Changing of the Guard: John-Paul Surdo talks about bringing his experience to his new position as president, Bystronic Americas

 

March, 2024- Q: What attracted you to the metal fabrication industry, and what do you find exciting about your new role?

A: Metal fabrication is at the core of many industries and produces materials used to continue to make a better world and enhance our daily lives, including agriculture, hospitals, construction and transportation. What excites me is the industry’s constant evolution and rapid progression. New technologies, materials and methods continuously push the boundaries of what’s possible, leading to more efficient and innovative processes. My role at Bystronic is to lead and shape the direction of a company deeply rooted in advancing metal fabrication technologies. Being at the helm means driving innovation, fostering growth and ensuring that the company stays ahead in the ever-changing market, all while creating new opportunities for our current and future employees. It involves working with talented teams, engaging with customers to understand what is shaping their requirements, and steering the company toward sustainable success. There’s a thrill in being part of an industry that produces materials and enables progress in so many other sectors.

Q: What is the biggest challenge fabricators are facing in the moment?

A: The availability of skilled labor and labor shortages in general. The industry requires workers with specific skills in welding and machining, and companies like Bystronic employ skilled workers to be able to install and repair the ever-more-sophisticated machines that are being used. This gap can hinder productivity, which challenges suppliers to continue to innovate and provide solutions that will allow the industry to do more with less. In addition, technological advances are moving faster than ever, and customization demands are becoming more relevant. Keeping up with rapidly advancing technologies, such as automation, robotics and digitalization, is challenging and complex. Additionally, it requires further investment and cash outlay to remain competitive and efficient, which sometimes can burden businesses in the short term. Fabricators are more challenged than ever with smaller lot sizes and complexity, which requires them to be more agile and invest in the capabilities to provide tailored products while remaining efficient and cost effective.

Q: What opportunities should fabricators be aware of as they work to stay competitive?

A: Embracing digital transformation and the need for real-time data will continue transforming business processes, improving efficiency, providing real-time insights into operations, and creating competitive advantages and agility. At the core of this transformation, businesses will see greater efficiency, transparency, flexibility and increased customer satisfaction. Investing in automation and robotics will enhance productivity, reduce labor costs, address labor shortages, and improve the precision and consistency of the fabrication processes and products. Any disruption to the fabrication process has a broad impact across the business, with added costs and delayed deliveries. With current labor shortages not being resolved for the foreseeable future, investments in automation and robotics are prudent for consistency and business sustainability. In addition, developing sustainability solutions can reduce environmental impact and open doors to new markets. Efficiencies of all types, including energy, convert directly to the bottom-line profitability of the business and a lower overall cost per part. And, investing in both training and expertise in a specialized market or application will set companies apart. Processes and people are at the core of each company’s differentiation model. Investing in new equipment to enhance processes and having talented and skilled employees specializing in producing your core products will set your business apart from the competition.

Q: Where would you like to see Bystronic in five years in terms of helping to shape the future of metal fabrication?

A: I see Bystronic continuing in its leadership position in delivering the best choice to the market for quality, innovation and reliability, while leading the transformation to a greener, more sustainable and digitalized industry. We will achieve this by continuing to invest and bringing to life our unique integrated end-to-end value proposition—systems and automation, software, and aftermarket predictive care programs. Most importantly, we will continue to hire, train and invest in our most important asset, which is our people.

Bystronic Inc., 800/247-3332, bystronic.com