“I did industrial automation for years – I loved being in the supply chain, loved being on the shop floor – but that in itself is not transformative unless you’re using that tech, unless you’re using that change to actually shift how you do business.”

– Luke Smaul, Founding Partner at Chakra


One of the reasons so many digital transformations struggle to deliver the desired ROI is that they fail to escape the realm of technology projects to become full business transformation. In fact, many of the companies that think they have led digital transformations have really just led digitalization projects, taking data, documentation, and processes online without fundamentally changing what they achieve for the business as a whole.

Luke Smaul is the Founding Partner at Chakra, a consulting firm that believes in bringing focus, alignment, and balance back to the business world. Alex Smith is the Vice President of Field Service Operations and Safety for Edwards Vacuum, a key player in the semiconductor manufacturing process.

The semiconductor supply chain is highly specialized and complex, so when Chakra was helping Edwards through their transformation journey, the team was highly focused on how each change and effort was going to grow their top line and customer base.

In this conversation, Luke and Alex speak with Supply Chain Now Co-hosts Greg White and Scott Luton about:

· The importance of being (and remaining) laser focused on business outcomes, not just implementing technology for technology’s sake

· Why meaningful business transformation has to include a clear understanding of the voice of the customer

· How a well-executed business transformation can help a company weather unexpected disruption like that resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic

Intro – Amanda Luton (00:00:05):

It’s time for supply chain. Now broadcasting live from the supply chain capital of the country. Atlanta, Georgia heard around the world supply chain. Now spotlights the best in all things, supply chain, the people, the technologies, the best practices and the critical issues of the day. And now here are your hosts.

Scott Luton (00:00:28):

Hey, good morning, Scott Luton and Greg white with you here on supply chain. Now, welcome to today’s show Greg. Good morning. How are you doing? I’m doing great. I am ready for this. Let’s talk digital and business transformation and let’s see if folks can figure out what the heck we mean by that. Right? So thank you for that foreshadowing, Greg, we do have a great episode teed up. We’ve got a couple of innovative business leaders, uh, with us here today and you know, we’ve done about 400 podcasts. We’ve touched on business transformation and digital transformation quite a bit, but I think this is gonna be a really unique story where that is the main focus by a team and organizations that are really going through it. So our listeners will have certainly have a chance to increase our supply chain IQ, right? No doubt. Alright, so quick program note, before we get started here, if you enjoy today’s episode, be sure to check out all of our podcasts.

Scott Luton (00:01:19):

We publish Monday through Friday, which is a bit of an exception in the podcast community, but Hey, if you’re going to cover in the end global supply chain, you best be ready to produce a lot of content and exception is our middle name. Right? All right. And you can find us and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts from. Of course. All right. So now with no further ado, let’s bring in our two featured guests here, Alex Smith, vice president field operations with Edwards. Good morning, Alex. And then, Hey Dan, doing fantastic. Thanks for joining us. We talked about your ears have been burning for a few weeks and we look forward to diving into your story, your momentarily. Very good. And Luke small founding partner with chakra, Luke. Good morning. Good morning guys. Thanks for having us on. We are excited about this story. We’re excited to hear more about the bonafide transformative work that you’re doing together.

Scott Luton (00:02:11):

And I think there’s gonna be a lot of key, very practical takeaways for our listeners. So with no further ado, Greg, let’s dive right in. Right. Let’s do it before we get to the heavy stuff, right? The business transformation stuff. We really want to get to know you both a little bit better. So to do that, Alex, let’s start with you. Tell us a little about yourself in particular, where you’re from and give us a story or two about your upbringing. Okay. So yeah, I’m, I’m kind of a base in the UK, so where I was born. Um, and, um, I kind of was living in London and just recently moved out literally about a week or so ago, a little bit more country as the family’s expanded to something that’s, um, a little bit untenable in London, so we’ve moved out. Um, so yeah, UK based at the moment, that’s where our headquarters is as well. So at what’s that well, uh, childhood, I was,

Alex Smith (00:03:00):

Uh, I was very fortunate, I think, as a child, a great childhood and spent a lot of it, uh, abroad, actually my, my father’s job, we traveled and lived in various different countries. So spent, uh, about four or so years in Hong Kong and as a young child between kind of four nights and then also spent, uh, four years kind of in Tokyo, uh, kind of between kind of the ages of eight, eight to 12. And I’m really fortunate and I guess, you know, an interesting anecdote or kind of thing from my childhood that not a lot of people know is I actually did Sumo wrestling and

Scott Luton (00:03:38):


Alex Smith (00:03:40):

Well, I thought at the time I was, I can show you. Um, and, and, and interesting enough, I think at the time I was the only guy gin or non-Japanese to take part in and win a local tournament. So that was my, uh, my strange childhood anecdote that he knows about me. So that’s the, for me, I, I should have kept it to myself really, but now it’s out there. So anyway,

Scott Luton (00:04:03):

Yeah, that’s our, that’s our first Sumo wrestler. So that is a claim to fan great Alex, as, as our team was doing its homework, as we always do in all of our guests, that is one nugget we did not come across. So how did you manage to keep that off the internet that adds to the uniqueness of the episode? So, uh, Alex, I love, and one quick comment getting aside, I mean, to be able to have the international experiences and the immersion experiences you had as a, child’s gotta be a leg up as, you know, lead and conduct global business at Edwards.

Alex Smith (00:04:34):

Absolutely. But there’s no doubt about it. You know, it taught me a lot of things about, you know, cultures and differences of cultures and actually almost just enjoying that, you know, and that really being kind of something that’s quite enriching and almost something that they’re actually relish about, you know, working with the organization that I do. So yeah, no, very, very, very fortunate from that perspective. Okay.

Scott Luton (00:04:52):

Switching gears over to you, tell us about, you know, a little about yourself, where you’re from, and let’s see if you have an anecdote that is as unique as Alex shared about, I’m not going to match that. Scott,

Alex Smith (00:05:06):

I’m never going to forget it, Alex. That’s fine. That’s fine.

Scott Luton (00:05:10):

Yeah. Well now, you know, not to take him on loop, there you go. You know, that’s, that’s a given, so it’s kind of interesting. It’s almost the opposite where we started in the kind of same part of the world I’m in Ireland. That is not part of the UK, but similar region, the geography and, but yeah, kind of just a normal pre Celtic tiger upbringing. Um, and I kind of thirst and hunger and I do think the whole cultural part of change, the whole culture, part of transformation, the whole cultural part of the business, um, is so important. But I kind of got that on the, on the back end of even the bucket of, I guess, the middle of my career. So it’ll work for one of the big multinationals travel the world with them and they kind of had that thirst to go live else.

Scott Luton (00:05:57):

So now living on the West coast of the U S West Seattle, the West of the West West, it’s hard to get any farther West than that’s it Greg, about any for the rest of the tech, we’ll be heading home. So we’re going to dive in, we’re going to learn more about your, both of your professional journey is here momentarily, but one final question loop kind of on a personal side. What’s your favorite, what’s one thing that you absolutely love about living a love about West Seattle in that area? All of the outdoors. Yeah. I’m a huge mountain biker when I’m doing my, my buddies. Like you tried your ending with the family and yeah, we’ve got skiing, we’ve got hiking, we’ve got mountain biking, all kind of on our doorstep. So I’ll sacrifice the wetter for that beautiful part of the country. Okay, indeed. So let’s switch gears here a bit and let’s keep setting the table a bit and we’re going to talk about your professional journey prior to your current role. And Alex, we’ll start with you, you know, give a, give us a sense, kind of a reader’s digest version of your professional journey leading up just prior to your current role.

