Well, I did it... Transitioned from hobbyist to working in the pinball industry. Crazy right? A series of fortunate events took place to make this happen: I moved to SE Wisconsin, met some great friends in the local pinball scene and pinball media, joined some leagues, started streaming pinball on Twitch, put myself out there and got a job as the tech service manager at American Pinball.
In the past 2 years at API I’ve learned a lot and have helped grow the service reputation to be a pillar of excellence. So much so, that customers are buying more AP titles because of it. Or at least it’s now a positive factor in their decision.
How did I accomplish this? Well, I didn’t do it all alone. I have a great support from Josh Kugler and Joe Schober for anything programing. Dennis Nordman and Zofia Ryan are very helpful whenever I have mechanical or design questions. And the production, quality control and logistics staff for continuous improvement based on customer feedback.
Communication and community involvement has also helped gain consumer confidence. As I said, I stream on twitch.tv/buffalopinball with Ryan Kuiper (Fridays at 8 CST). Ryan has introduced me to lots of pinball media and helped me gain confidence in front of and behind a camera. This exposure to the pinball community makes me more accessible and allows people to get to know me.
In my 2 years with API, I have used those skills and gained new ones to create tech videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9_k0XRo6IbeyeOuQy4Hseg/videos At this point I have more pinball tech videos posted than any other manufacturer (that I know of). I create these to make my job more efficient. I get asked the same questions over and over, so rather that typing out, talking through and showing pictures a ton of times. I see the trend and make a video that everyone can reference. This makes things much clearer when working with various people that have various experience working on pinball machines. Plus, this ties into consumer confidence: Same guy in the videos, that also answers 833-API-HELP, that also responds from [email protected] whenever you call, submit a service ticket or just email a question.
I also write and assemble the manuals for API. These require lots of input from several people from the team at API, but I put it all together so it’s easy to read and find the information owners seek. When’s the last time you bought a game that came with a manual? Probably not in this decade unless it was from American Pinball. On top of that, I also write all service bulletins and quick reference guides.
In the past couple years at API, I’ve also got experience building the Bill of Materials for Legends of Valhalla and learned a lot about the design process. I’ve also taken ownership of the online store, making sure items are accurate, all have pictures and have added several new items.
So, where do I go from here? Obviously keep doing what I’m doing, but what’s the stretch goal? Design my own game? I got some ideas…
Dave Brennan - Tech Service Manager for American Pinball