SWUGN Group Leader Spotlight – Jeff Holliday

Since 1996, SOLIDWORKS User Groups have been a valuable resource for SOLIDWORKS users all over the world.  The SWUGN Committee and DS SOLIDWORKS provide ample support, but the real stars are the SOLIDWORKS User Group Leaders. Every couple of weeks we’ll spotlight one of our group leaders and the local user group chapter that they are responsible for leading.

Jeff Holliday – Mid-Atlantic Region Independent SOLIDWORKS User Group

Jeff and his son Sean
Jeff and his son Sean

I’m not shy about telling people that Jeff Holliday is one of the nicest people I have ever met.  Always friendly, always courteous, and always passionate about SOLIDWORKS and the SOLIDWORKS Community.  Jeff has been leading MARISUG for almost 10 years and shows no signs of slowing down.  At SOLIDWORKS World 2014 in San Diego, Jeff received the SWUGN User Group Leader of the Year award for 2013.  We asked Jeff a few questions about himself and his user group, here’s what he had to say.

Who are you and what do you do?

I am Jeff Holliday. I live in Lititz, PA, a small town which is about 8 miles north of Lancaster, PA. Lititz is famous for being the home to Wilbur Chocolate Co., Sturgis pretzels, Linden Hall (a private Girl’s school), Clair Brother’s Audio, etc. 2 years ago Lititz received the honor of being the America’s “Coolest Small Town”! I work for Woodstream Corporation as a Product Designer. Woodstream’s product line includes many pet containment and pest control products (including the original Victor wooden mousetrap). I have also been a tour guide in Lancaster County for the past 32 years.

When did you first start learning/using SOLIDWORKS?

I began using SOLIDWORKS in 1997 after seeing a demonstration being held near Reading, PA. At the time I was using something different and was happy to make the change to SOLIDWORKS! I attended a 1-week long training course sponsored by Prism Engineering. I am pleased to say that Prism Engineering has been the VAR at all 3 companies I have worked at which used SW, including the past 16 years at Woodstream.

Tell us a little about your SOLIDWORKS User Group.

I was fortunate to have been able to take over the leadership of MARISUG from Mark Semmel 9 years ago. Mark (a former SWUGN leader) needed to relocate due to job requirements and is now the founder/leader of the Lehigh Valley SOLIDWORKS User Group. MARISUG is believed to be one of the first 5 SOLIDWORKS User Groups formed.

What was the best meeting you’ve had?

I remember certain presenters more than the meetings themselves. We have been fortunate to have had many interesting/colorful people. Matt Lombard attended after having authored the first of his SOLIDWORKS bibles. Avelino Rochino and Mike Puckett have presented several times. There was also a time that Suchit Jain and someone named Richard Doyle braved the elements of a major weather event to travel to our meeting. Of course Richard has attended at other times and is ALWAYS welcome to spread his enthusiasm throughout our group. I believe that welcome will also be extended to Rachel York as part of her new endeavor.

What was the worst meeting you’ve had?

Although there have been some “trying” times when things have not gone well (meeting location schedule mishaps, etc.) one of the most memorable nights for me occurred about 5 years ago. Just as the meeting was beginning I got a cell call from my Wife telling me that our Son had “rolled” his SUV on the way to visit his girlfriend. Both he and a friend travelling with him were very lucky to escape injury. The State Police told us that as they were arriving at the scene, they were just about to change the call from requesting an ambulance to calling a coroner. Then they saw them walking around.

Why should people attend a SOLIDWORKS User Group meeting?

I constantly learn new things at every meeting and thoroughly enjoy meeting new people and trying to help with their challenges (both as related to SOLIDWORKS and job-related). I travel nearly 70 miles to our meetings which are held every 2 months to be with a group of fellow SOLIDWORKS geeks and have a hard time understanding why more SOLIDWORKS users choose not to attend. We are very fortunate in PA to have many user groups to choose from. Those that choose to come to our no-cost meetings will learn new ways to use SW and expand their network of acquaintances (both personal and professional).

Anything else you’d like to add?

Despite the many good times over the past 10 years of leading MARISUG and attending 10-consecutive SWW’s (!), I thought nothing compared with being nominated for User Group Leader of the Year at one of the San Diego SWW’s. Ed Gebo deservedly won that year. 2 years later in San Diego I just about rolled off my chair when my name was announced as the User Group Leader of the Year for 2013!!! The most amazing statement I remember before my name was announced was Richard Doyle telling everyone in the room of 6000 people that I was “one of the nicest people” he has met. It is very easy to remind myself of the extreme good fortune of that event because the glass plaque sits right at my desk every day. Looking at it is much easier than needing to pinch myself to recall it!

Thanks Jeff for your answers, your passion for SWUGN, and for being a great guy.  We’ll see you in Dallas for SOLIDWORKS World 2016!

Richard Doyle
My official title is Senior User Advocacy & SolidWorks User Groups - but most people just call me "The User Group Guy". I've been a SolidWorks user since 1997, and was one of the founding members of the SWUGN Committee. Since starting the Central Texas SolidWorks User Group in 1999, my career path has led me to DS SolidWorks and a dream job supporting the SolidWorks User Group Network worldwide.
Richard Doyle
Richard Doyle