Alex Smith (00:07:02):

When I was, I guess in my kind of late teens, I was actually massively more into music to be honest. And it was really into playing, playing the guitar and it was in kind of various bands. And, you know, at that point I was absolutely set that I was going to be a rock star, but I thought what I do just to make sure that it’s going to be a bit of a, a flaky kind of a career. So I thought, right, I’ll get something solid under my belt. So I’ll do an engineering degree first. And then obviously, you know, if the rock career doesn’t work out, I can also always fall back and become an engineer. So one thing kind of leads to another and you do your degree and you finish, and then you ended up looking for engineering roles. And I thought, you know what?

Alex Smith (00:07:37):

I quite like engineering and I like the maths. And then that side of things, I started to pursue that and I liked cars and building cars and doing that kind of thing. So it really kind of worked out. And my first role out of university actually was with another large kind of semiconductor organization. And I was really fortunate to kind of work for them cause great company loads of resources. And it helped kind of accelerate my career and to kind of management quite quickly. And I specialized in kind of quality and quality management, continuous improvement, operational excellence, and how to actually improve and you know, all that all aspects of a business from a total quality perspective, that was a great company, really enjoyed working for them. And then I had a really cool opportunity to work in the formula one industry. So I joined a and worked for McLaren racing eight years.

Alex Smith (00:08:23):

Wow. I was kind of responsible there for kind of being the head of reliability and quality. And again, you know, maybe coming back to that kind of aspect of what it was, was when I kind of went to that job for that interview, my expectation was right. You know, this is going to be a company that’s absolutely at the forefront, but actually it was a different aspect. They were kind of saying, well, you know, we really want you to help show us and teach us how to do, do quality and reliability and build that in because you know, we got a fast car, we just can’t seem to win. We just can’t seem to win world championships because of our, you know, our operations and our quality and our reliability. So that was a unique challenge. And, you know, we really managed to kind of turn that around and it was great working there, you know, boyhood absolutely boy had dreams.

Alex Smith (00:09:05):

We were working in that kind of industry. Um, and then, um, and then yeah, kind of really then at that point, coming back to the cultural aspect, great company, you know, really cool brand, but it, but it is a small company, right. It’s one factory and yeah, you get to go around some nice places, but, but it is, it’s not a huge organization and I really wanted that global aspect then. So, you know, how do I kind of branch out and what did I, what did I learn and what could I do and, and, and apply the outside of a single factory to, you know, a global organization with multi-cultures really high demanding customers. And, you know, the semi con space was absolutely a gray area to kind of try then. So yeah, I really got kind of tempted back into to that. And that’s why I joined Deadwood’s really is to kind of take a lot of the learnings I had from those places.

Alex Smith (00:09:45):

And ultimately kind of say, right, well, here’s a skill set and here’s an ability to improve things in a V a variety of different types of businesses. Right. You know, I, I don’t think it needed to be kind of really, really specific on what that industry was. You can apply the same methodologies to those types of things, and that’s kind of what I wanted to do. Right. So that’s a that’s then why I went to Edwards and yeah. And that’s kind of where I’ve kind of got to now really, and why, and driving this, this real kind of continuous improvement and operations drive across, across this business.

Scott Luton (00:10:14):

Outstanding. Well, did y’all see Greg’s ears lethal when he mentioned formula one and McLaren racing, Greg quick sidebar. Why is that such a cool thing? Well, I’m big time into cars and I’m in college. I had a buddy who went to work for March racing. I don’t think he was ever at McLaren. And, and of course I’m just big into cars. So when were you at McLaren?

Alex Smith (00:10:43):

So I joined there in 2006. So I was there when, when Louis Hamilton won his first driver’s champ, which was, yeah, that was cool. That was good fun. That was, yeah.

Scott Luton (00:10:54):

I see. Now I noticed you didn’t claim credit for that, even though they weren’t winning before.

Alex Smith (00:10:59):

No, no, but I tell you, I mean, you know, statisticians amongst you can look at the numbers I left in 2014. So if you look at McLaren’s performance to 2014, then after that, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

Scott Luton (00:11:13):

Alright. Very good. Alex, you’re going to have to write a book. Yeah, no doubt, Sharon. All right. So look, same question to you. We’ll switch gears here. Let’s talk about your, your, you touched on that a little bit earlier, but expand a little bit more on your professional journey, especially what helped shape your current perspective when it comes to change in global business. Yeah, it’s actually interesting. You know, Alex mentioned that editors buck team are obviously focused on the semiconductor industry. So it’s kind of taken me almost 20 years to come full circle. And back when the Celtic tiger was booming in Ireland, we basically went to college as a, as a feeder college to go work for Intel has still a huge

Luke Smaul (00:11:54):

Employer background. Um, graduated just when the.com bubble burst, which was perfect timing to try and get you. Right. So I did a Marriott of, of random jobs for a couple of years, waiting for the economy to kind of recover. And it got in, um, to industrial automation. So I’m on the shelf floor, programming, robots, programming, PLCs, collecting data, you know, all this stuff we talk about now as IOT, but do not just with, with older technology and, and sort of grew up through that industry. So it started on the shop floor, like I said, right, hard hat, steel, toe boots, doing the stuff on the ground, and then kind of worked my way up, both in terms of my own career, on the technology. So move from the shop floor up to the manufacturing execution systems when we were managing, you know, 30 or 40 plants for some of the big brand name CPG companies, and then the next leap into, okay, what does that mean for the supply chain?

Luke Smaul (00:12:51):

What does that mean to ERP? So it was kind of growing with the tech, moving up through the layers of the, the contact Knology model. And at the same time, you know, with one of the big multinationals, they were kind of growing my career. So moving from engineering, into commercial operations, into becoming a sales executive, and you’re really just learning what it takes, whatever we’re talking about, manufacturing, manufacturing, operations, or supply chain operations to make technology work. And I don’t mean the bits and bytes. Like I get that I’ve done that I’ve done the whole software thing, but more from the people, the process. And most importantly, and this is kind of why I like working with, with Edwards on the strategy side. Right? What, what’s the stuff you got to do to make this stuff really be adopted and rework for the company?

Greg White (00:13:37):

Yup. So you came up in robotics around 2000.

Luke Smaul (00:13:43):

Yup. Yup.

Greg White (00:13:45):

So you’ve been doing this awhile. You were very, very young then I’m sure Luke, but I guess I think the point, the point of that is that is that’s a lot of years in robotics. Right. And I wonder, I know what I believe, but I’d like to ask you how that has helped you with things like IOT and some of the evolutions and revolutions in automation and robotics is, you know, as time has gone on. Yeah. Well, I think that there’s probably two

Luke Smaul (00:14:17):

Aspects to that. The first thing that it taught me and it’s, it’s part of why I started this, this new company, you’ve got to really focus on the value or we call nowadays the outcomes. So why are you doing it? You can’t do technology for technology’s sake. Right. And then just the ability to cut through all the noise and actually ask the right questions and figure out is this just, and this is why I struggled with, with digital transformation and IOT for years, is this just industrial automation or supply chain automation with a different label or one actually unique.

