Employee Spotlight: Andy Curriston, Engineering Manager

Ever wondered who steers our engineering endeavors to success? Meet Andy Curriston, our Engineering Manager! Join us as we shine the spotlight on the strategic mind, problem-solving prowess, and collaborative spirit that makes Andy Curriston an integral part of our engineering dream team at ACE Controls.

What Got You Into Engineering?

Back in high school I enjoyed math and science. I worked with my dad when I was younger and solved a lot of issues around the house of any shape and size. After doing so much home and auto repair, engineering was an obvious career path for me.

What’s It Like Coming To ACE Controls?

I used to travel a lot in my old position. And anytime I traveled, it was not a fun experience. You’re working extremely long hours with people you don’t know very well. And it was a challenge. You know, you were just trying to get through it to get back home. But even though I do a decent amount of travel here at ACE, it’s a totally different experience. When I travel now, I’m meeting with people that I know, we’re covering topics that are interesting, and sometimes even training for the Innovation Race, which is all about generating new ideas for the company. So all of these trips have been really exciting.

They’ve been really enjoyable as learning experiences, opportunities to meet with other people within Stabilus and to get to know more of the company. And when you get home, you have these relationships that you’ve built and you continue to foster. So I’ve really enjoyed being part of that process and getting to know more of the global community. 

And along with that is the training that you have to seek out a little bit. The training isn’t just going to automatically come to you, but as long as you’re open to it, I think there’s a lot of availability. I found that really useful after moving into a managerial role, a new industry and a new company. It’s been a big change for me personally, but I’ve found a lot of support and resources out there to help me along the way.

How Long Have You Been At ACE Controls?

I just started in January, so about 11 months ago. I’ve really enjoyed working at ACE so far. They do a great job of including people and making it feel like a family rather than a company. People really enjoy coming into work and collaborating with each other. On top of that, I think that they have a really good view towards the future. 

I work pretty closely with Chris Niemiec, the general manager here. Anytime I come to him with a new idea or have an issue that I want to solve in a certain way, he’s always willing to work with me. He’s happy to try out new things and just wants to have the best company possible. And I see that culture expand across the board. From the top down, we have people that are willing to invest in new ideas and like to see them pursued. It’s been a really refreshing experience for me. That’s not always the case with our industry, where people want to stick to the tried and true methods. 

Most Surprising Use Case For An ACE Product?

I didn’t realize when I started how much work we do with amusement park rides. We provide a lot of the safety stops and emergency deceleration on amusement park rides. It’s kind of a cool thing to say that we do business with rides that people know and can pull up some YouTube videos that show the roller coaster roll in and then drop down. It’s fun to have something to show people and say, “Hey, when that drops, we’re the ones that stop it”. It’s kind of cool to have something with that level of visibility to the public. A lot of times you can show people a picture of your product in a factory, but that isn’t very exciting.

What Does A Day Look Like For You?

First, I think as a manager, it’s more of a managerial role than an engineering role. There are a lot of technical topics that I sit in on but mostly what I do is provide the engineers here with the resources they need to come up with answers or make decisions on the topics that we go through. On top of that is working to link our team with other parts of the business. We do a lot of work with sales and purchasing, and we’re very closely entwined with the production process. So a large part of my day is making sure that all those connections are strong, that all of our processes are efficient. To be honest, I think that’s the core of a manager position anywhere. Ours just has a little bit more math involved.

What Is Your Favorite Part Of The Job?

I really like the ability to stretch my curiosity. Like I mentioned before, there’s a lot of opportunity here to come up with our own solutions and pursue them. So I’ve really been able to come up with my own ideas or ask my team for their ideas. And anytime we’ve found one that we really want to pursue, there’s never been any serious roadblocks in getting it done. Having that freedom and support to explore curiosity, not only myself, but as a group, has been really nice.

What Is A Project, Solution, Or Design That You’re Most Proud Of?

I haven’t worked on the design too much here, but I’ve done a lot of process improvements. I think the biggest one is probably our project tracking. When I showed up, it was kind of a nebulous process. We had some steps in place and we tried to follow them, but it was mostly through documentation in a folder. So I implemented a new system using Microsoft Teams and run our project management there. Utilizing that to track these projects and making sure we’re staying on time and budget, has made things a lot easier. I think we still have a few steps to go until we have a solid foundation, but it’s a good start.


Any New Projects Or Designs You’re Excited About?

A big topic for my team is innovation, not only at the engineering level, but for ACE as a whole. We have a lot of mature product designs, so working to add to our catalog has been a challenge for me as I’ve gotten to know the role better. Trying to implement a process for us to create new ideas, develop those into projects, and then follow those projects through to series production is a challenge. We’ve really moved the needle on new products coming out of our group. And while we haven’t seen any series production units come out yet, we’re starting to get close.


What Would You Say Is Your Management Or Leadership Style?

I think I have a very collaborative style. I try to be a leader to the group, but I’m not trying to be a dictator for the group. I work closely with everyone, not only within my group, but within other groups to help understand everyone’s opinion and how they’re affected. Decisions may come down to me at the end of the day but I really rely on expertise and input from the team to inform those decisions.


Fun Question- If You Had An Unlimited Budget And Time, What Would You Want ACE Controls To Build?

We make some pretty cool products already, but I think if I had an unlimited budget I would probably develop a testing rig for our large bore products. That’s a gap we have and I think it would be a fun thing to build and a fun thing to play with once it was in place. We make a lot of large bore products that can withstand just insanely high impact energies and we don’t have the capability right now to test that. So I think it would be really interesting to see something like that in place and how our product holds up to it.