Spotlight: Robert Slykhuis, President & CEO, Bizerba North America
- Hi Rob. Let’s start off with something easy. Where are you from? I am a Canadian from Dutch parents. Although working a lot of my career in the US I make my home in Bond Head, near Toronto, Canada.
- Why did you decide to pursue a career in the food industry? Not a lot of planning or forethought went into it. From school I was pursuing a sales career in capital equipment, which led to the food industry. Through the past almost 40 years I have found it to be one of the most stable industries to work in through all economic situations so continued on.
- How long have you been with Bizerba and what has initially attracted you to the company? I recently passed 18 years with Bizerba. Initially it was the company that came to me and while I was initially happy where I was and not really looking around, it turned out to be a great decision to join.
- What is the most exciting thing Bizerba is doing for the food industry today from your perspective? Without question it is our focus on the “My Bizerba” products which is a combination of hardware, software and services which is changing the customer experience by offering a full life cycle solution. Our customers are able to maintain the latest technology with the most comprehensive service for the best value.
- Drawing from your range of experiences, what inspires you personally and professionally? More than anything I like to win. It is great to see the growth we have achieved and the market share increases but nothing feels better than winning a new customer or order. In this case size really doesn’t always matter as it can be as rewarding or even more so to win a particularly difficult small negotiation as it is to see overall results.
- What are you most proud of? My family. In a time when it is common for people of my generation (myself included) to criticize the underachieving millennials, I am proud to see my children work hard and progress in their careers. My father was an immigrant bus driver who ascended to a senior management position through hard work and I like to think that example is what inspires us.
- What was the most important thing you learned over the years? Perseverance. I don’t really believe in luck so most of what I have seen us achieve has been due to the determination of our people and being able to continue on through adversity.
- What is the best advice you ever received? 80% of success is showing up. No matter how talented you think you are or how much you think your customers love you, nothing replaces working hard and putting the effort into being there.
- What is one goal — either personal or professional — that you would like to accomplish during your lifetime? I have an antique grand piano that I purchased and restored about 15 years ago with the goal to become proficient at it. With the current workload and travel schedule it still seems like a distant goal but hoping to at least start in the near future.
- What is one piece of technology you can’t live without? Going to have to say my iPhone. First thing I look at in the morning to catch my wake-up emails from Germany, and last thing to see that there are no open issues at night. I tend to get many more emails and texts now than phone calls but make sure I am always accessible to internal and external customers regardless of the day or time.
- What is your best advice for young people starting in business? A lot of emphasis seems to be placed on work\life balance, especially by younger people. I believe this is something to aspire to, not demand. We all have to sacrifice our personal time and put in the extra effort to be successful and with success you will be able to better achieve balance in your life.
- What keeps you busy in your spare time? I have a small lake property and enjoy water-skiing, snowmobiling, kayaking, skiing and other outdoor activities. I would like to add fishing but my success rate is pretty limited so far, seems to be an attention span issue. I also like to do a lot of the outdoor work around our property but judging by the number of self-inflicted injuries, not always as well as I would like.
- In 3 words, how would your employees, friends and family describe you? Ready, Fire, Aim. Not really much to be into the details I tend to want to act quickly and decisively. Luckily I am surrounded by a strong team and a wife who allow me to progress at full speed ahead and have someone to back-fill when needed.
13 questions to our CEO Robert Slykhuis was brought to from Bizerba. For the Entire Bizerba range of products and services Contact us today.