Phoenix Contact USA's new VP looks to the future

Kevin Zak, who was recently promoted to vice president and general managers, answers 3 questions about where the company is headed

Phoenix Contact USA recently promoted Kevin Zak to the role of vice president and general manager. Zak, who will celebrate 25 years with the company later this year, will oversee the company’s U.S. sales subsidiary, including sales, marketing, channel operations, and service functions within the United States.

Zak joined Phoenix Contact in 1994 as a district application engineer, serving the Carolinas and Virginia. He held several management positions in the Phoenix Contact field sales organization. In 2007, Kevin moved to Harrisburg to become the national sales manager for Phoenix Contact’s industrial business. In 2011, he was named vice president for the Industrial Controls and Electronics Division.

Kevin Zak answered 3 questions about Phoenix Contact.

What are three key things that a machine builder, system integrator or manufacturer should know about your company?

First and foremost, Phoenix Contact takes pride in being an innovation engine, developing new products that allow our customers to address critical needs and to manufacture their end product in a more productive, efficient and seamless manner. Secondly, through our broad portfolio, we offer our customers the capability to design the majority of their control cabinet architecture around one manufacturer, while providing them the highest level of confidence in that design. Lastly, through our limited lifetime warranty, we make a promise to our customers that the Phoenix Contact products installed are built to last — forever. Whether through the authentic, trusting partnerships we create with our customers, or by making the highest quality products in the market, we stand with our customers to ensure they can deliver upon their promises.

How does the Industrial Internet of Things figure in your business strategy?

To see the potential impact of IIoT or Industry 4.0 on our industry, and how it will shape our business strategies in the future, we look no further than the effect on our manufacturing processes. As one of the most vertically integrated companies in our space, our internal digitalization efforts are a fantastic model that will allow us to take lessons learned and build them into our product and service offerings. An example of this is in the development of a digital twin for our products that creates enhanced value within the design and production chains. Another is the development of network infrastructure products that enable all relevant information, safely and securely, to be available to the user as needed. In the end, our strategy will be to deliver tried-and-tested IIoT-enabling products to the market, allowing them to succeed in their digital journeys.

How will technology change your company over the next five years?

In every facet of our lives, technology is reshaping our perspectives at an increasing rate. Often, we first look at how new thinking can be applied to our industries and then, subsequently, how we incorporate it into products and services, whether it is practical or not.

To me, just as fascinating is how technology will enable us to practice business. AI and advanced analytics will increase the speed and quality of decision-making and create a higher level of overall customer experience. Information transfer will continue to migrate toward digital channels versus traditional methods. Counter-intuitively, the integration of digital communications will strengthen the value of the personal connections we create with our coworkers and customers, as we move away from our keyboards and back to "eye-to-eye" contact and conversation. Enhanced communication tools will make video conversations commonplace, replacing the one-dimensional phone call or text.

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