This interview shares some tips for managers and future business leaders, where we brief over acquisitions, team management and development. Mark Norris, general manager – SE Asia and Korea, Nordson Advanced Technologies Electronic Systems speaks with Dilin Anand of EFY
A. A very good example is that, in September this year (2015), we announced the acquisition of a company called Matrix, in Germany. When we approached Matrix, we quickly realised that while we were extremely strong in the handling of the substrate, they were really good at inspection and usage of certain algorithms to recognise defects. They also used software to interpret results and give these to the operator.
Our strength with offline x-ray is in terms of tube technology and detector technology. When we came to know about this, we immediately set up a plan with the company to take our combined strengths and do a classic ‘one plus one equals three.’
Q. What should be kept in mind when considering acquisitions?
A. For us, it is really about acquiring companies that are complementary to what we already have. This enables us to share R&D resources and to implement sales and support through the existing sales structure of the parent company.
Q. What is a good business mantra in your line of business?
A. I always say that even if you have a good machine and bad support, it is still a bad machine. This is because a good machine lets people do their work and if they are waiting for the support team to fix a problem, the good machine just goes bad. So the ideal solution is to have a good machine and great support. We cannot have our feet on the ground all over the world. We have direct application and support and direct field-support engineers, and we rely very heavily on local support.
Q. What would you say is a good strategy to build a support team?
A. We try to be focused and, in order to remain focussed, we have to make sure that we do not spread the knowledge too thin. We have dedicated application engineers for each product line so that they are completely focused.
The next line of service engineers has expertise in three different areas. So the further we go down, it spreads a bit and this helps ensure there is sufficient support coverage across products.
Companies need to be able to invest and should not just be interested in a quick sale, where they do not support the product or solution that they have just sold. It is always easy to sell one product and a salesman normally does that, hoping it would work. But normally if you sell the second, third and fourth machine, it is because of a good product combined with great service and support.
Q. What are your thoughts about leading a team?
A. People have to believe that if they say you are making a mistake, you will listen and act on that. Whether you are right or wrong, you will need to explain your actions. People need to know that there is a leader who is moving the company forward so that they can grow, and most importantly people just want to be trusted.
Trusting people and mentoring them is the key. If you are not developing people with whom you can be replaced, you are never going to be able to develop yourself and do more and more things with the same effort.