K: Tell me about your career path and how you got to Kadant.
J: I studied mechanical engineering at the Rheinische Fachhochschule in Cologne, Germany and earned an additional qualification in technical business administration. After graduation, I started working for a sports marketing agency. This agency had made it its business to bring special sports from abroad to Germany and to market them here. I was responsible for all activities around "bungee jumping". That was a really great time, during which I traveled a lot through Germany and met a lot of interesting people. Following that opportunity, I was grateful for having, it was time to start developing my professional career.
That search led me to Klaus Fischer Mess- und Regeltechnik GmbH in Bad Salzuflen where I became a sales manager. After five years in that position, I was approached by a management consultant who, at that time, was looking for a branch office manager for the German location of an American company called “The Johnson Corporation”. Of course, I asked myself if I could imagine myself doing this, and I could, so I leaped right in and have been a part of the Johnson family, now the Kadant family, since 1997 and have never regretted that decision.
K: What’s one thing you’ve learned in your time at Kadant?
J: At Kadant, I learned how important it is to feel comfortable in your working environment. We spend most of the day in the office or traveling to customers and other Kadant entities, sometimes spending even more time at work than at home with the family. We need to be productive at work, create something, make a difference, and that can only work if I enjoy going to work. Kadant offers its employees a great deal of self-dependence and flexibility so that each employee can work in the way that suits them best. And as important as work is, family always comes first. This is not only important to me but also to the entire Kadant company.
K: What is one of your or your team’s greatest successes in the past year?
J: I think, first and foremost, our employees are our greatest success. With important personnel investments that we have made in the last view years, our business at Kadant Johnson Germany has been positively impacted. In the end, it always pays to invest in good employees. Another success is that we have separated the paper and industrial areas within the team. As a result, we now have specialists for each area who can provide our customers with optimum support and advice.
K: What do you find the most challenging about being a managing director?
J: The most difficult thing in my position is to respond to the different personalities of the team, to promote and support them individually, and to mediate between them when things go wrong at one point or another. This can sometimes be a challenging task.
K: What do you like to do in your free time and why?
J: I like to spend my free time with my family. I have two children, a girl and a boy, whom I like to support in their free time activities. My son is a very talented field hockey player. Several times a week, my wife or I drive him to Cologne for training. It is important to me that we as parents encourage our children and don't stop them in what they are doing. They should be enthusiastic about something in life, enjoy something, and be able to concentrate fully on it.
K: If you had a free ticket to go anywhere in the world where would you go?
J: If I had a free ticket, I would fly to the USA with my wife and children and rent a camper van there so that we could drive around the USA and Canada for several weeks. I like the idea of being free and independent in a certain way with the camper van. To go wherever you want to go. To be able to stop where you want. To experience the country and its people up close. I think this could be an idea for 2022 because life is too short for doing things later.