May 14, 2009

Wearing Many Hats on the Job

Alex LaRoche ’98 draws on his liberal arts and engineering background as vice president at Moser Jewel Co.

When Alex LaRoche ’98 decided to major in engineering studies (then called A.B. engineering), he knew he also wanted his future career to include management and leadership roles. Lafayette’s blend of liberal arts and engineering gave him the unique foundation he would need as vice president of sales and engineering for Moser Jewel Co. in Phillipsburg, N.J.

“The technical background is needed in my career, but being well-rounded allows me to interact with other people very well,” says LaRoche, who also completed minors in economics & business and German. “Communication is critical in today’s business environment. The liberal arts aspect of Lafayette assures that all engineers become very proficient in communicating their ideas. Speaking ‘engineering’ only works when dealing directly with engineers. In the field of technical sales, it is very important that one can communicate with anybody. In a given day, I’ll communicate with engineers, purchasing managers/buyers, production personnel, vendors, and owners of other companies.”

Moser Jewel is a small supplier of micro-precision components and assemblies, with clients such as IBM, Lockheed-Martin, Hughes Aircraft, General Motors, and Eastman Kodak. LaRoche wears many hats throughout the day, including sales, purchasing, engineering, customer service, order processing, shipping and receiving, and scheduling. Devising creative solutions to difficult problems is a must.

“We are very responsive to our customers’ needs,” he says. “Whether it’s a customer who’s been with us for 40 years or a potential new customer with a newly designed component, we’re known to jump to their needs immediately. The fun part is when customers use their CAD [computer-aided design] programs to design and draw components which are impossible to manufacture due to machining, dimensional tolerances, or material limitations. Working with customers and vendors in solving problems keeps things very interesting.”

Moser Jewel’s history was a strong influence in LaRoche’s decision to join the company 11 years ago.

“The company has stayed true to its Swiss heritage,” he says. “Having been born in Germany to Swiss parents, I’ve had my Swiss passport since birth. Working for a small Swiss business where I could use my Swiss/German and my technical background made Moser Jewel a great match.”

As an undergraduate, LaRoche participated in Lafayette’s Division I cross country and track & field teams his first two years.

“While competing within the Patriot League was great, some of our meets outside the league exposed me to exceptional athletes,” he recalls. “As a freshman on campus, Lafayette’s athletic department mandated time management seminars which taught me great skills that I was able to apply to my studies and in my daily life since graduation.”

LaRoche also was a member of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. The lifelong friendships he made though the Penn Theta chapter keep him connected to his alma mater.

“The Greek community at Lafayette has always been a crucial part of campus life,” he says. “The academic support, leadership, philanthropic, and social opportunities that were offered to me by being part of Penn Theta is a huge asset for Lafayette. My alumni ties to the College exist only because of my strong ties to the fraternity.”

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