Q: Starting a new position in the middle of a global pandemic adds an extra layer of complexity to everything. Tell us what your first impression of Syncron has been, despite that.
Fritz Neumeyer (FN): Happily enough, my first impression is exactly what I hoped it would be prior to joining the company. In my first 30 days, I’ve found three things to be the most impressive.
Number one, Syncron has a fantastic team. I see a lot of extremely gifted and talented people with deep knowledge and commitment to what they’re doing. After all, the business we’re in and the type of services we’re offering to our customers—it’s mission critical. If our solutions don’t work, our customers face substantial business challenges. To that extent, a company of our size always has to deliver its very best, and maybe even more. And I think we can do that because we have such an incredible team. Syncron is a midsize software business, and yet we’ve made it possible to serve customers globally. At our size, this is an impressive achievement. I see a colorful company with not just one culture, but many different elements of cultures coming together, which I find very inspiring. So Syncron’s first super cool asset is people.
The second thing I’ve found is that extremely powerful brands and customers entrust their business to us. Particularly in these pandemic times, business is highly challenging. But our customers have rewarded us with their loyalty to an extent that I think is distinctive, if not entirely unique. And I think that’s a testament to the level of trust and quality we serve up. Our customer relationships are gems, true jewels.
The third thing I really like so far, and it’s all connected obviously, is—why do our customers trust and rely on us? Because our products are powerful. Clearly, I’m of the opinion that we can do many things better. It goes without saying that I will always be a man with ambition and aspirations. But in the balance of things, I think the products we have today and our ideas for future products will be a really powerful platform for us to take the next step.
Q: What does customer loyalty mean to you?
Customer loyalty is the foundation of all business, and the platform for everything we do. I believe from the bottom of my heart that any business can only sustain itself if you really make sure you have happy customers. And what makes a customer happy? You need to deliver value. You need to find the language to ensure both sides realize the value you’re providing. And you need to do it on a repeat basis. It’s not a one off. If you achieve this, you can create a long-lasting relationship and earn your right to come back. It’s always tougher to acquire a brand-new customer than to expand your relationship with an existing customer. So, customer loyalty is everything.
We can also look at it this way—I’m an end customer of many things myself. If I go into a hotel and an elevator is broken, that elevator may be supplied by one of our customers. They have a service business which includes making sure these elevators are operating. Whether it’s already following a servitization model or it’s just an elevator business, I appreciate a functioning elevator because I used to live in a high rise. To that extent, I think it spills through the full value chain, down to the end user. Our customers themselves have to make sure that they’re not only running profitably, but that their own customers stay loyal to them. And that’s something we need to enable our customers to do. It’s not just about profitability.
Q: We know you’ve only been at Syncron for a short period, but can you tell us what you are focusing on?
FN: Right now, I’m trying to dance on many tight ropes at the same time. I’m trying to learn the business and understand what our team thinks about the entire environment. Talking to colleagues is definitely my number one priority, and where I’m learning the most. We don’t always speak the same language, not only because I’m not yet a native Swedish speaker—obviously I also need to understand the terminologies, the product, the differentiating elements. And I need to have that as a foundation to develop my own ideas about how we can do things better. So, talking to our teams is super cool. I really enjoy it. I’m also trying to look at what we need to do collectively in order to navigate this pandemic environment in a stable way. Naturally, I’ve also been working a lot with our teams in the field organizations, like sales and marketing, to understand how much sales we’re driving, how much marketing we’re doing, if customers are picking up again, if their own environment is really accelerating, and so on. I’m extremely grateful also for the help from Anders, who has been fantastic in supporting me and introducing me into this company. I’ve started to engage with our customers and that’s a must do for me. I would love to engage a little deeper on the product area because it’s the foundation of everything we do. Hopefully I’ll have more time for this soon.
Q: How has it been coming to a new company and having to meet your people on Teams or Zoom instead of in person?
FN: I’ll be honest—it’s probably the strangest transition I could think of. I do respect the IT that makes it possible to work remotely, but as a human being I really enjoy meeting other people face to face. I miss that a lot. I’m extremely grateful to have the opportunity once in a while to see people in the Stockholm office, although I’m not sure it’s a great idea—safety and health is the most important thing, of course. That’s also why I have to prevent myself from being too keen to meet people in their local offices. Otherwise, be assured I would have already been to Poland, India, and the United States. These are super important elements of our team and I really look forward to meeting our people around the globe face-to-face one day. But I will also say, we really have to make sure we find environments to work safely together in offices before we do this on a large scale.
Q: What excited you most about Syncron?
FN: I’m looking forward to being a part of the team and jointly bringing this company, which has been greatly developed by the team before, including Anders obviously who was a great leader for so many years, now to a next level. I hope I can help Syncron really achieve a new level of greatness with respect to how relevant we can be to customers. To me, the question isn’t how much revenue we are going to make at some point in time. Financially, it’s an important KPI of course. But it’s only a consequence of doing the right things. If we continue to build great products and demonstrate even more our relevance and the value we create for customers—not only in the sales cycle, but also afterwards—if we continue to better adopt industry vertical domain language and knowledge, this is a journey I’m just fascinated by. And I think Syncron can have a fantastic future. Really that’s what I’m most excited about day in and day out.
Q: If you had to describe Syncron with three words, what would those words be?
FN: If I have to choose just three, I would say talent. I would say knowledge—about aftermarket and what our products really can do for customers. And I think diversity because my experience right now is that we really think differently in many areas, which is a good thing for a company. This just adds to what we bring the table and makes us richer. Could I think of 50 other words? I’m sure I could.
Q: How do you see your role as CEO?
FN: What I really want to be is a facilitator. I don’t think a single person can define an articulated strategy for a company, or be the most gifted in bringing together the right talent at the right time. It all has to do with team. So, the question for me is always: how could teams work together more effectively? And what I’m trying to do is not only work with individual people on specific areas, but also look into interfaces between various teams to see how we can convert more effectively across the full value chain. How can we become more seamless between sales and marketing and bringing new products to market? How can we become more seamless in not only demonstrating value to the customer by value engineering in the sales cycle, but also proving that value after the fact, once we have done the sales and the implementation so that customers realize the promise that we made held true? I come with some ideas which maybe Anders would not have weighted with the same importance. That’s natural when people work together. But really, I look at my role as being almost like a glue, or a catalyst. That’s the best way to describe it.
Q: What would you like to say to all the employees you can’t meet right now because of the pandemic?
FN: I miss meeting you. That’s what I would say. Because these virtual formats, they’ve come a long way and they’re fairly powerful and they keep us pretty effective these days. I really appreciate the work quality and excellence the entire team is delivering right now, virtually. We even bring customers live entirely virtually—that’s something we haven’t done before. And we didn’t even need to train and learn how. It just comes kind of naturally that we can do these things. We even got an award for this as I just recently learned. However, I do miss once in a while reading the full body language of people and meeting them in person. So, I would say I miss you and I hope to meet you face to face sometime soon.