Q: Describe your company.
A: We're the coolest company in what used to be the least-cool industry: Job-Shop manufacturing ... metal stamping, plastic molding. We started in Elmhurst in 1961 building progressive dies for metal stamping companies in the Chicago area. We still build dies, but we also do metal stamping, injection/insert molding, assembly, automation, prototyping from our facilities in the U.S., Mexico, and China.
Q: Do you plan to hire additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?
A: 2016 is looking like an exciting year for us. We are planning to add to our team and to our capabilities in all locations.
Q: What will your company's main challenges be in the next year?
A: To focus where we can make the biggest difference for our customers, shareholders and employees. We look at more than 3,000 new opportunities every year from a wide range of industries and companies ... from startups to Fortune 100 OEM's. I wish we could tackle them all, but we cant.
Q: What's the hottest trend in your industry?
A: "Local for local." 15 years ago, the trend was to move all of your supply-chain to low-cost countries. That worked for a while, as wages and living standards have increased in those 'low-cost' countries, the impact of logistics has started to be a major factor in supply-chain strategies. In 2000, we were net-exporters from all of our manufacturing locations, meaning what was produced in one region was exported somewhere else. For example -- U.S. to Mexico, China to Europe. Today, each of our facilities ships predominantly within the country we're located in, typically no more than 20-25 percent of our production leaves the country in which it was produced. Everywhere we operate in the world, we have to compete on price -- and we get there through productivity and creativity.
Q: From a business outlook, who do you look up to?
A: I look up to anyone that has learned from a mistake or come back from a disaster. Every business is unique. Every company culture is unique. What makes you the most successful (and resilient) is knowing that success isn't permanent and failure isn't fatal.
No matter how bad today might be, when you wake up tomorrow, it's still your job. What are you gonna do about it?
Q: Do you have a business mantra?
A: "The best way to predict the future is to create it." I've heard it attributed to multiple people, but it resonates with me.
Q: What is one interesting fact about you or your company that most people may not know?
A: The origin of our name, Bi-Link. I've heard some interesting guesses over the years. The truth is that it's the combination of the last names of our founders: Mr. Bily and Mr. Linklater.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: I've been diagnosed as "hobby-challenged," but I understand it's curable.
Q: What book is on your nightstand?
A: "Creativity Inc.," by Ed Catmull.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
A: Are we creating growth opportunities fast enough to keep our key employees motivated and to attract the very best talent we can?
Q: What was your first paying job?
A: My dad had a camera shop in Brookfield when I was growing up. My three brothers and I all took turns working there. I was waiting on customers when I was 12 years old. He paid me 50 cents an hour. I have been working ever since.
Q: If you could put your company name on a sports venue, which one would you choose?
A: I'd rather invest that money in our people and in our capabilities ... much better ROI.
Q: What is one funny thing that has happened to you in your career?
A: I deal with creative, technical people on a daily basis, around the world. There's something funny happening all the time.
Q: If you had one tip to give to a rookie CEO, what would it be?
A: Have a vision, communicate it and live it.
-- Kim Mikus