Flemming Bjoernslev, new CEO and president of Lanxess
North America, believes people are the future of the global chemical manufacturer.
Going forward his top priorities are talent and programs that will promote employee retention as well as safety, innovation and company technology, he told the audience at the recent breakfast briefing of the Pittsburgh Technology Council at the River’s Club.
Bjoernslev moved to Pittsburgh last fall, replacing former president Randy Dearth. The first few months were spent touring the company’s 14 locations in the U.S. and Canada.
“Visiting the sites really allowed me to take the pulse of the organization and determine the best path going forward,” Bjoernslev said.
Born and raised in Copenhagen, Denmark, (his father ran a division of Bayer AG), Bjoernslev, 46, started with Bayer in Germany, and spent time in a division in Buenos Aires, Argentina, before moving on to Slovakia in Eastern Europe and, finally, the U.S.
“I was lucky to step into a great organization with a solid reputation,” he said. "What I like about Pittsburgh is it’s not as big and congested as other cities on the East Coast. It’s not so small, either, with cultural offerings, museums and the arts.”
As head of the North America region, he will oversee 1,500 employees in the U.S. and Canada. The Lanxess portfolio includes 3000 products—coatings, plastics and chemicals—and is one of the largest producers of high-performing rubbers in the world.
In fact, Lanxess pigments were used to color the pathways that wind through Point State Park. In the last 18 months, the company acquired three new facilities including the Neville Island plant and two in Greensboro, N.C., and Little Rock, Ark. Another plant is being built in Gastonia, N.C.
In the last eight years, Lanxess has tripled revenues despite the down market, he told the audience. The firm employs 17,000 worldwide; 2012 global sales were $12 billion, $2.6 billion dollars in North America.
The company is moving into a new era of growth. A new global headquarters is underway, which will move the company from Leverkusen to Cologne, Germany, a major stepping stone toward future expansion, he said.
Bjoernslev spoke at length about the company’s “robust curriculum” that will promote employee excellence, safety and mobility and is aimed at reducing incidents on the job to zero. The natural gas industry locally will also be a large driver in company growth going forward.
"Having hardworking, talented people that get things done is what drives business," Bjoernslev said.
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Flemming Bjoernslev, Lanxess