Thursday, February 23, 2012

New Leadership Role for BWC Board Member

Credit: Pioneer Motor Bearing Co.
A VOTE OF CONFIDENCE — In its 91-year history, Pioneer Motor Bearing Company has had only four presidents, so you can imagine that it's a big deal when someone new has been appointed by the California-based company. It happens that the latest person voted in as president is someone near and dear to us here at Bishop-Wisecarver: Ray Harrington.

Ray worked here as our Vice President of Business Development for a few years before leaving the post in 2010 to start his own consulting business. The British-born veteran in the power transmission and bearing industry kept ties with BWC by continuing to serve on our Board of Directors. As a board member, he helps sets the policies and long-term goals for our company. As the new president of Pioneer Motor Bearing, he'll take on a similar task, implementing the vision of the company's chairman and shareholders.

We found out about his good news at the most recent board of directors meeting at the BWC headquarters.

EXPERIENCE AND FRESH VISION — Gordon Bardet, who preceded Ray as president and will continue as the company's chairman, said he couldn't think of anyone better for the position.

"I am delighted that Ray has joined our team full time as president," he said in a statement Pioneer published last month. "I've known Ray for 20 years. It's funny looking back on it now because originally he immediately impressed me when he was consulting with a competitor we were considering acquiring."

Ray has a knack for working diplomatically with competing companies, though. It's part of how he made a name for himself at the outset of his career in executive management, he told us during our chat this afternoon.

FROM LAB TO FLOOR — The metallurgist major (at Brunel University in London) moved from working in the lab figuring out how to make metals stronger, to the manufacturing floor figuring out how to make them run more efficiently. He quickly rose into leadership ranks after helping to kick-start a 1,500-person plant in Liverpool in less than a year. From there, he moved into another management role at a bearing company and began accumulating experience from a variety of workplaces.

Something he noticed from plant to plant was that competing manufacturers making similar products were more efficient in different areas. He used that fact to spearhead a sort of gentleman's agreement between several companies, getting one to take over a part of production that another plant struggled to make efficient. It's a practice that became commonplace in the industry over the ensuing decades.

"We called it production interchange," he said. "It turned into multi-million-pound, or multi-million-dollar returns for several companies."

A NATURAL LEADER — His work as liaison opened up many doors into top-brass leadership — and more opportunities to travel. His first shot at jet-setting came in the early days when he represented an alliance of companies that met in Geneva, Switzerland. From there, he was offered a job in Toronto, Canada, to revive a struggling manufacturing plant, a first of what he called many "marvelously interesting assignments."

"My line of work has opened so many opportunities for me," he said. "I'd always been drawn to general management roles. I'm not an expert in anything, but I get to work with people who are and manage the overall process of things."

It's his ability to see the bigger picture and passion for enacting a company's vision that endears him to the leadership teams he works with, they say. For Ray, it's the innovative vision of the people he works with, both here at BWC and with Pioneer. He appreciates the similarities between the two companies he helps lead — both are family-owned, both are experiencing positive culture shifts, both aiming to become more customer-centric, he said.

"I'm very excited for what Pioneer is doing," he said. "But I've also been very excited to see what Pamela has been doing [at BWC]. She's really changing the culture of the company and bringing on incredible new talent and figuring out how to best utilize that talent to make the company stronger. It's a real, major shift."

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