XCELIS® CHAMPION: Derrick Okull, Technical Service Manager
Ethanol is in Derrick Okull's family tree.
His father is a sugar cane farmer and agronomist for one of Kenya’s sugar mills. While studying food science at Penn State University, Okull spent his breaks immersing himself in his father’s work so he could see real-world applications of what he was studying.
“I would head over to my father’s plant and spend all my time in the labs to get an understanding of how everything was converted: from harvesting the crop to getting the molasses and making the ethanol,” Okull recalls.
Today, this early passion for the family business is reflected in how he helps his customers understand the scope and structure of their operations far beyond his product portfolio. “It's not just that we have a product to sell," he says. "It's 'here's where your process is, here's where you want it to be, and this is how we're going to get there.'”
“I make sure the customer sees the results they expect to see.”
Case in point: When a longtime customer struggled with mechanical issues in their corn oil extraction process, Okull brought in experts, asked DuPont engineers to redesign equipment, and performed exhaustive troubleshooting over an eight-month period. The result was a major increase in efficiency from 50 to 95 percent.
"I want my customers to see me as an industry expert," he notes. "My goal is to be available whenever they need me—taking our relationship from 'vendor-customer' to a true partnership.”