Greg White (00:14:52):

And there is some cool stuff, especially just in the world of robotics, unique things that we couldn’t have done 20 years ago. Thanks for reminding me, Greg, but we of do now. And that’s great, but it’s really, how do you cut through all of the hype and all the marketing and figure out, you know, a, why are you doing this? What’s the value add? And then B what’s unique about this new tech. Yup. Yeah. That perspective is really critical. And I think lens a lot to what you do, right. To have the perspective of, as you said, not technology for technology’s sake, but to what end right. To what outcome and what real value does it add. So before, before we get into business transformation and what all that means, share with us a little bit about where you both have landed. Now, Alex, let’s start with you and tell us a little bit about Edwards, a little bit more detail about Edwards and what your role is there. And then Luke will go to you as well. So

Alex Smith (00:15:54):

Yeah, we all have a kind of global leading supplier of a vacuum and abatement equipment probably into the semiconductor industry. We help provide, uh, those systems for our customers help their processes. It’s a critical part, really of the, the semiconductor manufacturing process. And we have the whole range and suite of products that kind of meet those requirements. Um, and, and what I kind of do really is, uh, I I’m, I’m looking at the field operations and what we do is we, we provide, uh, field and onsite service engineers to support our customers and their equipment help maintain the uptime and drive that productivity. And we’ve got, you know, we’ve got around kind of 1700 field service engineers globally. So it’s a big team, it’s a big operation. And I kind of look at, you know, uh, how will those engineers work? What do they do?

Alex Smith (00:16:41):

What systems and processes, how do we drive that, uh, how do we make them the safest, you know, the safest kind of operational unit in the world, how do we make them the best performing and really drive excellence in everything they do? Because they are critical to our kind of customers operations and the more value that they can kind of provide our customers really kind of helps, helps differentiate us and what we can do. So, you know, that onsite team literally is what our customers see first thing every day, right? It’s, it’s that, that is our brand. That is our value. It’s what they portray of our business, right? So it’s critical. Absolutely. That that team is, is a high performing team and, and really kind of helps our customers in their productivity. So that’s kind of what I do, and I’m responsible for that. And it comes into various aspects. Like I said, I’ve mentioned the, the systems and the processes we’ve mentioned the safety, the operational excellence, but it covers things around the customer support. And also, like I say, the digital tools and techniques and the kind of technologies that we want to bring in that supports the delivery of that, of that value proposition. Ultimately,

Greg White (00:17:40):

I have a quick question for you for our vast audience who may be less familiar with semiconductors. Tell us a little bit about the specific part that you play in, in the production of semiconductive. So people can get a handle

Alex Smith (00:17:53):

When, uh, the part of the process of manufacturing a semiconductor is, um, it’s a very complex process, uh, and, uh, and, and, and the gases and chemicals and things that are used to, to produce semiconductors, uh, highly, highly toxic. And they’re used to, uh, essentially, uh, create the, uh, the devices that are used. So to do that effectively, they need to be operating at high vacuum, uh, in an ultra clean environment. So our dry pumps, um, and our, our turbo pumps help create that vacuum the vacuum kind of system within the chambers so that the, the, the, the tools can, can manufacture the chips. So we pull out the nasty gases, we pull out the toxics and we kind of create that, that whole clean vacuum environment. Now that’s the, that’s the, that’s the pumping side of things. And then, um, those gases then pass through, uh, our abatement system.

Alex Smith (00:18:44):

So our abatement systems are essentially in, you know, in other words, when they call them scrubbers, essentially what they do is they clean the gases, right? So, so we can then have a system that takes those nasty gases, and they do some very interesting, clever stuff inside, which basically kind of combines them with, with various other kinds of gases. And we burn those, and then we kind of release it and we get rid of all the nasties and outcomes, outcomes, and nicer clean gases out of the top. So it really has a huge environmental benefit for that, for the semiconductor industry and a critical part. So we provide that as well as some other ancillaries around kind of thermal management systems, uh, and some other kinds of points around now, cryogenic systems that we have with our recent kind of acquisitions. So we’re looking really to provide that complete tool set around the, uh, the OEMs, uh, process tool of how we can then help support the kind of ancillary side of things around vacuum and abatement and those kinds of things that help create the environments needed to manufacture the semiconductor devices.

Greg White (00:19:43):

Hey, Greg, I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like you’re completely out of your league in a certain conversation, but I think I just received a certification from Alex there that I’ve never understood that element of semiconductors and, and really what abatement means when it comes to some of the, uh, things that go into making functional and successful semiconductor. So, Hey, Alex, I think I’ve earned that education. Yeah. Thank you. I mean, you put the clean and clean rooms, if anyone’s familiar, or even just seeing videos, it’s a white room with pretty much white everything in it and people in white suits. So think of some of those scenes you’ve seen from James Bond, where he comes, crashing into a room, that’s a clean room. Uh, and, and because this is a very important process and because there are, I love how you said that there are nasties generated in the gas gases of the process.

Greg White (00:20:38):

You have to keep that clean for the health of the workers and for the health of the product. So basically, I mean, if you break it down to its simplest simplest aspect, and this is, there’s a lot more to it, of course, Alex, but in terms of the clean room, you put the clean in it. Alright, Luke, man, it’s tough following Alex know, maybe we’ll flip this around a little bit, but no, look, you, you, your history is great and I’d love to, I’d love to have everybody understand what you all are doing at shocker and Luke, what your role is there to, to have, get a perspective of how you two work together. And we’re going to talk about that after this. So

Luke Smaul (00:21:16):

I’m glad you guys asked what a semiconductor is or how the industry works. I won’t name names, but I’ve got some people post to me in my life who, you know, a year into this thing where like, I just have to ask w w what is the magic?

Greg White (00:21:28):

Yeah. Just imagine your job is supply chain. And until this year, nobody has understood.

Luke Smaul (00:21:36):

Yeah. I kind of, I talked about right that background, growing up with PLCs robotics, that the classic industrial automation was lucky enough to be with one of the big multinationals that was pushing digital transformation, going back to probably 2016. Um, I really got to play at the C level, right? CEOs, the executive level of some of these big multinationals who are trying to figure out what digital transformation meant and the kind of Eureka moment for me and my co founder. And it was born out of a little bit of frustration. People were talking about IOT and industrial automation in the same sentence, which is no big deal, right? It’s newer technology to deliver similar results to industrial automation. Maybe it’s faster, cheaper, whatever, easier to connect. The frustration was that to us was digitalization, right? Digitize the process, maybe improve the process. Maybe you don’t, when you said digital transformation, I was really looking for what’s the transformative component of that statement and did industrial automation for years, love being in the supply chain, loved being on the shop floor, but that in itself is not transformative unless you’re using that tech, unless you’re using that change to actually shift how you do business.

Luke Smaul (00:22:54):

And that’s why we talk today. And we would talk as a business as a shocker of a business transformation. So we really left our, our big corporate jobs to say, the industry needs help distinguishing between digitalization and digital transformation. We’ve got a really clearly defined digital transformation, right? A year into this journey with banding shocker. We now call it business transformation. We’re trying to drop the digital part, um, and really redefined it as leveraging this new technology to create net new business models. And that’s really what we help our customers do. And what I get to do for a living, which is kind of cool, which is balancing that discussion around technology. But more importantly, what’s the business model. What are your customers actually want? And then I would say 80% of the work we do once we’ve clicked through all the noise of the tech is actually helping customers get into the market

Scott Luton (00:23:46):

From a sales perspective. But also just from a voice to customer perspective, I’m going to get back to basics of look. The reason you’re in business is not so much to run a supply chain or run a factory. It’s just support your customers. Let’s go have a chat with those folks, figure out what some of this stuff means to them. Understand these are net new value on the table, which there typically is. And then work with some of the Alex’s level to say, Hey, there’s new value on the table. Can we find a way to exchange that value that might be different than how we’ve done business in the past? Sure. That’s a business model, right? Not to confuse or get a bunch more terms and then reuse that to drive. This is business transformation or digital transformation. Okay. So that’s an excellent segue into, we’re going to dive headfirst into this really important topic of business transformation that a lot of companies struggle with.

