Soaring to the Top

Kevin FalconerI’m the third generation to work at my family’s business, Minneapolis Oxygen Company (Minneapolis, MN). I started at the company by filling CO2 and painting cylinders when I was 14. I continued to spend my summers there until graduating from Minnesota State University, Mankato, with a degree in business management, after which I became a full-time employee in the customer service department. Now 30, I’ve been manager of retail operations for the past four years.

As manager of retail operations, I spend time overseeing the customer service department and the retail stores, while also filling in for people when vacation or sick days come about. I love helping our walk-in customers and fielding phone calls at the customer service counter. I’m also in charge of advertising and marketing, so I put together our sales fliers and regularly provide updated content for the online shopping portion of our company’s website. I also get involved with the software solutions and phone systems we use.

I supervise five people. Working with many different personalities is fun, but it’s a challenge. I’ve learned you can’t manage by the book; you have to be flexible in your management style and put yourself in the other person’s shoes while still working within company policy. We pride ourselves on having the flexibility expected of a small independent business while having the capabilities of a larger company.

Recently, I’ve been learning the duties of Minneapolis Oxygen’s Vice President of Operations Lou Ottosen. When I first started at the company, Lou helped me learn the business. He continues to impact my career by teaching me how to manage people, purchase cylinders and plant supplies, and negotiate and work with other distributors and vendors.

Learning Lou’s responsibilities is preparing me to one day succeed my father as company president. My father, Lou, and Jim Warrick, our vice president of sales, have been here for the past 30 years, and they’re all heading toward retirement. To prepare for that transition, I’m learning all I can, including lessons from other GAWDA members. I recently became a trustee on GAWDA’s Group Life Insurance Board, and I always look forward to Annual Convention, the Spring Management Conferences and individual Regional Meetings, where I can make contacts, ask questions and learn how to be better at what I do.

With teachers like that, I’m looking forward to having my own 30 years of success.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Kevin Falconer Meet the Author
Kevin Falconer is manager of retail operations and is the third generation of his family to work at Minneapolis Oxygen in Minneapolis, Minnesota.