As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Pierce Covert of Glue Machinery Corporation . Pierce Covert was born in Annapolis, Maryland on June 21, 1962. After earning a degree in Communications from Syracuse University in 1986, he held a series of advertising positions in both print and radio. He joined Glue Machinery Corporation, formerly Covert Company, Inc., in 1989 as Mid-Atlantic Sales Manager. He held a series of positions of increasing responsibility before purchasing Glue Machinery Corporation in 1997.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Having encountered manufacturing operations while selling advertising, I realized that manufacturing is the lifeblood of our economy. To join an organization that provided adhesives and adhesive application equipment to the manufacturing sector for R&D, converting raw materials into finished goods as well as packaging felt impactful. Indeed, I am proud to have played a small part in bringing so many of the products that we all use every day to market.
Can you share one of the major challenges you encountered when first leading the company? What lesson did you learn from that?
The adhesive and adhesive application marketplace is much more competitive than you might imagine. I found that Glue Machinery was going head to head with one or two players who dominated nearly 90% of the market… a true David vs. Goliath situation. I was able to differentiate Glue Machinery by building an expert team. From sales to technical to shipping and receiving to administration, the team at Glue Machinery is exceptional. We all know our products inside and out and we take great pride in getting to know our customers so we can provide the right solutions the first time.
What are some of the factors that you believe led to your eventual success?
Through listening to our customers, we are able to develop relationships that enable us to pinpoint what adhesives or adhesive application equipment best suits our customers’ needs and to fill those needs with the simplest, most cost-efficient products.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”? Please share a story or example for each.
I have said this previously, but the five things I find most important in my professional dealings are all the same — LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN. Through listening we are able to connect with and understand our customers. With this understanding we can make honest recommendations to meet all customer needs.
What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I know I sound like a broken record, but can I say it — listen! But it is also important to listen to yourself and take the time to reflect. You may encounter situations that can’t be solved with the tools you have to offer. Be honest with yourself and refuse or refer projects that can be better served by someone else. This reflection also gives me the spark to continue to strive for improvement, in processes, products, marketing and relationships.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My father was also in sales and he instilled in me my entrepreneurial spirit. He always approached his work with passion, integrity, and a sense of humor. Without his support and encouragement, Glue Machinery Corporation would not be the company it is today.
What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?
As a small-business owner, it is critical to set clear, attainable growth and profitability targets and to work collaboratively with our team to determine the best path for attaining these goals. We have always offered the highest-level of service to our customers; however, in the competitive manufacturing landscape, growth does not always happen organically. So whether it is seeking out unique channels for obtaining new customers, or incorporating new product lines to better suit existing clients, in order to improve our numbers, we strive to continuously improve the customer experience.
What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?
I am definitely proud to have created a quality manufacturing and service company for the industry that has a quality reputation. However, at an even higher level, I’ve contributed to the American economy and provided secure livelihoods for our employees and their families.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would enhance people’s lives in some way, what would it be? You never know what your idea can trigger!
Piggy backing on the last question, I want people to understand that manufacturing stimulates economic activity and creates the most jobs of any job sector. So supporting domestic companies perpetuates the multiplier effect, further stimulating our local economy.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Stick with us! We share our adhesive and glue machinery updates on Facebook and Twitter. Follow us at Glue Machinery Corporation on Facebook and @GlueMachineryCo on Twitter.