Scott Luton (00:24:37):

And I think a lot of what you shared there, Luke, they struggle because they they’re, they’re buying off cliche definitions of what it means. I hate to break it anybody, but using Excel spreadsheets is not digitizing the business. It’s not digitization, but Hey, I don’t want to pick things a lot more sophisticated than that or not. That’s right. Right. Excellent point, Greg. Excellent point. All right. So let’s talk about the why first, right? That that is cliche, but it’s so important. The why behind business transformation these days, and Alex, we’ll start with you. Why the need for business transformation at Edwards?

Alex Smith (00:25:13):

You know, if we, if we look a little bit kind of wider and the industry in general, um, you know, you guys have already spoken a little bit about technology. So, you know, big data analytics and all the other various really kind of new exciting technologies are driving this kind of digital industrial revolution. So a lot of organizations are starting to talk about anyone trying to figure their way through it and what it means. And our industry is no different, you know, they’re the semiconductor manufacturer, breasts is hugely complex and it’s got a really broad and deep supply chain. So, so the more kind of efficiencies you can pull into that it’s going to been going to benefit everybody, obviously most importantly, our customers, which is really, really important. So our industry is driving that as well. They kind of calling it the smart manufacturing program, but again, it’s not, it’s not massively well-defined, and it’s not overly clear and different, you know, different companies in the sector, kind of thinking about it in slightly different ways or trying to meander their way through it.

Alex Smith (00:26:10):

But what is starting to become apparent is that with these very complex supply chains in different manufacturers and different pieces of equipment, the, the domain expertise really is the kind of, is the point that the customers are going to ultimately need to come back to. And, and when we have the domain expertise in our systems and products, nobody else has that, right? So, so we are the experts in what we make and what we service. We also kind of recognize that, you know, the area in the, in the fatberg lifecycle that we contribute to is a major contributor to, uh, to the success of our customers and their throughput in their out butts, their yields and productivity. So we absolutely see that we have kind of part to play in that. And then, you know, the other thing that we’re always looking at to do is, is you’ve always got to kind of see how do you differentiate yourself against your competition?

Alex Smith (00:26:57):

And again, that’s the kind of key part and the whole time we kind of stick with what we’re doing, will it happen? I don’t know, but ultimately thinking, are we going to get pushed down a commodity route here? And we’ve got to kind of try and prepare and plan for that. So that’s kind of, that’s kind of why I think that the major points of the business transformation need where there, uh, there’s an opportunity. Our customers will absolutely benefit from this will benefit from this as well. Uh, I think we can drive change. We can be leaders in what we do and yeah, we can absolutely segregate ourselves and pull further away from the competition. So I think that’s why that’s why this thing is so important to us. And, uh, and it’s really worth the, kind of the impacts and the efforts that we’re trying to put into it.

Scott Luton (00:27:38):

You know, we’ve had the benefit of, of talking a little bit about Edwards and what chakra is doing with Edwards with Luke prior to this call. So it’s not that all of this is discovery, but there is just a ton here that even having had that discussion. I don’t know. I feel like I’m finding out something new every, every time anyone talks here. And, and I think Luke, I’d like to kind of paraphrase what you’re saying, uh, what you’ve said in the past, and that is business trans transformation is over the top of industrial automation or, or even digital transformation or any of those other initiatives. And it is encompassing of all of those things to get to the, our new term, right. Loop, the outcomes, results, benefits, capital, right, whatever, you know, in industry, industry esteem, whatever it is that we’re looking for from a company. But I I’d love to hear Alex what digital or sorry, what business transformation really means in your environment. Everyone has their own definition, as I’m sure, you know, it’s an uphill battle to try to define any one of the segments we just discussed their digital transformation or digitalization or any of those things. So tell us what that means for you all at Edwards.

Alex Smith (00:28:59):

It’s probably worth going back a bit, um, just to, just to go through the story, I guess, or the journey that we kind of went to just a little bit, because, you know, it started exactly the same as I think most other organizations is, you know, the agenda comes out from, from, from the, the, the real senior people in the organization. Digitalization is the message, you know, you see phrases around your disrupt or be disrupted kind of being banded about various literature around those sorts of things. And, uh, you know, I’ll be completely open is that, you know, I was responsible for what the digital kind of strategy and plan was for, for, for the Edward semiconductor group. And, um, yeah, I fell down the same kind of stuff. I was throwing kind of technology stuff up on the, on the, on the PowerPoints and in the board meetings and you, we want this technology and that technology, and here’s a roadmap of when we’re going to deliver all these technologies because they gotta be great.

Alex Smith (00:29:47):

Right. You know, they absolutely got to be the things that are going to help. And, uh, and the conversations got slightly more difficult in each of these kinds of board meetings about yeah. But what does that mean? And, you know, what’s your business model and, you know, ultimately, you know, how is it going to benefit us, you know? And ultimately I think it really came down to a key question that was how, how are you going to make money from this? Because at the moment, all we’re doing is just talking about technology. And it was kind of really interesting. So was like, you know, people don’t often have the penny drop moment, but that was absolutely it for me. I was like I said, right, okay, I get it now. And what everything I’ve been doing so far is not right. And I absolutely kind of recognize that.

Alex Smith (00:30:23):

So that prompted me into kind of a bit of a kind of journey of personal discovery and learning about kind of what this kind of meant. And when I was engaging with lots of organizations and that’s actually how I met Luke three, kind of that, that process and that journey. And then that’s where it kind of really say, okay, well, we’ve been investing in these various technologies, we’ve got predictive maintenance, we’ve got some really kind of cool stuff that we’re working on. And, and ah, now it’s actually starting to click. I can see right. If I can use that, this is what I can now offer to our customers that I couldn’t offer before. Oh. And then that shifts our business model. And now our supply chain will starts to come into play because I can really kind of create some efficiencies around that. And now we’re talking about outcomes.

Alex Smith (00:31:03):

Now we’re talking about performance. Now we’re talking about value. We’re talking about the widget, right. And that’s kind of where it all started to kind of piece together. And Luke phrase it really well, you know, it was, it was, it was how do we use the technology, but now add in what is the core things that Edwards has. So our domain expertise and our operational excellence, how do we, how do we combine those three things? You know, so the people, the processes and the data and the analytics to now give our customers what they really want. Right. And that is going to one on now on kind of avail some new business models, some new ways of working that have value plus, and then value plus plus, uh, for, for, for, for all kinds of throw all kinds of links in that chain. Um, and that’s what it meant.

Alex Smith (00:31:45):

So we defined it as that. And we’re like, okay, this is, this is now what, what we, what we want to do here is our vision. And when we work closely with Luke and the teams to kind of shake that, then we really engage in is, okay, now, how are we going to deliver that? So they’re kind of thinking about what you want to do and what it means is one thing then doing it is another completely different challenge. Um, so, so yeah, I think, I think those are the main things for us really is that, you know, we could really then differentiate, we give customers what they want. We can pull in our real kind of core strengths of operational excellence into that. And now we could monetize this new Valley, new creations, new business models, and everything was starting to come to us from that aspect.

