Great Lakes Case & Cabinet’s new president, Jonathan Markley, joined the company last month after an impressive career that showcases his expertise in both engineering and leadership. A Penn State Behrend and Milwaukee School of Engineering alum, Jon spent more than 10 years with General Electric. In 2013, he left GE to become President of SECO/WARWICK, a manufacturer of industrial heat treatment equipment. Jon resides in Erie, PA with his wife Paula and their three boys, Benjamin and twins Robert and Samuel. Get to know him in today’s Q&A:
What drew you to GLCC?
The growth potential of the industry and the feel I got through the interview process about how the company conducted business. The Lowthers worked extremely hard to build a strong foundation for the company and I’m excited to continue to build on that to take the company to the next level.
What are you most excited for in your new role at GLCC?
The company has a very solid foundation – great products, great people, and they’ve really worked hard to do things the right way. Despite that, we still have a lot of room to grow – which I don’t view as a bad thing. In fact, what excites me the most is the opportunity to work with the team to continue to grow the company.
What’s something you thought about GLCC coming in that you’ve changed your mind about now that you’re in the weeds?
I’ve made a concerted effort to keep my mind open and learn how things are being done before I make any judgements.
Where do you see GLCC in the next 5 years? 10 years?
Simply put: We are going to grow. The data center market is going to continue to skyrocket in the medium-term and we need to figure out how to access more of it. On top of that, our manufacturing facility is one of the most impressive I’ve seen from an automation standpoint. The opportunities for growth are endless.
As a former engineer, how does your technical background benefit you? Do you approach problems differently than other leaders may?
The problem-solving mindset is probably the biggest thing that I use from my engineering background. I am sort of a data junkie so I’m always looking to lean on data to help understand and solve problems.
How would you describe your approach to leadership?
A lot of people say, “Lead from the front,” but I like to think of it as leading from the middle – I don’t mind diving into challenges with people and helping with the solution, while both pushing them to be better and leading by example.
How do you lead differently now than you did 5 or 10 years ago?
More shaping – less doing. It’s a hard transition to make because sometimes it’s easier to just do things yourself but if you want to be effective as a leader with larger and larger teams, you need to make the transition.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from a mentor?
If you aren’t growing, you are dying. I try to channel this mindset in everything that I do.
Who inspires you and why?
My mom – she doesn’t seem to back down from any challenge.
If you could have lunch with one leader in the business world, who would it be with? What one question would you ask?
Warren Buffet – I have more than one question for him but the first one would probably be “Tell me about how you got started.” I’m always curious about what drove people to head down the path they chose and how those first few steps were taken.
What’s the single most important ingredient when it comes to a successful client relationship?
Trust. This is true for all relationships, not just with the client.
How would you describe your approach to tackling challenges when it comes to the client?
Listen carefully to understand the real issues. Then make sure to maintain an impeccable say/do ratio and over communicate progress and setbacks.
GLCC is all about providing custom solutions for their clients – what’s the most out-there problem you’ve had to solve in your career and how did you approach it?
When I was with GE, the tsunami in Japan in 2011 took out our entire supply chain for IGBTs overnight (which went into everything we sold). It severely impacted all of our customers.
We spent the next several months creating a new supply chain from the ground up – with sales volumes that were at record highs. Communication was key; the first few meetings explaining the severity of the problem were not comfortable because we didn’t have all the answers yet but being upfront about the issues we were facing and continuing to communicate as the situation developed allowed us to get through it and fill every single order.
How do you give back to the community?
I’m a Big Brother to A’kim (15) – we’ve been together for almost 10 years now. It’s been a pleasure seeing him grow up into the young man he is today.
What’s something about you that people are surprised to find out?
I have cut my own hair since college.
Have you ever met a Penn State alum who isn’t head over heels for the school / the sports? Where do you fall on the scale?
I follow the football team closely but I’m not painting my face for games or anything like that, so I’d say I’m a 7 out of 10. There are a lot of folks tipping the scale, though – there’s no fan like a Penn State fan!
What do you do in your free time?
I don’t have much anymore with three little kids but when I do have time to myself it would be golf and hunting.
What show are you currently binge watching or what’s next up in the queue?
I just finished Peaky Blinders on Netflix – I’m ready for a new one now. Any suggestions?