June 10, 2016
The Interview - David Wernsing - Union Iron
In the early 1990s, Mr Wernsing started with GSI in their grain dryer division. After some time on the plant floor and in production management, he moved to the engineering department as a technician and eventually became a product manager. In the late 1990s he moved to GSI’s international sales division.
Following a short break for academic study, Mr Wernsing then went to Brock as strategic accounts manager and soon after accepted an offer to be sales manager at Union Iron. AGI had just acquired Union Iron. He then spent a few years at Union Iron and then accepted a position with AGI as director of international sales.
In 2015, he became director of North American sales for our newly formed commercial division. In early 2016 Mr Wernsing was asked to be general manager at Union Iron. Mr Wernsing is firmly of the belief that he currently possesses sufficient “understanding of Union Iron’s people, products and customers to build and support an effective team that will manage this business successfully.”
What are the unique qualities that you believe have made Union Iron such a successful brand, and how do you intend to ensure that this reputation is carried forward into the future?
Union Iron has a solid reputation as a manufacturer of heavy-duty, grain handling equipment with a conservative approach to design and application. I intend to ensure this reputation is carried forward by concentrating on the customer experience at every step of the transaction: from initial contact to after-sales support. In short, we will leave our customers satisfied with their decision to partner with Union Iron.
What is it like to work as such a key component in such a vast network of co-operating companies as AGI, and what are the pros and cons of working in such a large family of companies?
There are really no negatives working in a network that has so many experienced, talented and creative people. Each division, department and individual at AGI brings a unique perspective to the opportunities and obstacles we face in our business. No doubt there are challenges, especially challenges created by cultural differences, but these differences can also become strengths when recognised and leveraged.
How do you maintain yours and your team’s daily motivation and inspiration despite obstacles, pushback or setbacks?
Everyone at Union Iron, and this is true across the entire AGI organisation, seeks to be the best at what they do. That’s the common theme across all functions of our business: to be the best. I’m not referring to being the best we can be…I’m referring to being the best in the world at what we do. That is an important distinction.
What are the most useful resources that you would recommend to someone looking to gain a better perspective into becoming a better industry leader?
You must know your customer and you must know yourself. Have a deep understanding of what your customer needs and an even deeper understanding of whether you have what it takes to provide it.
Although I appreciate that only a relatively small amount of time has passed since your appointment, do you currently have any concerns in regards to the current state of the industry? What do you see as being the current trends or even, what currently poses the biggest challenge?
There are always concerns. I’m concerned about the current political environment in the U.S. and the uncertainty an election year brings. I’m concerned that low commodity prices may affect the appetite for continued capital investment. I’m concerned about regional instability around the Black Sea. I’m always concerned about weather events.
Looking forward, which elements of your own wealth of experience do you believe will influence your ethos and decision making most throughout the duration of your time as GM of Union Iron?
From a purely philosophical perspective, I have learned to value hard work, to strive to gain deep understanding and to persevere. Success requires all three things.
Do you have any plans or goals for the immediate future of Union Iron that you would be willing to share with our readership? Which changes do you plan to implement and do you foresee any issues with doing so?
Change at Union Iron is constant. We recently introduced a new coating system, we call it Plus-Coat, which proved to be superior to hot-dipped galvanising in third party tests. We are preparing to manufacture AGI’s commercial bin sweep. We are expanding and improving our structural steel product line.
What are you doing daily to ensure the growth and development of Union Iron?
We’re focused on being the best; we’re focused on results and we’re focused on the customer experience. If we can stay focused we will continue to grow and perform.
What are the most pressing challenges that you face in your role at Union Iron today?
Whether it is generating sales, managing projects or designing new products it takes talented and motivated people. So, the biggest challenge is figuring out how to put the right people in the right positions. We then have to make sure they have a crystal clear understanding of the company’s goals and that they are driven with incentives that align their interests with the company’s interests.