John Sztykiel, CEO, Spartan Motors

John SztykielSemifinalist, Manufacturing

John Sztykiel, CEO of Spartan Motors, focuses his leadership of the company on understanding consumers’ wants and expectations.Spartan Motors makes chassis, vehicles, bodies and parts for emergency rescue, recreational vehicle and specialty vehicle markets, and the company’s leaders consider Spartan more than just a niche manufacturer in the automotive business.

The message Sztykiel projects throughout the company is that Spartan’s workers should not be satisfied with making a superior product but should strive to go above and beyond that by continually making the product safer, more customer-friendly, lighter, more fuel-efficient and more sustainable. Spartan Motors’ management team shares Sztykiel’s vision and energy and directs the company in the same manner.

A recent challenge Spartan Motors dealt with involved diversifying its product mix. As a result of the past decade’s wars and military actions in the Middle East, a majority of the company’s work has come from government contracts. The percentage of government work peaked at 88 percent in 2008. Recognizing the need to diversify its mix, Spartan Motors has lowered its percentage of government work to about 50 percent.

The company has extended its expertise in chassis design beyond military vehicles and now puts that know-how to work in emergency response vehicles, RVs and commercial vans.

Reflecting Sztykiel’s belief in the importance of helping employees achieve balance between work and family time, some employees work four 10-hour days a week. The company is looking to implement the policy for the rest of the company. Recognizing that many employees have two-income households, Sztykiel says he believes that a four-day workweek will make the company’s workers more productive and focused.

HOW TO REACH: Spartan Motors Inc.,