We sat down with Mr. Alois Gruber, AGRU’s owner and chairman, to discuss AGRU’s growth in 2019, his beliefs about leadership, and plans for the future.
What does a day in the life of a global enterprise owner look like? It is important that I start every day with a walk. I walk my dog to AGRU’s office in Austria and he stays with me there. Even before opening my computer or responding to emails, I visit several of our departments, such as shipping, to receive updates and check-in with employees. Normally, the rest of my day will be filled with meetings, both internal and external, where we attempt to solve new problems, consider investments, or find opportunities to improve efficiencies.
What hobbies do you have outside of AGRU-related business? I enjoy being active. My favorite hobbies include golfing, skiing, riding a bicycle or walking my dog.
How do you stay innovative in so many growing industries? This is a good question. Every single AGRU employee matters to me, and I spend a lot of time considering the future of AGRU and its role in industry. I am always trying to keep my eyes open. It is important that AGRU sustains it’s long-term advantage, so I am constantly reading, learning and asking questions. We are fortunate to have so many opportunities available to us, and it is important that our efforts are spent on the right opportunities.
How do you define AGRU’s company culture? We are a company of innovators, problem solvers, and hard workers. AGRU is known for its quality products, and this image was not created overnight. I believe company culture begins at the top, and leadership should lead by example. This is why I continue to be involved in every aspect of our company, at every level. It is important that things are done correctly. Most importantly, we are interested in long-term partnerships, whether it is with an employee or a customer. This is a major contributor to AGRU’s success.
What AGRU products currently excite you the most? Currently, I am most excited about AGRU’s XXL Piping Systems. It is a unique product that is redefining our customer’s understanding of large diameter pipe, and opening up new applications and possibilities. With XXL Pipe, we have positively changed customer expectations of quality, and I could not be more proud of our Austrian and American employees who have dedicated themselves to such a groundbreaking effort.
What advice would you give to new employees? Do your best, frankly. We should all strive to have open communication with our colleagues, our teams and our partners. We should do our best for our customers, and provide the best service possible. All of us make a difference, and we are each responsible for each other’s success. If you are willing to commit yourself to excellence, you will be recognized at AGRU.
What AGRU achievement made you most proud in 2019? We have recently completed the largest XXL Piping System in the world. It is currently en route to the customer’s location, where we are expecting to break even more world records. I cannot say it enough: I am very proud of our employees in Charleston, South Carolina, who have committed themselves to such high standards, and completed a project that has never been done before in history.
What is AGRU’s greatest challenge in 2020? AGRU is involved in many industries, and many of them expect greater competition in coming years. We have to work smarter, develop more integrated solutions, and encourage our employees to face the challenges to come. I am positive about AGRU’s future, however. We have many excellent opportunities ahead of us.
What will AGRU look like in the next five years? In short, growth. AGRU has already established itself as a leading organization in regards to innovation and quality. Our piping and lining systems will continue to differentiate us from our competition. One thing will stay the same, however. We will continue to remain an independent, family-owned organization. I can promise that AGRU will never belong to any international group; this is the secret to our success today and in the future.