Alex Smith (00:32:21):

And then all made sense. I’ve got the tech, I’ve got this, I’ve got the other elements. Now it, now it feels like a strategy. And then, yeah, it really wasn’t that long before, you know, all the, again, all the power points and presentations changed from digital transformation to business. We’re not, it’s not digital anymore. This is a fundamental shift in our business. So it’s not about the technology and, and a, and Luke’s got the app to poster in the background of, uh, of where he’s there. Cause we talk about that quite a lot. Right. Cause it’s not about the technology. And honestly, we’re realizing that it’s as much, or if not more about all the other aspects of your business. So how do you communicate with our customers, how you Mark it, what you’re trying to do, how’d you sell in a different way? How do you kind of optimize through your supply chains has been your manufacturing and your service sensors along with you because they got huge gains to come out of this as well. Those are almost a bigger challenge rather than the technology. So I’ve probably waffled around that a little bit. Um, but, uh, but yeah, I think, I think that’s probably what it, what it really means to us is how do we then drive these new, these new business models.

Scott Luton (00:33:20):

Perfect. You’re reading my mind, Alex. Uh, Luke, ask you a question real quick. Uh, and Greg I’m interject just for a second. I bet you’re going where I was going. Go ahead. Perhaps it’s these new business models, you know, such an important part of change is to get an organization and a leadership and a full team to commit to it, right. And drive through that, that barrier, all the, all the obstacles that are barriers to driving through and really making change happen, what was one or two things that, that really allowed the Edwards team and the whole effort to really commit to these new business models. Do you think

Alex Smith (00:33:53):

It’s a really good question. Um, it took us a while to figure out exactly kind of what we wanted to do, but we had previous kind of digital strategies and, and previous kind of, uh, software sales and various things that, that, that, that probably weren’t being as, as, um, as productive as we would have hoped. And we knew we had, we knew we had something unique here. Right. We knew we had something that, uh, that customers would have wanted absolutely would have added value. And we saw the benefits that our field teams were bringing. So, so actually once we, once we created the overall picture and, and kind of what it looked like and piece everything together, actually, it was, it was pretty easy internally. Right. You know, we all got a lot of, kind of, yeah, this, this, this, this now feels right. And it now makes sense.

Alex Smith (00:34:34):

And it’s not something that we’re just kind of throwing together a there’s a clear strategy we can see, we can see how this is actually really going to benefit our customers or something that we want. So that was the first step we got that. That was really good. And then, um, and then, yeah, it’ll kind of let you say, right. How are we now going to deliver this kind of speed? And, um, yeah, I think at that point, I thought, right, we’re going to need a team. We’re going to need a ring fence team. We’re going to dedicate some resources to this. Can’t be part of somebody else’s day job. It’s absolutely gotta be this team. And we’re going to create this team and we’re going to pull them together. We’re going to get on the bus and we might not be sure exactly where the bus is going, but they’re all going to get on.

Alex Smith (00:35:09):

And they’re going to really be excited about something cool. That’s coming up. And that’s what we did. That’s absolutely what we did. So we pulled in marketing, we brought in kind of R and D. We pulled in technology experts, program managers, finance, we pulled in kind of communications. And this whole team, we really kind of pulled in to say, right now, let’s go and deliver on this vision. And we’re going to bring in some expertise from people that know more about this than what we do. And they’re going to kind of really help us shape us and drive this drive, set the pace.

Greg White (00:35:38):

So, Luke, um, I’m curious about a couple of things. One is what you saw, maybe when you came in to Edwards and two, how you surfaced what I like to call their super powers, which is what Alex is talking about, their operational excellence and things like that. And then how you got to the point that Alex just described where you weren’t having to take people off their day jobs to help conduct this transformation and make it happen. And then maybe share a little bit about some of the results that, that at least from your perspective, you think Edwards is capitalized.

Luke Smaul (00:36:15):

Greg. Yeah. So I think that the, the huge thing that hit me when I started working with Alex and working with Edwards was sort of this openness to look we’ve, we’ve tried a bunch of stuff. We’ve, we’ve read the articles, we’ve listened to the marketing, um, um, work we’re going to beat up a little bit by the board are getting asked the right questions. So w we’ve got to start shifting to, and they’ve heard me speak at different events. And we kind of, they’d said, look, we, we understand that you think about these things help us make that real. And I think having that, and we, you know, you see this on LinkedIn all the time, right? All the content around executive sponsorship is required for change, which is, which is great. So you need that in the first place, right? So you need the openness on the ear of right.

Luke Smaul (00:37:00):

Sea level, president level. But the important thing of why you started working and Alex said it really well, it clicked. And, and the way we were able to do that with Edwards and why we kind of uncovered our superpowers was a lot of companies they sell via the latest specification, the latest widget, but that’s ultimately not like people actually make a decision to buy from you. That’s like the gate, that’s the milestone. You gotta meet this spec. But ultimately when you make a decision to buy, it’s typically all the things you do from a business perspective, all of your operations, all of your supply chain, all the product engineering is baked into that decision. So what we did was spend time in the field in these customer meetings, listening to the day to day conversations. They’re having what customers care about, why they actually buy from Edwards, again, spec sheets, apart of that.

Luke Smaul (00:37:54):

But it’s ultimately how both companies run and how they partner together. So as soon as we put business transformation and digital transformation in that context, that’s when that click happened. And that’s so important when you talk about executive sponsorship, that doesn’t mean just, you know, every three months you get on a steering call and you show everyone what you’re doing on the slide. Can you actually make sense of what you’re doing and what transformation you’re driving in context of what that executive cares about and how they think about their business. And once you marry those two things together, right? Why they think their own business, the numbers they track with what you’re doing, then the business starts to kind of follow behind you. A critical part of that. Again, that’s, that’s kind of step two, right? So get, get them on board, make what you doing in context of, of the value that they care about what their customers caravan, but then you, you’ve got to be able to show progress pre-revenue which is such an important part of, of what we do and what we can help companies with him is set up what we call innovation metrics.

Luke Smaul (00:38:57):

So what are the things that are showing you you’re having success before you got to revenue? Because everyone loves ROI. Everyone loves, like it’d be dollar nagging me $10 next month, that doesn’t work when you’re driving big transformational change. But there are ways you can put metrics in place that every month, every quarter you can check back and see like, Hey, is this messaging resonating with the market? Are we getting the right feedback from our installed base? Are we getting the right kind of meetings with people I’m really just testing as you go that the market is responding in the way you want to

Scott Luton (00:39:27):

Quick wins. Right? I mean, I think that’s key to keeping executives on, on the side and continuing to sponsor these kind of initiatives is show that constant progress. Otherwise it seems like you’ve gone back into a dark room and you’ll come back three years later with a new business, which is scary for an executive. Who’s got to answer board questions every month or every quarter.

Luke Smaul (00:39:50):

And I think having, having the, this, this sort of bravery, I guess, or just challenging people in the organization, when you say quick wins, everyone thinks all you’re going to get me a PO, like I want it. Right, right. Go redefined us people. You can have conversations with CFOs. You can have conversations with CEOs and say, I’m going to define a win. As six people came to a webinar, right. We did an educational piece on what we think the new world looks like. We push it. I have 300 people, six people attended and one of the wants to do a follow up meeting. Oh, tell me what I have to win. Oh. Because the market’s responding to the change you’re making. Okay.

