Salesman to COO, Omega Morgan’s Erik Zander

By D.Ann Shiffler30 November 2021

A consummate salesman and ultimate people person, Omega Morgan’s Erik Zander embraces his job, his colleagues and his clients.

Selling commercial fuel and lubricants was not a career path that Erik Zander could fully embrace. Growing up in a rural farm community, he always thought he wanted to get back into farming.

Erik Zander, Chief Operating Officer, Omega Morgan

Based in Portland, OR, Omega Morgan was one of his customers when he sold fuel products. In time he became friends with the Omega Morgan leadership, and he grew to admire the company’s culture.

“Specifically, it was their work ethic and customer-first mentality,” he said. “The team offered me a job and I jumped at the opportunity. In my head I figured if I wasn’t going to drive a tractor all day long, I might as well work for a company that lifted and moved industry on a daily basis. Someone out there makes the zipper, and this industry gets you in behind the scenes of all these great companies on a daily basis to see how things are made.”

A market opportunity

Omega Morgan was started in 1991 by Jerry and Brian Morgan as a machinery moving company. The two cousins had been working in the rigging industry since they were in their teens, and they saw an opportunity in the market to start a business. At 27 and 24 respectively, they both had about 10 years of field experience running machinery moving jobs. Jerry Morgan is still with the company today, and he runs the renewables group.

In his 13th year with the company, Zander started out as a salesman for Omega Morgan’s small heavy haul division.

“About a year after I started, we decided to shift our focus from general heavy haul into more specialized transportation,” he said. “This group had an all-hands-on deck approach and really helped me grow as an individual.”

While he continued to sell, he also got involved in estimating projects and managing projects. He also likes the field work.

“From there I had the opportunity to work with my peers to focus on growing the business,” he said. “Together we launched our renewables division, millwright and industrial services division, our brokerage division and our crane division.”

Zander was running the sales teams for a few of the new divisions until 2021, when he was moved into the chief operating officer position. He has seen the company through a lot of growth.

“The last decade has been an all-out sprint for us,” he said. “I think the first five to six years we were really focused on adding core competencies to our business so we could be a true full-service provider across the entire supply chain – port to pad. These last four years we have been working on growing our business in new regions through new greenfield locations and some merger and acquisitions.”

I met Erik early on in his career with Omega Morgan. He is one of the most responsive and responsible people in this industry. He’s one of those people who will respond to an email late at night and early in the morning. He is a people person who is genuinely concerned about his customers, co-workers, friends and pretty much anyone in his path.

As well, he is incredibly astute when it comes to lifting, moving and rigging. He knows what needs to be done and how to do it. Plus, interestingly, he is a consummate salesman. He will make you want to buy what he’s selling. And what he is selling is among the best in the business.

You always seem so excited about your work and like what you do. What keeps you engaged?

The people I work with (both internal and external). I love the fact that this industry values ingenuity and service. Industry continues to push the limits on what can be done, and I have an opportunity to work for a company that says “yes” first. Every day is a new opportunity for us to solve a problem.

On Omega Morgan’s most recent winning SC&RA Job of the Year, COO Erik Zander helped out a couple of nights in the field, working with the crew to build a bridge jumping system.

What is your role on a typical SC&RA Job of the Year-type project?

Over the years it has changed. I used to be the guy selling, estimating and helping manage the project. On our recent project, the crew was kind enough to let me help a couple of nights in the field – building the bridge jumping system. After the fact I work with our marketing team to build the story on the project for the presentation.

What distinguishes Omega Morgan in the markets it serves?

Our people. When we bring people on to join our team, we are hiring to be part of the company not a division. We don’t just hire a truck driver. We hire someone that is willing to learn and work across all our segments. This allows us to provide a deep labor force to our customers and steady work for our people. These folks care about what we do, and it shows in their work.

Our approach. Our in-depth service offerings allow us to make sure we utilize the proper set of tools (or divisions) to complete the work in an efficient manner for our customer. Sometimes a crane is not the best tool for the job but if you only have cranes that is what you pitch to your customer. We challenge our team to look at all the tools we have before providing a solution. If someone has a large press they need installed we try to offer not only the rigging crews for the install but the transportation, the foundation, the leveling and alignment all under one roof.

Our values. Act with integrity, lead by example, a culture of respect, we stand together, an honest day’s work. These words are on the walls of our offices, and I believe our people (who wrote them) exemplify these on a daily basis.

As you think back on all the projects you’ve accomplished with Omega Morgan, is there one that sticks out as the most challenging or memorable?

Years ago, we moved three large evaporators from Portland to Alberta. The project took about 11 months to plan and after we moved the first of three units a federal court shut down our route forcing us to develop a new plan from scratch in a very short time window. The amount of effort and ingenuity from our team was incredible. We actually entered the job into the JOY competition and ended up losing to another great project. It goes to show you the level of professionalism and expertise in our industry and the SC&RA.

What would you say is your favorite piece of equipment in the Omega Morgan fleet?

I would say it’s either our high-frame trailer or our new perimeter deck 13-axle trailer. In both cases the market did not offer the trailer that we wanted, so we put a team together and designed and built our own trailer, with some help of industry partners. I love the fact that we do this. It allows us to mold our equipment around the customer’s product as opposed to them having to build their product around us.

Has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted the volume of business?

2020 was a good year for us. I think this was mostly because most of our work was in process when the pandemic hit. 2021 Q1 was a slow quarter for us but has picked up over the last two quarters and looks to be ending on a high note. We are hopeful for 2022 but still nervous about all 490 pages of the new ETS from OSHA and how we will efficiently comply.

How has the pandemic changed the way a typical job is performed?

Nothing major. Now that the supply chain has caught up, we are able to provide all the necessary PPE for the jobs and our operations team has adjusted to accommodate for the new rules as they come out.

What is your business philosophy?

We wake up every day excited to solve our customers’ complex equipment moving problems. Using a mix of technical expertise, project management, engineering and good old-fashioned American know-how, we are the trusted, reliable partner that safeguards our customers’ equipment and employees.

Omega Morgan helps the economy go. And we do it with passion, intelligence, strength and trust.

What do you do during your downtime?

Try to keep up with my four-year-old son who never runs out of energy and my six-year-old daughter who can’t decide if she is going to be a ballerina, a cowgirl or a boss. Lately she has been focusing on the boss part with the four-year-old and the dog. Not sure either of them views her as a leader yet!

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