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Emerging leaders spotlight: Scott Chehak

Meet Scott Chehak of Arrowhead Systems, Inc.

Scott Chehak, Arrowhead Systems, Inc.
Scott Chehak, Arrowhead Systems, Inc.

PP-OEM is pleased to introduce a section spotlighting emerging leaders among packaging and processing OEMs. Some have already made their mark in the industry, while others are just embarking on their careers. You may not recognize their names today, but in the coming years, they will be at the forefront of the industry’s growth and advancement. Our inaugural focus will be on Scott Chehak, Arrowhead Systems, Inc., Randolph, Wis.

PP-OEM: What first attracted you to the packaging/processing automation industry?

Chehak: I’ve always had a passion for continuous improvement. I enjoy discovering solutions that make the job easier, more efficient, and lower cost. Early in my career, I was challenged to keep my job by finding creative ways to increase my team’s productivity and then sharing our best practices. This exercise pushed me to learn how to operate the machinery and technologies so that I could teach my team the most efficient methods. I also used the opportunity to build relationships with our suppliers to ensure that we were getting the best return from our resources.

For example, we incorporated Priority One palletizers into our production line as a way to introduce automation into the process, lower labor costs, and ultimately increase our product margins. Now that I work for the company that builds Priority One palletizers, things have come full circle. I get to be the guy selling and making those solutions.

PP-OEM: Do you count anyone as a mentor?

Chehak: I always come back to the leaders at the Birds Eye Plant. They were my first true mentors in the industry. Among those who inspired me the most was the plant manager, who truly believed in working hard and never letting anyone count you out. He said that if you believe in something, fight for it. Go to battle for your people and let them drive that result and success. This plant manager fought against a shrinking organizational structure. He stood up for our plant saying that we could conquer anything. He was able to get unconventional lines added in times of downsizing, and took on new challenges to stay viable. He believed in us, worked as hard we did, and gave us the training and tools to be successful.

Another important mentor was my direct supervisor, the plant superintendent. He could see my passion, willingness to learn, and eagerness to succeed. He taught me that a person may not have all the skill sets. But if they have the passion to learn, they can be taught anything. He gave me the latitude to learn more, tackle additional schooling, and get involved in capital projects, operator education, and budgeting. He empowered me to create success and drive my department and teams.  

PP-OEM: What types of trends or opportunities do you see affecting the industry?

Chehak: The increasing demands for conventional case palletizing and robotics is a major one. To counter rising employee costs such as labor, benefits, and healthcare, businesses are working to reduce head counts.  

PP-OEM: What are the industry’s biggest challenges?

Chehak: Some of the biggest challenges we see are the saturation of suppliers that have tried to enter the market. There are many players in the game offering cheap solutions, but at the end of the day, those solutions are costing companies more due to lack of proper scope, support, and reliability. The industry can lose credibility if too many poor performers crash into our market.

There is also the global marketplace. Intrusion into domestic markets from international suppliers forces the domestic industry providers to become leaner in practices, and keep costs competitive to meet the market pricing.  

PP-OEM: What resources do you use to keep abreast of trends in packaging/processing automation industry? Why are they helpful?

Chehak: I use PMMI weekly e-mails and follow various LinkedIn industry and consumer groups such as FoodBev Network and The Canmaker magazine.

PP-OEM: Any advice for young folks entering the industry?

Chehak: Stay focused and follow your passion. To be an effective leader, you have to believe in what you want or do. Don’t be afraid to push beyond your boundaries and ask for guidance or help. Everyone is willing to help, if you just ask.

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