Scott Luton (00:40:26):

Sometimes it is as simple as defining and surfacing those kinds of things. Right. Right. So Luke real quick, from your perspective, tell us a little bit about the results that have come from this and w you know, what, what your perspective is. And then Alex, I’d like to have you chime in on that, to what your perspective is as to how that’s impacted Edward’s business or, um, or, you know, whatever the goals were that, that the executives might’ve had for this initiative.

Luke Smaul (00:40:57):

Yeah. So I think from, from my perspective, it’s great to have gotten that executive buy-in early on set those innovation metrics, set those milestones on a quarterly basis. And we really being delivering those together quarter on quarter. And they’re things like, okay, let’s pick a region on launch in that region. Um, pre pandemic. That was me and Alex jumping on a plane, getting in region, spending time with the local team, making sure they understand it. And then going to sales meetings. Like I promised Alex, when we started this, I’m going to bring you to the actual sales meetings if you didn’t believe me, but now we’ve now we’ve done it. Um, so, so the results we’re seeing is we’re in these sales meetings and we’re seeing the head notes, we’re seeing the conversations, we’re cutting through a lot of the noise you typically have to deal with when it comes to listening to sales, listening, to marketing, what’s the real Watson excuse being in those meetings, getting the head nods. And now we’re starting to see the pipeline of, of new business behind this business model grow. Um, and that’s huge. If you think about that, the timeline we’ve worked to not only have we launched, but we’ve done it in a way that we’re able to get those already signals as early wins, but now real business and real pipeline building for Alex with his team. That’s great. Alex, what about you? What are you seeing as, I mean, aside from that, or in addition to that as the benefits of this business transformation?

Alex Smith (00:42:28):

Yeah. Some of the wins I think we’ve had is it’s now on everybody’s language. Right. And, and, and that was an interesting one in kind of previous roles I’ve done as well. When are you going to bring in change when you’re going to join a new program? When, when the vocabulary changes, when the language changes, when people’s kind of strategies, uh, and where they’re going, changes, that’s a real key win. And you know, it really, wasn’t probably much, much more than a year ago. You know, we were sitting in a room with Luke and the team and my team and trying to define, right. What does the first business model look like? Okay, where, where poorly a year later than that, we are very, you know, w we’re getting our first kind of POS actually coming now. So we’ve gone from concept in a room set up to POS in a year, but every time we have a regional review, we have kind of a monthly reviews with all the regions and they talk us through, uh, their plans and their strategies and what are their initiatives.

Alex Smith (00:43:22):

Every region now has a new business model on their plans, right? So they all, they all absolutely seen this as an opportunity to grow our business, drive more value for our customers, differentiate us further. So they will absolutely see that, see the relevance of it as well. So, so that’s a huge win for me is that, you know, everybody knows what it is, everybody’s talking about it and everybody’s baking that into their plans. So that that’s really, really good. You know, we’re seeing some other kinds of results in some kind of things that kind of really help us sound check that what we’ve done is right. I think, um, you know, the recent experiences we’ve had with, uh, with, with virus COVID-19 is just real kind of proof that focusing on operational excellence and focusing on the supply chain and the efficiencies, it really is just the right thing to do, right.

Alex Smith (00:44:04):

It absolutely is cementing all that kind of things and all the theory and all, all those things that we thought, yeah, this makes sense. It really has kind of really has proven that and that the supply chain resilience really enabled us to kind of weather that storm. Um, and, uh, again, the, the strength that we had there through, you know, these key key regions like China and South Korea and Taiwan, we maintain business there. We did not let any SLA down at any point during that time to just show the resilience, the strength of the operational excellence, and then the supply chains that we have in place. So again, really kind of cement it to us. Yeah. You know, we’re doing the right thing. It absolutely makes sense. So I think those are probably the main ones for me, really. Um, like I said, we’ve, we’ve gone from concept to pose in a year. We’ve got every region talking about it, it’s on everybody’s plans and strategies, and, and it’s now starting to take shape. And I’m just kind of really thinking and hoping that rate’s going to be a little bit of a snowball effect. So we got the first little snowball, it started to roll down the Hill. Everybody knows it’s coming down the Hill. And, uh, and we’re hoping now we’re really gonna see this thing take shape and group as we can grow as we go around them.

Scott Luton (00:45:09):

Interesting. I got exactly the opposite answers that I expected from each of you. I thought, Luke, that your answers went more to the, the bottom line and the results that I’m sure Alex expressed, and that the executives at Edwards express, they wanted out of this, but the first, but the first result Alex, that you spoke about was changing the dynamics at the company. And I think it’s interesting that the perspectives there. So to me, it speaks to the fact that you all are very well aligned when, when Luke understands and believes that you are delivering on the bottom line benefits and you believe in the more ethereal and longer term benefits that tells me that you have really communicated strongly and it does bode well for that snowball effect. Just in my experience, I like the, uh, the phrase I heard Alex use a couple of times from concepts in the boardroom to purchase orders in a year.

Scott Luton (00:46:11):

I mean, that’s, that is true. Bottom line change. And of course you add that, that the bottom line financial results to the changing of the culture that both of you spoke to when folks are embracing the new vernacular and basin, embracing new book, vocabulary the language, but also committing themselves to this, this hard, challenging tasks that is transforming a business. I mean, to get those early adopters and those folks committed to, to this, this journey, what a story. All right. I got a fun question for you. Look, as you think about this sort of journey that you and Alex and the team have taken together, tell me about, I don’t know, your favorite aspect or your favorite part of going through this journey together. This has been a huge change, obviously, culturally, as Alex has expressed and, and from a top and bottom line standpoint, at least starting to be there other than hanging out and talking about formula one and mountain biking.

Scott Luton (00:47:10):

What, what has been your favorite moment? I’ll tell you guys a good story. So I’m a big believer. I, I, I’m a recovering sales guy, so I’m a big believer most that has changed. And the internal stuff is so, so important that I, I kind of, it’s almost a given with, with Alex and his team and the way they drive change. But for me, where this happens is in those meetings is, is looking the customer in the eye and watching their reaction and being able to explain what you’re doing in context of what they care about. So he original plan again, pre pandemic was me and Alex on planes, shooting all over the world, getting into these early adopter meetings, having these conversations, um, back last year, uh, around Thanksgiving, I did warn my cofounder that, Hey, we’re working for a UK company. Who’s focused on Asia.

Scott Luton (00:47:54):

We’re not going to get a Thanksgiving. So we were in Taiwan, we flew out there and we went to a meeting. I was one of these, these early adopter meetings with one of Alex’s big and customers and the whole meeting was in Mandarin, right? So we’re sitting there, we’re just not in our heads. And looking at the slides, slides were in English, thankfully, but all the conversation. And there’s a lot of jovial kind of back and forth between the sales guy who Carrie has a good relationship with the account. Um, and it, it finishes with, is there any questions or anything you’d like to say to the executive we have in town with Alex and the, this is a senior guy who’s responsible for that manufacturing plant looks at Alex and just says, thank you, which we, we learned afterwards was the biggest compliment, right? That’s no, we’ve, you came, you, you showed us the presentation that care that you’d sponsored and it kind of made sense to us. And so I’m just here. So that was kind of the first part, the best part I went home and on the car ride back to the train with Alex, he’s like,

Alex Smith (00:49:01):

Man, this sales thing is easy.

