Salem's New President Shares Challenges, Plans
for Salem Glass
July 28, 2010
The 47 employee-owners of Salem Distributing Co. in Winston-Salem,
N.C., appointed Michael Willard as the company's new president earlier
this month (CLICK
HERE for related story). Willard brings 25 years of glass sales
management experience, the last 11 years as Salem's national sales
manager and executive vice president to his new position. He recently
sat down with USGNN.com to share his vision for the company
and some of the challenges he's facing in his new role.
USGNN: What do you expect to be your biggest challenge in your
new role as company president?
MW: The biggest challenge in my new role here is making sure our
employee ownership culture maintains that passion to move forward.
I think if employees have a lot of passion for the business, they
will perform at high levels. That's one of the core values we definitely
want to instill here at Salem with our 45 employee owners. On top
of that, obviously Salem participated in the recession last year,
just like everybody else, and we know we came out standing strong.
We're looking forward to the future and growing the business and
continuing to serve our glass customers.
USGNN: How do you plan to handle these challenges?
MW: We're looking to expand our field sales network. Right now,
we have 14 sales reps calling on customers. It's our intent to hire
more sales reps. We are looking at adding additional lines that
have value-added machines and also support to expand our sales presence
in the United States.
USGNN: What are your long-term goals for the company?
MW: I want to diversify the business even more. We want to reach
out and expand our presence in the float glass market. We represent
such a wide array of supplies for the market, and we're looking
for ways to change the dynamics in the marketplace as far as how
customers process glass. We're always looking for ways to reduce
the number of steps our customers have to go through.
USGNN: What would you say is special about your company?
MW: Everyone here at Salem has an employee-stock ownership in their
name. Employees want to be here for the long haul, they want to
see that share to increase every year, so that when they retire,
they have a nice lump. I think we're a very unique company.
USGNN: What role in the industry do you hope to see Salem playing
ten years from now?
MW: We want to expand our presence. I'd like to see our sales double
within ten years.
USGNN: How do you think the glass business has changed since
you first began in it?
MW: I started in the glass industry about 24 years ago, and the
industry has changed drastically, [with] vertical integration with
fabricators. It has changed tremendously and will continue to change.
I think we all need to wake up every morning and expect change to
USGNN: What kind of advice would you offer someone just starting
out in this industry?
MW: Expect change. I think for anybody new coming into the industry,
you've got to continually reinvent yourself, improve your skills
and look towards the future and see what skills are needed to adapt
to the landscape.
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