Jeff Michaels understands his clients’ customers’ needs…Because he is one

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Note: This article originally appeared on The Power Spectrum, the official blog of Cummins Power Generation

For Jeff Michaels his work and passion for racing are inseparable. Jeff, is a Regional Sales Manager of commercial mobile generator sets for Cummins Onan. Majority of his time is spent in the office at Cummins Onan, working with distributors and factories to ensure the appropriate solutions are being used for Rvs, yachts, truck conversions and more. During his free time you can see him at a track either racing or helping his son.

“As a teen, I was pretty competitive,” said Jeff. “I started helping a local guy fix up his drag car in my spare time. Before you know it, anything I could race, I did.” And so began a 40-year relationship with the racetrack, one quarter-mile at a time.

Michaels-1In 1973, Jeff bought his first drag car. He spent weekdays in the office – but on evenings and weekends you could have found him at drag strips in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area where he is still at it today.

“Noise is the nature of the beast at a track,” he said. “From the engines to the crew and equipment noise in the pit, you can’t escape it, and to a certain extent spectators and participants get used to it. At night, though, the last thing racers and their crew want to do is lie down and listen to their neighbors’ generators all night. There are a few different brands of generators crews and spectators use in their RVs and race trailers. But when it’s one of ours, no one even knows it’s there.”

Cummins Onan commercial mobile generators operate at sound levels ranging from 70 dB to the mere 68 dB of the line’s largest unit — the diesel RV QD 10000/12500 — they are significantly quieter than competitors’ generators. This reduced noise is due in large part to the way in which the engine and mechanical noise are isolated from the enclosure. The generators also utilize zig zag-shaped air channels to significantly reduce noise by the time it’s finally projected away from the enclosure.

So does Jeff use a Cummins Onan generator at the track?

“Of course. I’m known around the track as the Cummins Onan guy. If someone has a question about their generator — ‘Go see Jeff. He’ll know the answer.’” And if he doesn’t, he will find someone who does.

At the track he’s not just a fellow racer, he’s known as “that Cummins Onan guy,” that helps his customers in any way possible. In fact, many of those customers are also his competitors, so it’s no surprise he’s built great relationships with them.

“We share in each other’s successes. It’s a tight-knit community,” he said.

Michaels-2-e1443108451786Jeff recently had the opportunity to share one of his own successes. For years, he raced because he enjoyed the thrill of the competition, but he also had one real goal in mind – win the NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd, Minnesota. In 2014, he and his son Steve did just that.

“That win was a bucket list item,” he said. “I could hang it up right now if I wanted and be satisfied with my career.” But he’s not quite ready to leave the track behind yet. He still spends the majority of his free time there, working the crew for Steve, who now sits behind the wheel of Jeff’s car.

Don’t tell him you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. He’s constantly seeking new opportunities at the track that he takes back to Cummins Onan’s factory.

“Right now, we’re really focused on reaching families new to racing and the RV lifestyle — families just like my son, daughter-in-law and grandkids — helping them understand the benefits of an installed Cummins Onan generator over another portable generator brand,” he said.




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