Scott Luton (00:49:06):

Yeah. Like a true engineer. Love it. Hey, before we ask about what’s next for Edwards in this whole initiative, Alex PicoWay, I think you touched on this during some of the results, but just to, um, this was one of my favorite parts of the prep conversations, you know, the Edward’s ability to reduce the take, make and waste dependence, right. And change that footprint as part of, of some of this transformation.

Alex Smith (00:49:31):

Could you speak to that just a little bit, Alex? Yeah, absolutely. You know, I think, um, you know, our idea here really is in a way that’s kind of supports is more down the kind of reduce, reuse and recycle, um, and moving to kind of products or service really gives us, uh, the full control and the ability to do that. You know, it puts that whole supply chain with us. We can really optimize all those kinds of aspects of it. And, you know, we’ve been doing a lot of this stuff for quite a few years now, especially kind of with links to circular economy. We, um, you know, I kind of mentioned really early on that, um, uh, the, the semiconductor process is pretty harsh and toxic. So with our dry pumps and our turbo pumps, essentially what that means is we can’t service them at the customer’s site because they’re just contaminated.

Alex Smith (00:50:20):

So we have a network of kind of global service technology centers where we, where you return these products to and remanufacture. And we’ve been doing that for, for, for many, many years. And we really are the best in the world that are there. There’s absolutely no comparison at all. And, you know, that supports all that because we may, we may make a, we may make a pump once and manufacturer it once. But the, these products we can, we can get served this license 20 years, 25 years. And, and, and even once we get past the latest technologies, we have certified programs and exchange programs where we buy back, um, kind of, uh, the use systems from customers when they’re looking into what grade’s latest technology will refurbish and, and exchange those and sell those onto other customers. So we’re really driving that whole kind of reuse and recycle aspects.

Alex Smith (00:51:06):

Now you bring in this predictive maintenance element to it as well. And wow, it really starts to wait for an outright. All the optimization really now starts to come to you. You can really start. So I think execute some of the theoretical models around lean and just in time and perfect supply chain and delivery, and we can really start to trigger resources and everything based on these kinds of decisions. So that’s, that’s the bit I’m kind of, you know, just as excited about really is, you know, how do we then start to drive this new wave of internal kind of change and Optima optimization and real kind of morale and motivation around this stuff? Because, you know, we’ve been, we’ve been flogging the other stuff for a long, long time. Now, if someone got this great new kind of Avenue to really kind of spice it up, and I think it looks at new creative ways to drive efficiencies around the, around the supply chain.

Scott Luton (00:51:54):

And I bet that just seeings to your customers and to your perspective customers, it is in demand. And I love how you’re baking that into the model as part of driving continuous improvement and resetting the model for future growth. So I love that element. Um, all right. So Greg, did you have a comment before we, we ask Alex and, uh, what’s next for Edwards? I thought you were going to say something there. No, I just, as I think I probably should save this for the very end, but as I think through this discussion, I think, and I think it’s important for our listeners to understand how advanced a viewpoint this is, and I’ll go into that when we wrap up. But, um, I think you have to understand too, that there is, uh, there’s a lot, not as much not being said as, as being said, because Luke and Alex have such a mature viewpoint around some of these topics. So, um, it’s just the, the overall feeling that I have is that this is a company and a group operating at an extremely high level. Right. We’ll put, we’ll put, all right. So as we kinda move towards the final segment here, uh, as we’re talking with Alex Smith with Edwards and Luke small with chakra, what’s next Alex, as if you haven’t come and I know you’ve come so far, but, but what is next?

Alex Smith (00:53:16):

So, so next really is a, is how we push on with our journey to products as a service. Um, we’ve successfully got through step one. I think our first business model is, like I say, it’s now really permeating, not just through, uh, uh, our internal kind of organization, but now with, with proof of concepts and like, say PO starting to come in from, uh, from our external customers. So we’re really pleased and happy about that. We now need to get on to kind of phase two, uh, with shakra and the team, uh, that’s gonna allow us to take more of our customer’s risk. We’re going to bake that in as well. So more risk, more reward if we don’t deliver, we lose. Right. So we’ve now got to define what that looks like a little bit and how we kind of start to go, go down that route, but, but there’s more value in that as well.

Alex Smith (00:54:03):

Right. There’s absolutely more value to where there’s more risk, there’s more value and we are absolutely up for that. So we need to shape that. Um, but, uh, yeah, you know, the end kind of thing is really how do we re we start to wane to have a suite of models, uh, kind of finessing in the product as a service. And that’s really going to get us, uh, get, get us, get us this kind of unlocking of the market that we really can feel we can take. So step one, I think, you know, Luke and I would look at each other and say, well, I think we’ve done a good job on that. I think that, I think, I think we’ve passed the acid test. Let’s say, let’s watch the snowball growth to, to coin the phrase again. And we’re keeping a very close eye on that. And now let’s start to, let’s start to see how we want to build the other snowballs going forward. I think

Scott Luton (00:54:43):

Love that. I love the visual that, that puts between my ears, Luke, anything you’d add to that? No, I think that’s spot on, right? What is the next kind of snowball? We’re going to push down the mountain and Alex and I have kind of a joined up vision of vibe. And then I think, you know, Greg, you said it, well, someone said this to me yesterday, we’re potentially two years ahead of where a lot of businesses are at least. Right. So when I think about that from Edward’s perspective, it’s, it’s continuing the education, continuing getting those wins, making sure that it’s still top of mind for everybody internally and for the customers, right? Because these contracts aren’t going to auto renew, right. We gotta continue to add value and I can go back next year and explain what we’ve done. Um, and then for Shakara right.

Scott Luton (00:55:30):

It’s what keeps me up at night. I, there’s a great phrase and you guys are startup guys too, so you’ve got it, but being too early as being the same as being wrong. Right. Um, so making sure we’re, we’re working with the early adopters, we’re getting partners like, like Edwards, who, who get this stuff and can move the kind of speed we want to, but then even though we’re moving on to the next big thing with, with Alex, making sure we bring the market along with us. Right. And, and I think, you know, thank you guys for having us on these kinds of forums where we can help educate and show. Look, this is very doable. It’s very real. It’s happening in industries that, you know, Edwards are a hundred years old, um, and a big part of unthinkable next. Exciting, very exciting. All right.

Scott Luton (00:56:09):

So this is, you gotta give this, give us your answer in a small nutshell, this final question before Greg asked you to make sure our audience can connect with you both. All right. So if you look past business transformation, you look past the semiconductor industry look kind of in the global business environment that we’re all in. What is one thing? And Luke, what we’ll stick with you here. What’s one thing that you’re tracking more than others right now, issue development, innovation, you name it. What’s one thing. Yeah. So, so the big area we’re focusing and we’re doing some work in this now is all around the circular economy, Alex hit on it. Right. And the reason I like that is I think some people see it as sustainability to Datto. In reality, it’s taken all this stuff we’re doing with Alex. It’s embedding a business model shift in how your supply chain operates so that it’s just not true sustainable. And that’s what that was getting me excited is it’s got that business model piece to it. Outstanding Alex, what’s your one thing.

