Meet Lauren Armstrong, the newest member at Presto Geosystems, who joined the team in August 2023. Hailing from a small town near Chicago, Lauren has had quite the career journey. She began her career in IT in downtown Chicago, later transitioning to the Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic (FRP) industry, with her persistent passion for business development guiding her every step. Now at Presto Geosystems, she’s learning all about geosynthetics and facing new challenges head-on. Join Lauren as she shares insights from her past experiences, aspirations for the future, and the path that led her to Presto Geosystems.
How long have you been with Presto Geosystems?
I am pretty new to the crew—I started at Presto Geosystems in August 2023.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I have lived in a small town that is about 50 miles southwest of Chicago for my entire life. While it may not be the most exciting place in the world, I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and graduated with a degree in Marketing.
My first job out of college was in downtown Chicago at an IT company working as an Account Manager. The idea of working in the big city was very exciting as a newly college graduate; however, I failed to realize this would mean I would have to commute a total of four hours a day getting to and from downtown. Six months after I started, I got stuck on the highway for over five hours due to a bad ice storm while attempting to make it to work. Once I was finally able to loop around, I returned home feeling so defeated. About 10 minutes after I got home, an HR manager for a company I had interviewed with that prior summer called because they had a job opening (15 minutes from my house, might I add) and asked if I would be interested. The timing of this call could not have been more impeccable. I enthusiastically responded with a “YES!” and moved on to my next journey.
For the next six years, I worked for a company that manufactures Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic (FRP) wall paneling, as well as the siding and roofing for RVs and semi-trucks. For those of you that do not know what FRP is—it is the white wall panels with a bumpy texture that you typically see in restaurant kitchens, janitor closets, restrooms, etc. While here, I was able to gain experience in account management, customer service and inside sales; however, the most recent position I held while here was Lead Generation Coordinator. In this role, I would follow up on inbound leads, as well as utilize various sales tools and market research to identify potential projects where FRP could be installed. I worked with architects and contractors to get our products specified on projects, as well as assisted the sales team to help win opportunities. The role gave me great experience and helped me get to where I am today.
What led you to a career in business development and how did you come to join Presto Geosystems?
Earlier this year, I decided I was ready to embark on a new adventure in terms of my career, which is what eventually led me to joining the team at Presto Geosystems. My goal was to find a role that would allow me to use my existing skills, but would also be able to challenge me. My background in the manufacturing industry plus my prior experience with lead generation made the position at Presto very appealing to me.
There are many routes you can take with a degree in Marketing. One reason I gravitated towards a career in business development was the opportunity to work in all different aspects of the business, including sales, marketing and customer service. I enjoy the wide range of responsibilities when working in this role, as well as being able to build relationships with end-users, distributors and my fellow teammates.
Could you walk us through a typical day for you at Presto Geosystems?
Every day seems to entail something new here at Presto Geosystems, which keeps things interesting. For example, I never thought I’d be writing a blog post, but here I am!
One of my main responsibilities is managing leads and opportunities in our CRM system. Leads are generated when someone fills out one of our webforms, requests a complimentary project evaluation, attends a webinar and more. After I receive these leads, I then connect these customers with one of our distribution partners who will further assist with their project needs. It is also my job to respond to all general customer inquiries and technical questions, as well as assist with various administrative tasks.
What’s a skill you’d like to master?
I don’t know if this necessarily qualifies as a skill, but one thing I’d like to be better at is being more present and living in the moment. One of my New Years resolutions was to reduce screen time, which I have been successful at this year. However, if you are looking for an actual “skill”… I would have to say waterskiing. It is an inside joke between my family, as well as something my brothers enjoy making fun of me for. I attempt it every summer, but usually just end up ingesting way too much lake water.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned so far during your time at the company?
The world of geosynthetics was completely foreign to me when I started at Presto a few months ago, so I feel like I am constantly learning something new every day. Overall, what I find to be the most interesting is the history of geocells. For those that do not know, in the 1970s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineering needed a confinement system for load support, and thus, the geocell was born. It is very cool to see pictures of some of the first installations that took place decades ago, as well as see how the product has evolved since then. Aside from that, it is interesting to read about all the different projects from all over the world where GEOWEB® has successfully been utilized.
When you’re not working, what are some of your favorite hobbies or activities?
Nothing makes me happier than spending time with my loved ones. One major perk of residing in a small town is living within a two-mile radius of the majority of my friends and family. I love having my parents over for dinner, hosting game nights for my friends and being able to see my niece and nephew on a regular basis.
I consider myself to be quite crafty and enjoy DIY projects. I spend more time on Pinterest than I’d like to admit. In the past few years, I have started to enjoy reading. While I may be a few years late to the game, I recently started reading the entire Harry Potter series. In the summertime, my favorite place to be is the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. I have been going there my entire life and appreciate the quality relaxation time more and more the older I get.
Though it can be heartbreaking at times, my favorite sports teams to root for are the Chicago Cubs, Chicago Bears and Fighting Illini. I am well aware they are not always the best, but I am still loyal!
If you could meet anyone, past or present, who would it be?
Perhaps it’s just the times we are living in… or perhaps it is because I am a millennial… but I’m going to have to say Taylor Swift. While I may not know all her songs or be a die-hard “Swiftie” like some others, she truly just seems like the most captivating person in the world right now. Whether she is performing her sold-out international tour, attending NFL football games, or just grabbing a bite to eat, everything she does seems to be top news nowadays. Overall, she just seems like a normal girl, despite being mega famous, and I like to think we would be good friends if she got to know me. Oh—and during this meet-up, I would kindly ask if she could spare some tickets for the next round of the Eras tour for me and some friends.
What’s the most interesting place you’ve visited?
A few years ago, I visited Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah with one of my best friends. The bright orange hoodoos and rock formations are absolutely breathtaking and truly something out of this world. I love looking back at all the pictures I took from my day there because the scenery was just so incredible. If you haven’t been, I highly recommend adding it your bucket list.
I have never left the country, but am hoping to explore other continents and discover more interesting places within the next couple years.
What’s something you’re looking forward to either personally or professionally in the coming year?
Professionally – I am excited to continue learning about the world of geosynthetics and engineered soil stabilization solutions, as well as getting more familiar with all our products.
Personally – I am at the age where it seems like everyone in my life is getting married. I have weddings to attend in Utah, Florida, and Chicago all within the next year; however, I am most excited for my younger brother’s wedding in Cancun next May. I am looking forward to all the fun to come within the next year (though my bank account is not).