The Gerster file Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2007

Born: Germany

School: I am an engineer for tooling machines, and I have a degree for business administration, all from German universities.

What’s your greatest business challenge?

To get everybody in the company aligned to work toward the same goal, but then the goal is changing every day. How can I keep everybody in the loop and make sure there are no shortcuts in communication and make sure other people are as excited as I am about it, and drive that thinking and mindset all the way down to the janitor?

What’s the greatest business lesson you’ve learned?

That people don’t understand how to generate success with ordinary people.

What’s the best advice you’ve received?

I once was a trainee in the United States. My boss just came out of school in Germany and came here for 18 months, and he once told me that, in life, only the big decisions count, not the small ones, and I have made that a principle ever since. A big decision was to drop back and go lean with WIKA, and now all of our locations worldwide are doing it, and our site is ahead of everybody else.

What was your first job?

Technical sales for gas instruments in Germany

On patience: It’s not a revolution, it’s an evolution. You cannot do it too hasty. You need to do it good, thorough, and you have to give it time to take hold in the organization, but you can prove results and improvements very quick.

On making changes: Plan it. Do it. Check whether you are meeting your expectation and then adjust if you don’t. Then work if you do. Once you sustain it, plan for the next step. That is just a continuous cycle.