Q&A: Jay Traylor, Krys Slovacek

Inside MHI

The people who work at MHI and its WERC division are the gears that keep the association rolling. They ensure MHI continues to be a valuable association and resource for people involved in the industry, and do so with wit, competence and a smile on their face. The goal of this column in MHI Solutions magazine is to give readers a glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes at MHI and “meet” the people who make it a successful hub for everyone involved in the material handling industry.

For this issue, Jay Traylor and Krys Slovacek give us a peek into what they do, how they do it, what drives them and what makes them happy after a long, productive day at work.

jay traylor

Jay Traylor, Inventory Services Coordinator, MHI

What are the best skills that you bring to your position at MHI?

Organization. I do like that aspect of the job. Organization is never-ending, but it is that kind of work that I like to do. It keeps the engine going! Also, communication skills are important. I have been here 25 years and over the years I’ve found that, as at any kind of operation, it is important to have open lines of communication.

Who are two people you admire in the industry and what have you learned from them?

Patrick Claire. He works at the company that runs our trade show and is great when it comes to coordinating the material at the show. I’ve never met anyone like him. Also, Carol Miller. I’ve worked with her since I’ve been here. She has been a good friend over the years. I have a lot of respect for her.

What’s a typical day like for you?

With COVID, nothing is typical anymore! I am in office operations and do mailing, shipping and inventory. I am involved in the trade shows, as well. I make sure the inventory is all in order.

What aspect of the industry is most intriguing to you?

I’ve always been kind of into how it all works. I didn’t even know what the word logistics meant when I first started working at MHI. Over the years, I have found that is one of the most intriguing things. The last couple of years, that has come out even more, especially with the delivery of the vaccine for the COVID-19 virus. The supply chain for the grocery industry is intriguing too.

Do you have any unique skills or talents that most people don’t know about?

I can tell a good story! I can take the smallest thing and make it into a big story.

On Sunday mornings, you can usually find me…

…at church, until COVID. Now we watch it online.

What is your favorite sports team?

Washington’s football team, formerly the Redskins and now the Commanders. That is my team!

What are some causes you care about?

I’ve done some outreach work and volunteer work, such as at Crisis Assistance Ministry in Charlotte. People go there that need assistance with bills. I’ve done all types of things as a volunteer, from folding and collecting clothes to handing out coffee. I enjoy volunteer work. When things stopped in 2020, it bothered me a lot that we couldn’t be involved in helping people in the same way.

krys slovacek

Krys Slovacek, Director of Events and Strategy, WERC

What was your first impression of this industry, and has it changed since then?

I was fortunate enough to get to meet WERC and MHI members within about a month of starting my job here. Both groups proved to be warm and welcoming, smart and curious, and focused on improving what was within their control. They’re problem solvers and team players. My impression of the industry is that it has a bright future if these folks are representative of the kind of people at its heart.

What are the best skills that you bring to your position at MHI?

As director of events for WERC, I bring a passion for serving our members. Every organization is different—has a different personality and different needs—and discovering those needs and that personality is something I take pride in. Getting to know how best to serve allows us to focus on what really matters to our members and those who support us.

What’s a goal you want to accomplish in your role at MHI?

Having just achieved my initial goal—a successful first WERC Conference—I am now focused on improving upon that with the next one! I would also like to discover how WERC can provide value to MHI beyond the conference, and how WERC’s members can derive even more value from MHI.

What aspect of the industry is most intriguing to you?

I’m still so new to the industry, I remain intrigued and confounded by most of it! I’ve been fortunate to have an amazing Conference Committee to lean on and learn from throughout the planning of the WERC Conference. I think the thing that most surprised me, but shouldn’t have, is how much technology is involved in warehousing and the supply chain. I wouldn’t have guessed it, but it seems obvious to me now, and there’s a growing need for it.

On Sunday mornings, you can usually find me…

…drinking coffee on my back porch watching the hummingbirds and finches at my backyard feeders. Actually, that’s where you’ll find me most early mornings. I love birds and have a variety of feeders in my yard to attract as many birds as possible. My two cats are very supportive of this hobby, as well.

What are you happiest doing when you’re not working?

I love to travel, and while we haven’t been able to do much of it the past couple years, my family enjoys seeing new places. We have stayed mostly close to home lately, but spent some extra time exploring Atlanta after MODEX, and enjoying the beaches in Michigan in June.

What is your favorite sports team?

I am a huge Cubs fan. My mom grew up a Cubs fan, and she raised me to love them, too. Which means that I grew up getting my heart broken by the likes of Ryne Sandberg and Andre Dawson as they came so close to the World Series and couldn’t quite pull it off. I happened to be working a conference in Chicago when the Cubs won one of the World Series home games in 2016 and celebrated with the crowd outside the ballpark. What a thrilling moment for Cubs fans!

What event/excursion would you consider adventurous or especially meaningful?

This one is actually coming up. For my husband’s 50th birthday, I was meant to surprise him with a trip to Greece. Unfortunately, his 50th birthday occurred two weeks after the world shut down in 2020, and we haven’t been able to take the trip yet. When we go (fingers crossed for next year), it will be two weeks of learning about the history of Greece, seeing the present and the future of the country, and eating incredible Greek food. Until then, we are teaching our daughter how to appreciate Greek culture and foods here at home, in anticipation of the trip!