Scott Schwindaman, President & CEO of Lubrication Engineers, Inc. is the 2017 Chairman of the Board for the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce. He’s been involved in the Chamber ever since Gary Mason with iSi Environmental recommended that it would be the perfect place for him to channel his passion for improving the business climate in Wichita.
Shortly after becoming involved in the Chamber, Schwindaman participated in the Chamber’s annual Washington, DC Fly-in. His visit with the Kansas delegation and his conversations with Chamber leadership solidified his interest in contributing his talents and energy to Chamber programs and initiatives.
He’s serving as the Chamber’s Chairman of the Board during the organization’s centennial year and recently took the time to share his thoughts on the company he leads, what he likes about doing business in Wichita, and the Chamber’s 2017 strategic priorities.
What products and services does Lubrication Engineers provide?
We’re a high-performance lubricant manufacturer and service company, operating in 74 countries around the world. We help businesses improve their bottom lines by improving their uptime and efficiencies from an operational standpoint.
Where do you see Lubrication Engineers in five years?
We’ll continue to offer our customers high value products and services. And we’ll be growing at a rapid pace through new international and domestic joint ventures and some acquisitions.
What are you most passionate about when it comes to your company?
I am highly committed to growing our company and taking care of our employees. I also enjoy this industry because of the things I get to see and experience. One day I could be standing on a NASA launch pad, and the next day I could be eating ice cream at the Häagen-Dazs factory. We supply lubricants to a vast array of companies and industries.
Describe your business’ most recent success.
We’ve undertaken a joint international venture with Kyodo Yushi USA to create a new company, Kyodo Yushi Manufacturing Americas, LLC. The new company will be located in the Wichita region and we anticipate that they’ll create five permanent jobs and up to 30 contract jobs.
To what do you attribute your growth and success?
Our success is 100% due to our commitment to customer service and satisfaction. Our ability to give our customers what they need, when they need it, is our highest priority.
What’s the best thing about doing business in the Wichita area?
It’s very easy to do business here. Many deals are still done on a handshake and a relationship. You don’t find that on the coasts.
When did you get started in the business world?
My first job was with Southwest Grease and Oil when I was 16 years old. At that time they had three plants and one of them was located where the Hyatt now stands. I started with Lubrication Engineers when I was in college as a lab tech. So I grew up in the business.
Thoughts on the Chamber
What one word best describes the Chamber?
Dynamic. I see a lot of things happenings in our community right now, and I feel that some of that positive movement can be attributed to the Chamber. One example is the work of the Leadership Council’s Entrepreneurship Task Force that was launched at the Chamber. There’s an excitement in the city that I haven’t sensed for a long time, and it’s because leaders are coming together to do things that benefit the community as a whole, and not just for their own financial gain. We’re united in expanding the opportunities for entrepreneurs and growing businesses.
Through my work as the co-chair of the Entrepreneurial Task Force, I’ve seen Startup Grind Wichita, e2e, 1 Million Cups ICT, the Chamber, Startup Wichita, MakeICT, GroundWork, SCORE, WSU MakerSpace, the Wichita office of the Small Business Administration, and so many others working in concert to connect entrepreneurs to the resources and expertise they need. And the visibility of the organizations supporting young entrepreneurs like DECA, Youth Entrepreneurs, Junior Achievement, and SocialPreneur has also increased dramatically.
How does this Chamber compare to other Chambers?
I travel around the U.S. quite a bit so I get to see how Chambers operate in other communities. We have a very strong Chamber and we should be proud of that. We’re looking forward to increasing our membership levels this year.
What is your favorite Chamber event, program, or service and why?
I always look forward to the Annual Meeting. This Chamber does a tremendous job of selecting and bringing high caliber speakers to Wichita. That’s not common in other communities. I really liked the new format we used in 2016. Moving from a formal sit-down dinner to an informal networking event generated a lot of positive feedback from our members.
What do you find most valuable about your Chamber membership?
One of the many lessons I learned from my father was that everyone has a civic duty to give back to their community. So for us, giving back to the community where our business is located and where our employees live is a priority. Being a member of the Chamber is one way to accomplish that.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how strongly would you recommend Chamber membership to a colleague?
9 – The benefits are so huge for both small and large businesses. From political advocacy, to education, to networking and leads generation – the benefits far outweigh the cost of a membership.
What do you consider Wichita’s biggest challenge that the Chamber can influence?Diversity and inclusion. The Chamber Board and staff have four strategic priorities in 2017, but our ongoing work in attracting and retaining our region’s workforce will be much more focused on diversity and inclusion. A workforce that’s engaged, innovative and productive is vital. But intent doesn’t always equal impact. Leadership is key to making it happen. Every single business and organization needs to step up and become involved. During our February 7 Chairman’s Lunch we’ll be providing our members with some specific tactics they can use to work on this issue. Working on this issue together strengthens our community as a whole and makes our region a much more attractive place to grow companies, careers and communities.
What is something people may not know about you?
My family is one of the major Clydesdale horse breeders in the U.S. Our operation has 30 horses. We’re unique because we raise and work with black Clydesdales, which are a rare color for that breed. We travel around the country showing and selling them and participating in events. All three of my children are involved in the operation and we’ve really enjoyed becoming part of an international network that’s allowed us to meet so many interesting people and even some celebrities. What I originally thought would be a six-month stint as a short-term hobby for my children when they were youngsters has turned into a lifelong interest and commitment that involves our entire family.
How do your colleagues describe you?
I’ve been called the “niche master” because I love the challenge of finding solutions to problems other people describe as unsolvable. Saying something is impossible to fix always motivates me to tackle it. Whether it’s researching horse pedigrees for breeding programs or finding solutions for my customers, I really enjoy engineering a solution.
I’m a Weather Channel junkie, so I’m always checking my app to see what the weather is like, both in Wichita and other places I visit.
Favorite business book?
Good to Great by Jim Collins
Bite Me BBQ (located at 132 N. St Francis)