Christopher J. Fussner, who grew up on Long Island, New York, is the founder and president of Trans Technology Worldwide, a leading SMT solutions provider. He is proud about the fact that his success was earned through hard work, zeal and honesty. During his childhood, he went to a Catholic school and later, to George Washington University (Washington DC). He earned an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona. To study and to earn his living, Fussner did lots of odd jobs like cutting grass, serving as a waiter, and being a bus boy; he also worked as a paper boy.
His motivation and endurance helped him found Trans Technology in 1988. In a candid interaction with Nijhum Rudra, Fussner shares his professional journey, the various obstacles he faced in his career, and his major contributions to the industry.
|A few of my favourite things Hobbies: Skiing, scuba diving,golf, and hiking in the mountains Music I like to listen to: Classicrock from the 70s, 80s and 90s
Favourite food: All kinds. I am not skinny! I love Thai, Chinese, Indian, etc
The kind of books I read: Anything on action, about international relations and on espionage
My favourite singer: MickJagger! (Rock on!)
Initially, I was not very interested in this particular business or industry, but my friend’s brother, Hamed El-Abd, motivated me to get involved. So, I started learning about the electronics industry in Southern California. After I started working there, I was assigned to work in Korea and Singapore. The first couple of my professional years were very challenging, but I worked hard day and night to get a deep understanding about the electronics industry. Then, when fortune slowly favoured me, I started Trans Technology in 1988 with an initial investment of US$ 50,000. Slowly, my business started making profits and success followed with the increase in demand for electronic items all around the world in the late 1980s.
India also witnessed economic growth in the early 90s. That’s the time when the demand for electronics started gaining traction and hence, I commenced my India operations in 2001.
My role in Trans Technology and the challenges I faced
Being the president, founder and owner of Trans Technology, I always try to ensure that my employees are happy and that their demands are fulfilled along with those of the customers. We maintain both an amicable and professional atmosphere in the organisation. I motivate my employees to work hard and achieve success along with listening to their pain points. The biggest challenge I faced in my career was founding a startup with very little capital. You can understand that the lack of sufficient cash hampered the smooth running of the company.
In those days, getting loans and subsidies wasn’t as simple as it is today. The first few years were very tiresome; I didn’t draw a salary and would go to the office by public bus. But I was very fortunate to have parents who backed me during this crisis by giving me a loan of US$ 20,000. I was also very lucky that the Yamaha and Heller agencies stood by me during that time and with their strong support, our sales grew in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and then in India.
The turning point and my major contribution
The biggest turning point in my career was back in 1991 when we started making a lot of money. After the hard work and the years of running a cash-starved operation, it was a wonderful feeling for my employees and me. Through this business, we have contributed tremendously to the electronics industry.
Right now, I am very happy to employ 225 people in over 14 countries, offering them good jobs. I like to hire people who love to work, and have an ambition to achieve some goal through their work. Constant dedication and love for your profession is
extremely crucial to achieve success. I always keep my clients happy with state-of-art services. You have to listen to all the challenges your clients face, in detail. Think them over and only then can you provide a great solution. In every one of our offices, we have a poster that says: “Rule No. 1. If we don’t take care of the customer, somebody else will.”
Management style and success mantra
I always believe in maintaining an amicable relationship with my clients even if the contract is over for some particular reason, since you never know when you will work with them again.
Also, you have to constantly keep thinking about best-selling processes, and always stay calm and focused. A ‘never give up’ attitude is mandatory for every professional. I follow a ‘hands-on and hands-off’ management style. I am involved in the day-to-day operations, but I let my managers run things. You do not need to interfere in every operation. If you do, you tend to lose faith and trust in your colleagues or employees. This mantra and management style helped Trans Tech to achieve a worldwide sales figure of US$ 110 million last year.
Last, I do not believe in following any role model. You just chalk out your detailed plan and then follow it with loyalty, persistence and knowledge.
The future of SMT products looks very promising because as said earlier, the demand for electronic products is growing all over the world. More and more manufacturers are coming to India to begin production here. We are also opening our new demo centre and showroom in Bengaluru this year, which will help us to demonstrate, train and evaluate. We will continue to grow organically.