DWM blogger Mike Collins talked with fellow blogger Tyson Schwartz about Schwartz’s recent promotion to president of Soft-Lite Windows. Part I is running today; Look for Part II at the end of August.

Fellow DWM blogger Tyson Schwartz was recently named president of Soft-Lite Windows. Schwartz’s 25-year climb from the sales ranks to the senior executive level says a lot about him and about our great industry of ours.  For that reason, we reached out to Tyson to learn more about his story and the advice he has for others who want to excel in our industry.

One of Schwartz’s early mentors, industry pioneer and leader Wayne Gorell, described to me what Tyson was like early in his career. Gorell said Schwartz had all the basic building blocks needed – likeability, a good personality and a desire to learn and work hard. He read every sales training book he could find. Gorell attributes Tyson’s success as being a result of “his desire to succeed, his drive.  He wanted to win, to be the best.”  Gorell and Schwartz often referred back to the Golden Rule when making decisions and the fact that winning didn’t mean that everyone else had to lose.

Schwartz modestly attributes a portion of his success to the strong teams he’s had around him. Following the advice of baseball Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson, he tries to surround himself with smart people that are better at certain things than he is and then get out of their way.

For Schwartz, the cliché about being early to bed and early to rise is another of the keys to his success. He regularly rises at 4:30 or 5 a.m. and arrives at the plant early, allowing him to get to know the operations managers, who also keep early hours. He also learns which team members are the most passionate about the business and which can help create solutions when problems arise.

The three most common paths to the president’s chair are through serving as the head of sales, operations or finance. I asked Schwartz what he thought were the advantages of approaching the role of president with a sales background. He pointed out that the sales path allows you to know the company intimately, to develop great relationships with customers and prospects and to know every aspect of the the products you sell. Schwartz realized that he needed to increase his financial analytical skills. While working at a private-equity-backed company, Schwartz worked closely with the Harvard MBAs who prepared the firm’s financial reports. They taught him how they analyzed financials, adding a key arrow to his quiver.

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