Lessons Learned on the Road to Becoming an Industry Veteran


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Rick, we recently read the announcement of your new role as Senior Vice President of Business Development and Marketing at VirTex, congratulations.

Talk to me a little about the passion you have, as someone charged to grow the business in this space?

I have been in the industry almost since the inception of contract manufacturing.  Back then the change to SMT created an environment where the contract manufacturers brought real value in the transition from through hole to SMT.  All the EMS companies were small in the 80’s, so we had to listen and develop solutions our customers needed, and to be successful, we had to establish a deep trust and add real value to have major organization move their internal manufacturing to an outside partner.  Trust and commitment was a core part of this. 

We are, again, in an environment where the customers need skills that they do not have internally to compete in a global economy.  But, the change we are seeing is much more complex than just a technology shift, it is customization and flexibility as a competitive advantage.  Companies like OtterBox and Samsung, Logitech, Bose, showed the dynamics of this.  This is the right time to offer creative, flexible and customized solutions.  The dynamics are similar to the SMT conversion, but the solutions are much broader and more complex.  And the trust and integrity that you will do what you say to truly help is even more important. 

Tell me Rick, how have you seen the market evolve?

We are seeing a re-emergence of a market all about not only getting the customers what they need, but getting them things that they do not know that they need.  They don’t need widgets to ship to big box stores anymore or through distribution; they have to address many channels they need to deliver an exceptional customer experience. They need solutions profiled to their specific market needs and they need suppliers that can manage the entire process to assure that their customer experience is exceptional.  The winning corporate brands need a total solution and a partner that enhances their deep product technology skills with innovation and complimentary services. The companies that are embracing these changes are the ones winning.  It is no longer about providing a quote for build to print; it’s about bringing innovation that enhances their overall solution. 

Who has influenced the way you approach leadership in this competitive environment?

I had the good fortune to work with thought leaders of this industry that include Michael Marks, former CEO of FLEX (formerly Flextronics), Mike McNamara, current CEO of FLEX, Jure Sola, CEO of Sanmina, Pete Lindgren, CEO of Otterbox, Craig Muhlhouser, former CEO of Celestica.  Every one of these leaders knew their core assets were their people.  They built an industry by developing, mentoring, training and acknowledging the talents of their teams.  They had a clear plan and from that they built innovative companies with innovative dynamic talent.  That passion and desire to bring extraordinary solutions to their customers is inspiring.  They wanted solve big problems and they inspired those around them to do the same.  I believe that when people are inspired they then inspire others.  With a clear focus on direction, a commitment to excellence, an inspired team will win.

You have a very successful track record and recently were referred to as an ‘industry veteran’. How did hearing your name linked to this term make you feel?

Aside from old?  Seriously, I am proud to have made a career helping companies succeed.  Being on the forefront of innovation, being part of the explosive growth of technology, and the impact of that technology has been exciting.  But more importantly, being in front of the customer and listening to, and helping them address rapid change, global competition and faster and faster product development and deployment cycles is exciting.  When your success is predicated on your customers’ success, and you define the partnership in that light, all parties bring their best game.  The success becomes shared success.  I want my machine operator to be impassioned by the knowledge that what she is doing is helping our customers and that helps her and all her co-workers achieve success.  I want my program managers and the entire staff committed adding value through a deep-seated knowledge and creative solutions that achieve greatness.

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