Named the President and Head of Americas at WIKA Group a few months ago, Todd Gardner begins his tenure by talking about the importance of bringing even greater value to current and future customers. To do that, he plans to steer the company to provide more solutions that blend instrumentation, automation, and digitalization.
Todd Gardner may have just started his job on October 16, 2018, but much of what he has done in the past decade has prepared him well for this latest challenge.
As President and Head of Americas at WIKA Group, he oversees the U.S. operations of a multinational group based in Klingenberg, Germany. His previous role was that of a vice president for Siemens, another global conglomerate with headquarters in Berlin and Munich.
“For much of my career in instrumentation and product sales, it has been very beneficial to have
an understanding of German culture, on both a professional and personal level,” Gardner said.
He actually wasn’t looking for a new job. His friend, who was familiar with WIKA and Gardner’s skill set, recommended him for the leadership role. The friend was right. “This position felt right from the very beginning of the interview process.”
Gardner eagerly embraces the new challenge of leading WIKA USA. With an easygoing, approachable management style, he is 100% committed to the success of the company, which he said is made all the easier with the backing of an incredible team.
“Everywhere I’ve been, in both Europe and the U.S., I’ve noticed right away that WIKA employees are proud and excited to work here,” he said. “The feeling of a privately owned company is different from that of a public one. People have a definite sense of ownership, and I’m thrilled to be part of the organization.”
During his first 100 days at the helm, Gardner said his goal is to immerse himself in all things WIKA. “My job is to first gain a full understanding of the company’s culture, strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. Where do we lead? What are the places that need improvement? Where does our focus need to be? Are we bringing value to our customers?”
The last question speaks to several of WIKA’s core values, namely excellence, customer service, and continuous improvement. To carry on the company’s track record of success, which has always been to harness the latest technology, Gardner turns his attention to future-focused instrumentation and solutions.
“As employees know full well, many customers see us as a gauge company — and not even digital pressure gauges, but just mechanical ones,” he said. “We need to get the message out there that WIKA is an instrument company with a full portfolio of products and solutions.”
And what is the future of instrumentation? “Digitalization, automation, and data: These are the factors that will help our customers be safer and more efficient. To reach that goal, they need our help to collect, integrate, and leverage data,” he said. “When we do the right thing for customers, we will be doing our jobs.”
Gardner plans to keep investing in employees, machinery, processes, and facilities. “I come from product sales, so I understand full well the importance of training not only our salespeople, but also the factory floor. It’s a constant reinvestment. We’re not cutting corners in this area.” Specifically, he is focused internally on improving WIKA’s processes by investing in automated assembly, harnessing the latest in CNC (computer numerical control) machining technology, and moving toward paperless manufacturing.
The new head of WIKA USA loves to push innovation, encourage excellence, and solve problems. But he doesn’t like talking about himself.
“My motto is ‘Listen more, talk less,’” he said. And with that, he stopped speaking — and smiled, comfortable in his new role and eager to steer the company into a digital future.