Andrew Hecker, CEO Concept Machine

Andrew Hecker, CEO Concept Machine

Andrew Hecker, CEO of Concept Machine, has a sterling reputation for his energy, intelligence and strong moral compass. During his career he has made significant contributions to four industrial manufacturing companies – increasing both the top and bottom line in each leadership role. Andrew is truly a global executive, having lived and worked in France, the United Kingdom and Switzerland while making significant contributions in China, Japan and the Emirates – he is now a proud Minnesotan. His track record of success and active community involvement with his membership on the Board of Trustees at Dunwoody College, the Board of Directors at ABV Technology, and in the Boy Scouts made Scouts Talent curious to learn more…

If you could try a different job for a day, what would you choose?

I’d replace Tim Cook as CEO of Apple. A self-confessed Apple fan, I love the technology and user experience that Apple delivers. I recognize that standardizing platforms in an enterprise is a need (hello, Microsoft), but Apple’s tools do have a place. I’m personally more productive using the Mac and iOS together. As CEO for a day, I’d give a nudge or two to make Shortcuts automation and other third-party automation apps even better. I would also continue to improve the Photos app so I can more easily find and share photos of my family.

What advice would you give someone starting out in your industry?

Become a subject matter expert, then broaden your view to understand connections between functions. Learning doesn’t stop when you leave high school, technical school, or university. Whether learning how to machine parts, program robots, use an X-ray / CT scanner, print high quality additive manufacturing parts, become highly effective at sales using CRM software, or closing the books faster through process improvement, those skills make you a valuable part of the fabric of a company and build roads for you to get where you want to go.

What is your mantra?

Work hard, play hard! I’m motivated to perform well. That might come easily for some, but I’ve always found that hard work tends to create luck and success. Go figure! But all work and no play? That’s a recipe for burnout or a one-dimensional life. Given we spend about a third of our life at work, the playing also needs to happen there. Life’s too short to have a bad work environment. I also enjoy getting the most out of my free time, spending it with family and friends, volunteering, exercising and traveling.

How do you get yourself out of a slump?

Spending time reflecting and zooming out from the details of schedules and projects helps me refocus on what’s important. When I’m struggling in a particular area, I try to candidly assess what’s wrong, and address it head on. Time rarely causes issues to get better. I also find that talking through a problem with a trusted friend or advisor can help.

What companies or leaders do you admire?

I follow and admire many leaders and companies that get press in the Wall Street Journal, and I keep abreast of local, state and national politics. It’s tough to choose, but a couple come to mind: Satya Nadella has led well at Microsoft, and I admire Dr. Özlem Türeci. She’s the Chief Medical Officer of BioNTech whose research made quick development of a vaccine possible to address a public health crisis. But beyond leaders who make headlines, I have loved meeting company leaders in our great Twin Cities market and hearing their stories, especially how they have dealt with the challenges of leading their companies through the pandemic. We have a great network of companies, from Fortune 50 companies to start-ups, and so many supporting professional services.

What has been the biggest shift you’ve noticed in your industry in the last decade?

The increasing importance of applications and automation. Our customers aren’t just looking for machines that can make their parts; they need a partner that can help them apply the best technology to a specific application. Manufacturers are also looking for automated solutions to increase their capacity and allow their best people to make a broader impact. Concept takes an applications approach to solving challenges with dedicated applications engineers that work hand in hand with our sales team to deliver the best solutions. This includes automating production, whether as an integrated option to a machine, or an automated cell.

Who has been most instrumental in your career?

I’ve been fortunate to have great mentors throughout my career. The ones that stand out are those that took the time to teach new skill sets or challenge me by offering roles that really stretched me in new directions. I’ve also learned a great deal from people that reported to me. In some cases, I also worked with leaders whose style I decided not to emulate. Among others, I’m grateful for the opportunities and mentoring I received from Ed Auslander, Dan Daniel, Frank Drew, Ray Mack, Roeland Polet, Byron Pond, Jay Sanchez, and Leon Viars.

What is your go-to celebration meal, drink or tradition?

I love a well-crafted pairing of French or Italian food with wine, but I don’t have a go-to meal. As far as traditions, I love creating and maintaining family traditions. We enjoy the seasons and the holiday traditions that go with them, especially Thanksgiving. I also love seeing different groups of friends and family every year around certain weekends, whether a football game, a ski trip, or a weekend in South Dakota or Minnesota’s lake country.


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