Experience Speaks: Chaim Gofen

President of CLP Industries Ltd.

Best advice he ever got | To always win

Worst advice he ever got | To wait for better days

How did you get into the converting business? I served in the Israel Defense Forces for 30 years as a jet pilot and commander, rising to the rank of Brigadier General. When I retired, I looked at my options for a second career. The packaging industry has been an excellent way for me to use the management skills I developed in the air force and my education in economics and political science.

Do you have a personal motto? Only challenges that are hard to achieve make me get up in the morning and continue to do my job.

How would you describe your management style? Targeting management goals in all of our fields of activity, with an emphasis on giving managers responsibility to achieve those targets. I also maintain an emphasis on R&D in order to stay in front of the industry technologywise.

What do you enjoy most about your job? When we close a deal with a new customer.

What is the key to growing a business in a bad economy? Developing new products with high added value and continuously pursuing our advantages versus the competition.

What is the biggest threat to the converting industry right now? Oil prices and their influence on raw material prices. It is difficult for customers to keep up with rising prices.

Are there any management or business books that have influenced you? There's an expression, “From all my mentors I have become wiser.” Every successful manager in leading companies around the world is a tutor for me. The book Built To Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras was one of the most important ones I read.

What is the biggest mistake you made in business and how did you fix it? Early on we did not enter production partnerships in the US and Russia, the two most important markets for CLP. We have remedied that in Russia, and we are working hard to create a venture with the right partner in the US. I am confident that we will have production capacity in the US very soon.

What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started out? That in any global market in which you want to succeed, you must have production capabilities close to the market in order to strengthen customers' trust.

How do you handle a difficult customer? I will join my managers in dealing directly with the challenge — some customers appreciate the managing director's personal involvement. It takes empathy and patience, as well as decisiveness.

What advice would you give someone just starting out in this business? It is like a long-distance run. You need vision, decisiveness in execution of the strategic plan, to consult a lot but then decide and head forward. You also needs lots of patience.

About CLP Industries Ltd.

Headquarters in Kibbutz Negba, Israel

www.clp-packaging.com

Founded 1972; 310 employees

Specialization | Flex-pack; multilayer laminates; and standup, retort, shaped, and spouted pouches

What management books have influence you? Share your perspective. Write to yolanda.simonsis@penton.com.


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