Alex Smith (00:57:05):

Yeah. Unfortunately it’s the same, sorry to spoil everyone that I, I I’m completely with leak on that. I think this is a really exciting thing, you know, for all the reasons leaps explained, but also I think it’s gonna, it’s gonna enable organizations to really partner. Right. And I think, I think that’s, what’s going to shift things. So, you know, we’re going to be able to create partnerships with our customers, with our suppliers and all in the driver of the right cause of it. Then that’s going to enable the things that we’re stumbling on. Like, you know, the data sharing and the kind of securities and sensitivities around that. So yeah, I really see that the circular economy pieces is probably, you know, a potential key to unlock all of that. Um, so yeah, I think, uh, yeah, I think I’m with Luke on that one as well.

Scott Luton (00:57:49):

I have to ask this because I feel like for both of you that you could get a lot of outreach. So tell our listeners how they can connect with you, Alex. And also with Edwards,

Alex Smith (00:58:01):

You can connect with that with me, uh, in Edwards through, uh, our Edwards innovation.com. That’s where you’ll be able to read up and learn a lot about all the stuff that we’re doing and really kind of find out more. Obviously, please also feel free to reach out to me on, on LinkedIn. Now you can find, uh, find me on LinkedIn and more than happy to help her establish and grow my network through those. So I’d say those are the two best, two best routes. Thank you.

Scott Luton (00:58:26):

Yeah. Yeah. Thanks for joining us. And Luke, tell us how, how can folks reach out to you and chakra? Yeah, absolutely. These days, LinkedIn, that’s my go to place to kind of business socializing and get work done. So yeah. Please find me on LinkedIn, reach out, always happy to talk to folks. And then if you want to see more about what Shakara does and what we’re up to our website is www dot shocker dot experts. All right. So Greg, before I wrap up, what’s your a one final thought after hearing this pretty incredible story here today, all about driving real meaningful, practical change, I’m going to try to be concise, which you know, is not my nature, but I’m going to start way back at the beginning with, uh, something Luke told us when we first started talking about Edwards and also at the beginning of this discussion, this recognition by a company that clearly is a leader in their industry that they could become commoditized, right? That word has stuck in my mind. And, and how

Greg White (00:59:22):

Do you not just avoid that, but eliminate that possibility. And that is what, from my perspective, that is one of the key leavers that started this whole business transformation and this recognition and this cultural change that had to occur. Really. I think it was not a complete shift just from what I’ve heard about Edwards, but it was still it’s significant that, that they had the cultural capability to employ even the idea to change, to support it through what is inevitably a difficult transformation, and then to execute it going into the future. That is truly impressive. And again, as I said before, the, the maturity of understanding of their business and, and of course the great work that Luke has done, I think I’m going to encourage, because I think Luke is maybe not able or too humble to express his, his work history completely, but I’m going to encourage you all to go look at Luke’s work history, and then you’ll understand a lot about why he can bring such a mature and complete solution to accompany even as advanced as Edwards is we’ll bring Luke back for the rest of the story, right?

Greg White (01:00:38):

Harvey approach. Um, Hey, huge, thanks. Uh, Alex Smith, vice president field operations with Edwards. What, again, what a, an inspirational story. I appreciate you kind of breaking it down for the non-engineers like myself, right? Where, where the industry alone can be really challenging to grasp. And then of course, change in a complex industry to kind of takes the tune a new level, but I believe there’s gonna be a lot of key takeaways for business leaders, regardless of what industry they’re in from this conversation. So Alex, thanks so much for joining us and best of luck to you and the team. Thank you. Cheers. Thanks guys. Of course, Luke small, uh, founding partner with chakra appreciate all that you shared appreciate you kind of helping us facilitate this conversation, uh, and, and best of luck for continued growth over there. Chakra. Thanks guys. It’s been a pleasure.

Greg White (01:01:25):

Well, Hey to our audience, hopefully you’ve enjoyed this conversation as much as Greg white and myself have. Um, Hey, if you’ve enjoyed this one, check us out wherever you get your podcasts from. You can also also check out a wide variety of other resources and webinars and events. You name it over at supply chain, that radio.com and on behalf of the entire team here, Greg white, myself, Amanda Clay, you name it wishing you all the best in the, in the weeks and months ahead, a do good, give forward, be the change that’s needed. And on that note, we’ll see you next time here.

Would you rather watch the show in action?  Watch as Scott and Greg welcome Luke Smaul and Alex Smith to Supply Chain Now through our YouTube channel.

Luke Smaul is an experienced technology and business leader with almost 20 years of experience in the fields of manufacturing and digital transformation. This cross-section of expertise bolsters his pragmatic approach to problem solving and founder’s mindset to approaching today’s most important digital-industrial challenges. He has a passion for finding innovative solutions to complex problems and takes a people-first approach when solving for and delivering on the promise of “digital.” This experience and passion led him to co-found Chakra, an innovation firm that focuses on business model transformation in both the digital and circular spaces. Chakra partners with companies to solve for tomorrow’s most pressing problems today, cutting through the noise and finding the right solutions for scale and transformation. Learn more about Chakra here.


Alex Smith is Vice President of Field Service Operations and Safety for Edwards vacuum. His focus is to provide a differentiated Field and On-Site Service capability to achieve high levels of customer satisfaction and profitability by delivering industry leading levels of Safety, Reliability, Repeatability and value added services to the Semi-Conductor industry. Alex has a successful track record of delivering Customer satisfaction improvements through structured global change strategies and programs. Prior to his current role Alex was the Service Quality Director where he implemented global VOC and warranty reduction programs, and prior to joining Atlas Copco, Alex was Head of Quality at McLaren Racing, implementing quality and reliability improvements supporting the F1 championship success in 2008 and multiple reliability awards. Learn more about Edwards Vacuum here.

Greg White serves as Principle & Host at Supply Chain Now. Greg is a founder, CEO, board director and advisor in B2B technology with multiple successful exits. He recently joined Trefoil Advisory as a Partner to further their vision of stronger companies by delivering practical solutions to the highest-stakes challenges. Prior to Trefoil, Greg served as CEO at Curo, a field service management solution most notably used by Amazon to direct their fulfillment center deployment workforce. Greg is most known for founding Blue Ridge Solutions and served as President & CEO for the Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader of cloud-native supply chain applications that balance inventory with customer demand. Greg has also held leadership roles with Servigistics, and E3 Corporation, where he pioneered their cloud supply chain offering in 1998. In addition to his work at Supply Chain Now and Trefoil, rapidly-growing companies leverage Greg as an independent board director and advisor for his experience building disruptive B2B technology and supply chain companies widely recognized as industry leaders. He’s an insightful visionary who helps companies rapidly align vision, team, market, messaging, product, and intellectual property to accelerate value creation. Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams to create breakthroughs that gain market exposure and momentum, and increase company esteem and valuation. Learn more about Trefoil Advisory: www.trefoiladvisory.com


Scott W. Luton is the founder & CEO of Supply Chain Now. He has worked extensively in the end-to-end Supply Chain industry for more than 15 years, appearing in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Dice and Quality Progress Magazine. Scott was named a 2019 Pro to Know in Supply Chain by Supply & Demand Executive and a 2019 “Top 15 Supply Chain & Logistics Experts to Follow” by RateLinx. He founded the 2019 Atlanta Supply Chain Awards and also served on the 2018 Georgia Logistics Summit Executive Committee. He is a certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and holds the APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) credential. A Veteran of the United States Air Force, Scott volunteers on the Business Pillar for VETLANTA and has served on the boards for APICS Atlanta and the Georgia Manufacturing Alliance. Follow Scott Luton on Twitter at @ScottWLuton and learn more about Supply Chain Now here: https://supplychainnowradio.com/


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