Employee Spotlight: The Best Advice Kyle Otte Ever Got
Kyle Otte recalls the best advice his father could have ever given him – advice he’s passed onto his own kids. His father said, “I don’t care what you do, as long as you:
provide for your family
do something that is legal and ethical
I don’t care if you are the President or a janitor long as you do those three things.”
Today, Kyle is Kloeckner’s SE Regional Fabrication Sales Manager servicing Georgia, Virginia, Florida, and the Carolinas.
How It All Started: Working Hard
Kyle grew up in Southwest Chicago and Iowa witnessing his father in sales service centers, and as a Transportation Manager working with railroad and trucking companies. Taking his father’s advice to heart, Kyle pursued a career in the metals industry in 1999.
He was young, working trucks and cranes 2nd shift, and married with two small daughters when he started going to night school. He learned how to read blueprints, earned a degree, and became a machine operator.
Mentor and Lifelong Friend
Then, Kyle took an inside sales position for fabrication at Olympic Steel. He was working under his manager, Jeff, and with Jeff’s guidance, Kyle was doing pretty well for himself.
Jeff was honest enough to see Kyle’s potential and also where he could improve. Kyle was vocal about wanting to grow in the industry, and expressed interest in transitioning into outside sales. However, Kyle struggled to feel confident and comfortable with public speaking – a fundamental skill for an outside sales role.
One day, Kyle found himself at a library at lunchtime because of Jeff and asked him, “So, what are we doing at a library, Jeff? I’m hungry.”
It’s past noon and Jeff had invited Kyle out for lunch, sparing all the details about the place or plan. This “lunch” would prove a pivotal moment in Kyle’s career, and Jeff a lifelong friend.
Turns out, Jeff brought Kyle to a library to attend a Toastmasters meeting. Toastmasters is an international education nonprofit that teaches public speaking and leadership skills. They offer a close-knit networking platform in which to build up these workplace competencies.
Kyle dove headfirst into the opportunity. Within his first six months to a year participating in the local club in Iowa, Kyle became the President. Shortly after that he became the Regional VP. Most recently, Kyle started a Toastmasters club in South Carolina. And Jeff? Jeff attended Kyle’s daughter’s high school graduation.
The Best Part of Working in Metals
In addition to the lifelong relationships, one of the perks of being in the metals industry is the sense of pride that comes along with providing essential goods and fabrication services to modern society. “The thing that I can’t get my head around,” Kyle remarks excitedly, “is who woke up one day and figured out how to make steel?!”
It’s everywhere. And seeing the trucks go down the road with parts that Kloeckner cuts and supplies gives Kyle a deep feeling of satisfaction and awe, “I mean, you look at how big these steel mills are, the innovation, science, and ideas that go into making this – it’s massive.”
Furthermore, Kloeckner has the equipment, the network, and the visualization team to streamline customer operations with material, operations, products, and locations. The way Kyle sees it, Kloeckner is “helping landlocked businesses grow because we’re set up to do that.”
On Being a Twin
“There’s two of me,” jokes Kyle. His identical twin brother works in the Navy and lives in Virginia. Kyle is older by a single minute – an important point, absolutely – but it doesn’t change the fact that the two of them share an inexplicable connection. It shows up less in terms of feeling each other’s pain or having a psychic understanding that other twins might have. For Kyle and his brother, twin life shows up in specific shared mannerisms, food preferences, and interests.
For example, while visiting their parent’s house recently, without any intention behind it, both Kyle and his twin, opted only for the lasagna and breadsticks (no salad). Then, they sat on the same side of the table, carrying the same posture throughout. Maybe the best part is that neither one would have noticed their similarities. But of course, both of their wives did.
Sara Montijo is a writer for Kloeckner Metals. She graduated with honors from NYU and has previously facilitated multimedia programming and worked alongside renowned chefs. Her friends call her a time warp.