Chuck Banker joined our family at SCHMIDT as President in January of 2017. His previous position was with Illinois Tool Works (ITW), where he managed a portfolio of companies in a variety of business segments including agriculture, pharmaceuticals, logistics and general industrial. He also has extensive international experience, working with companies in North and South America, the Middle East, Europe and Asia.
While he enjoyed the challenges of being part of a multi-billion dollar corporation, he began looking for an opportunity in a small to mid-sized organization where he could be more directly involved and use his skills and experience to personally make a difference.
The Right Opportunity
Chuck was interested in a company that had the potential for success in regards to international exposure and innovative technology, but also had a solid foundation, a strong brand and a reputation for high quality products. His research confirmed that we were an excellent choice. “SCHMIDT has been an industry leader for over 120 years,” he said. “I also found the plant to be full of highly skilled professionals who mirror my own entrepreneurial spirit.” Chuck felt his background and experience aligned with the opportunities presented by our company quite well and soon accepted the position of President.
Chuck started by studying the culture and learning the strengths of the organization from human resources to technology. His first challenge was finding the balance between the past and the future. “If you have too much tribal knowledge and not enough innovation, you probably don’t have the ideal situation,” he said. “On the other hand, if everyone is new, with no sensitivity to the legacy, that’s not good, either.”
He quickly noted the talented people already with the company and brought new individuals with complementary skills onto the senior management team, the floor and the engineering department. “When I look at each department now, I see a good balance of experience with fresh ideas,” he remarked. “This is the team that we will align with opportunities coming up in the marketplace.”
But this was by no means merely an academic exercise. Four new product launches took place within 90-120 days of Chuck’s arrival including a new rental program, a new medical product, a hand held inkjet and a tag program. “That’s more launches than there have been in the last five years,” Chuck said. “Innovative and quick launches like this create excitement in the marketplace, thus creating additional opportunities and building momentum.”
Along with product development and taking market share domestically, Chuck has begun planning for a new push into international markets. He is currently in talks with a distributor about making our international debut. The launch date is currently set for December 2018.
Long Term Strategy
Chuck sees the future of marking as everchanging – with the market demanding smaller, lighter and quicker innovations. “To compete successfully, we must be agile and nimble enough to react and get new products on the market quickly as customer demand changes,” he said. “The key to our success in the future will be the ability to see an opportunity, align our resources to take advantage of that opportunity, satisfy the market need before it passes, and then move on to the next opportunity.”
The fact that our sales volume has grown almost 40% in five months is proof of this concept.
Chuck’s Idea of Fun
When asked about hobbies or outside interests, Chuck replied that going into the office is what energizes him. “After a relaxing weekend with my family, I’m recharged and anxious to get back to work with new ideas.”
Speaking of family, Chucks credits his wife, Sue, and their two sons for their support throughout the years. Now that his travel schedule is not as full, he has more time to spend with them. The boys are both All-American baseball players on traveling squads and he enjoys the freedom to watch more of their games.
Chuck still likes to travel – with his wife. The destination? He leaves that totally up to her. “She’s excellent at travel planning and we always have a wonderful time,” he said.