Meet Gail O'Keefe
Gail O’Keefe is a Sales Engineer for the NY/NJ Yaskawa territory. O’Keefe, who has had a long history of success in our industry, recently took some time to share her thoughts on how she built her reputation as the “Drives Queen.”
I have been in the business my whole life. Shortly after I graduated from high school in Bernardsville, NJ, I started out working at Longo Industrial, a large EASA motor shop, for 20 years. That’s where I learned about equipment from the inside out—from motors, pumps, switchgear, and gearmotors.
From Longo, I moved to Schneider Electric as a Drive Application Engineer working with other upstream equipment including substations for about 14 years. Then, about five years ago, I found my home—and a great team—at Yaskawa.
After all this time, I like to think that I am making the world more efficient one VFD at a time! And I also like to think that I have become a trusted advisor to my clients. No matter what they need—applications, product support, or project management—I make sure they know I’ve heard them. I may not always have the answer immediately, but I always find out and get back to them promptly.
My ultimate goal is to make Yaskawa America, Inc. the most sought-after variable speed drive manufacturer in my territory, and it looks like my hard work is paying off. For example, I am extremely proud that we won the 86th Street Tunnel Exhaust Fan Project in New York City.
I truly love what I do: design, education, visiting all types of manufacturing facilities. I especially enjoy sharing knowledge with my clients and team members. And because I believe strongly that skill-building and lifelong learning are incredibly important, some of the achievements at Yaskawa that I am most proud of are:
- Running Consultant Lunch & Learns
- Facilitating Contractor Training
- Setting up client visits to our production plants to see world-class manufacturing
With all this work, you might think that I never have time for a personal life, but I do. One of my favorite sayings is: “Work hard, play harder!” This is easy for me to do since I live on a lake in northern New Jersey with my boyfriend of 13 lucky years and our two dogs, Tug and Mackie.
The best thing about living on the lake is that it changes every day. I get to see bald eagles, herons, and other wildlife. I am an avid nature photographer and have had some of my work published.
I also like to make sure I give back to the community. Every year, I get a Christmas tree for my deck. I take personal requests to hand-make bows with special notes from people through social media. The requests can be something simple like “May every child have a gift this holiday” or prayers for loved ones. Then I hang the bows with the notes on the tree so they can be blessed. In return, all I ask is for the people who make the requests to pay it forward and do something nice for others in need.