightly. We put a strategic plan in place several years ago, that we march to and have not wavered from. We expect that we will continue to methodically grow our business using that plan.

Q: In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge facing the automation marketplace today and in the future?

A: I really think of it as the biggest opportunity facing the automation industry. You can drive productivity for people without the huge dollar investment which opens the door for many manufacturers who before, couldn’t afford to invest in the heavy equipment and infrastructure. With today’s technology, they can now afford to use devices that fit in the palm of your hand that give them data they need to run better and more efficiently.

Q: What is the smartest decision your company has made recently?

A: Good question. My answer is twofold: 1. The investment we have made in our people and our management team in order to grow effectively. To grow you must be able to assign responsibility to more than the few people you started the business with. We are not in a geographical location that has lots of highly skilled integrators and because of that, it has pushed us to train our people to become highly skilled.  2. Our investment in our facilities. We have continually invested in training equipment, facilities, and projects that have created equipment for us to use in-house for testing and training all the way up through the training of our project managers who execute those projects. We see these elements as the cornerstones for the success of our business and we will never get away from that philosophy as a company.

Q: What’s unique about how you approach a project?

A: It’s impossible to know this answer for certain as I only know how we do things on a day to day basis but I do think I know why we are successful for our clients. Our company, our project management, our tools and our methodology are always evolving with time -tested PMI, CSIA and such. We are always working to deliver a better product. We are always investing in the both the people and the tools to be better. We win a lot of projects and we believe that many times it is our project methodology that sets us apart.

Q: How much of your business is repeat?

A: Our repeat business on an annual basis is anywhere from 70-80%.

Q: Why do they return?

A: We have a strong track record for project success. Once you have proven that you can effectively handle a project well from beginning to end, people are far more likely to pick up the phone and ask you to return.

Q: How should a customer go about choosing a system integrator?

A: I would practice what I preach. You want to look at the capabilities and credibility of the company offering you the solution, particularly if it is customized because you may not have the opportunity to look at someone who has done that exact thing. Can they prove that they can do what you are looking for them to do? And does their project history say that they can and will do what is being asked of them?