David Withers, President & CEO of Jacobsen, is leaving the Company on 1st January 2017. Here he shares a few thoughts with GBN readers.
Why are you leaving?
I think you probably know my history that I joined Jacobsen in the UK in 1992 as a Regional Sales manager, and then had a variety of increasingly senior roles within the organization; became Managing Director of Ransomes Jacobsen (the Ipswich UK based subsidiary of Jacobsen) in 2004, a role I held until the move to the President’s job in Charlotte in 2011. Then, as you know, earlier this year Textron announced the merger of Jacobsen with Textron Specialized Vehicles. This included moving all activities out of Charlotte and into Augusta.
As such my role would have moved to Augusta and I decided that this was not something that I wanted to do and felt that the timing was right for us to start looking at moving back to the UK. I also think that the merger of the 2 brands will work better if it is truly integrated and I think that integration will be easier and more complete without there being an incumbent President of Jacobsen in the mix.
What are you planning to do next?
As regards the future as yet I have no plans, it has been a busy time planning the integration and all my thoughts and energy have been on working to ensure a smooth transition where our customers are only impacted positively. Once I actually leave Jacobsen at the end of the year I will start to look at what opportunities there are and decide what we want to do next. I am hopeful that I can stay in this industry as I have so many friends and relationships that it would seem sad not to continue to build them in the future albeit with another company.
How do you think Jacobsen will fare in its new home as part of Textron Specialized Vehicles?
Thinking about the future of Jacobsen in its new home I think there will be opportunities to build on what we have achieved these last years and also to leverage the 2 brands together to win more business. What I mean by that is there will be the ability to leverage the EZGO and Jacobsen brands into the customer base. If a golf course or group are purchasing a lot of Jacobsen equipment but also a golf buggy fleet competitive to EZGO, then maybe in the future it will make sense to buy it all from one company and get additional advantages due to the increased volume of business going to one vendor.
In addition the product lineup has truly been refreshed these last few years and the new products are well set to continue to win more business in the future, I think as well the product plan that is already in place will continue to deliver great “customer delighting” platforms over the next 5 years.
What are you proud of over the last 24 years?
The philosophy that I bought to the role was based on what we referred to as the 3B’s:
- Building Relationships with our customers is the most important thing we can do.
- We must Build a great machine that makes our customers lives easier.
- Backing our products up for the whole life of the machine is key to our customer’s success.
I think that If Jacobsen stays true to these tenets then the company will only continue to grow and succeed as it has these last years and I wish the company and all its wonderful employees and customers every success for the future.
I have loved my 24 years with Jacobsen it has all been an amazing experience and such a privilege to lead this iconic company for the last 5 or so years, so whilst sad to be leaving I am also excited to see what the next chapter in my career may bring.
I am on vacation from 16th December to 1st January after which time I will no longer be working for Jacobsen (Textron). Please contact Rachel Thompson firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance. If you are trying to reach me personally please look up my LinkedIn account
Read more GBN Interviews