At Bently Nevada Inc. in Minden, the days of traditional sales pitches are going by the wayside, replaced with technology that wouldn't be out of place in a sci-fi movie.
The plant, which falls under the umbrella of GE Measurement & Control Solutions, hosted the grand opening Wednesday of GE's first Customer Application Center. The center, a sales floor of sorts, lets customers and potential customers do more than just listen to the pitch and watch some videos: It allows them to digitally manipulate on a touch screen the products being peddled, customize them and see how they work together.
"They're wowed," said general manager Arthur Eunson. "A lot of them haven't seen this kind of technology before."
It's particularly beneficial to the plant in Minden, which sells products designed to monitor and optimize the rotating parts in things like oil wells and wind turbines. Bently has technology that measures, for example, the temperature of the parts - if they get too hot, the metal can expand and wreck the device - and their rotational pattern to ensure maximum efficiency.
"It's difficult to describe technology of this nature with PowerPoint presentations and sales pitches," Eunson joked.
Even with many of the buyers being engineers, the screens make the products more tangible and how they work together easier to understand, Eunson said.
"That's the real key to this: People can simulate what they want to simulate," Eunson said.
Jerry Pritchard, sales force effectiveness leader with Measurement & Control Solutions, said it also shows how products from Bently Nevada fit into the larger context of parent company GE Measurement & Control Solutions.
The upgrade also included a remote monitoring center, where the sensors track how the turbines and similar devices are observed. That makes it a place where the experts can all be together instead of scattered, Pritchard said.
The 18-month project to develop the updated sales floor, which includes physical examples of how the hardware and turbines work together, was a "sizable investment," Eunson said, and one that required all the businesses in Measurement & Control Solutions to work together, Pritchard said.
Taken in sum, Eunson said, it represents a company that is further entrenching itself in Northern Nevada and the Carson Valley.
"This isn't on its own an economic indicator," he said. "It's just a sign of a business model that continues to grow."