We, the Nano News editors (NN), sat down with Asher Levy (AL), our Active Chairman, for a casual conversation to discuss his role in the day-to-day management of Landa Digital Printing.
NN: Given a long and distinguished career at Orbotech what were your reasons for joining LDP?
AL: Well, I was heavily influenced by my first meeting with Benny Landa in 2019. Benny visited us at Orbotech and gave a brief presentation about Landa Digital Printing (LDP) - I was simply fascinated by what he shared. We then kept in contact and later in the year, Benny invited me to join the company as Active Chairman.
Why did I join LDP? Well, firstly because of Benny himself. Secondly, I did some research of my own and looked at the company, the technology, the addressable market size and then the wider industry. At that point, I realized that the opportunity for Nanography® could be huge, and indeed, all the signs suggest this to be true.
In business, not many people can say that they were a part of a revolution, a seismic change within an industry. Of course, I wanted to be a part of it.
NN: But what is the role of an Active Chairman?
AL: Good question. In its broadest terms it is to complement, support and to be a true partner to the CEO.
In the day to day, that means that I have an active role in business development planning, as well as helping to define all strategic initiatives as to long-term product and growth strategies. What’s more, it also means preparing the company for its next key initiatives – whether that be in ensuring the business has adequate resources or hiring senior personnel.
In addition, and together with the CEO and its founder, my role is also to underpin the company’s values and its culture.
NN: Not long after you joined (late January) the world was hit by COVID-19 - how did that impact your first few months?
AL: Well, COVID-19 has had a huge and profound impact on the whole world, so it naturally dominated my time, especially as I was also acting as the interim CEO. The pandemic’s impact was felt in every area of the business, with many questions for us to answer. Such as, how do we now communicate with customers? How do we demonstrate our presses? What happens now that drupa 2020 has been postponed? And critically, how do we continue to support customers in the field?
And in answering those questions, I have to say that I was impressed by the LDP management team. They reacted quickly, indeed faster than any other business I know, making swift changes to limit any long-term financial impact.
In addition, our wider team also worked very quickly and smartly to address the other key challenges we faced. For example, since we cannot send experienced engineers from Israel into the field, we had to find other ways to empower our local engineers so that they can support our customers and keep them operational.
So, in hindsight, the pandemic definitely fast-tracked my on-boarding process. And while COVID-19 continues to be a challenge, I can’t think of one situation where the team wasn’t able to find a solution.
NN: What are your initial key observations about the business?
AL: Wow, there are many. If I start with culture, some companies make you feel like everyone is replaceable, but this isn’t Benny’s way. LDP is all about its people and this makes you feel very comfortable and welcome from day one.
But I guess that my other lasting impression has been one of opportunity. We’ve clearly got a superior solution that addresses important market needs and trends, presenting a huge opportunity for us and for our customers.
Of course, we’re currently in the implementation phase which brings other challenges. But, I now know that these are all within our control as I can see that we have the talent and professionalism within our team to successfully conclude this stage - even within a pandemic. Now, it’s all about execution.
NN: LDP recently announced that Arik Gordon had been appointed as CEO, also from Orbotech, what can you tell us about him and his suitability for the role?
AL: Actually, hiring a new CEO was one of my first tasks and Arik was my first choice for the role. I feel very lucky to have secured him.
Arik has a strong technology background with loads of relevant experience, but he also brings with him a unique combination of attributes. Importantly, he’s a nice and genuine guy, but he’s also a great leader with a solid approach to people. He brings the most out of them. What’s more, and from our previous life at Orbotech, I can tell you that he’s also great at business strategy - he’s not afraid to challenge and he’s also able to think differently. A great fit for Landa.
NN: So, what are your main objectives for the next 12 months?
AL: In the immediate future, and like most companies, it is to be ready for when the market re-opens.
Of course, there are still some great unknowns, especially with regards to the COVID-19 challenge and its potential impact on the world economy and our customer’s businesses. But I have to say that from conversations with our customers, who are positive about the future, I’m very optimistic.
So, to support them and to keep them running when the world starts to unlock, we will further strengthen our consumables model, which will undoubtedly see increased demand. We will also continue to build a challenging yet reliable and achievable business plan for 2021.
NN: Lastly, can you give us a flavor as to Asher the man? What one word best describes you?
AL: Optimistic. But, if I can use more than one - I’m also a people person and very competitive.
NN: What are your favorite things to do outside of work?
AL: Mainly, spending time with my family as well as watching and doing sports. We are a big sports family. We’ve travelled to the USA several times to watch NBA games. For the last 40 years, I have also been a regular runner. I find that running gives me great peace of mind, focus and sharpness.
NN: What’s your guilty pleasure?
AL: Haagen Dazs ice cream, often eaten at midnight. Thank God I run, right?
NN: What other business leaders do you look up to?
AL: Carlos Ghosn - he came from Renault after they acquired Nissan and led the complete ‘Renault-Nissan Alliance’ transformation. I also respect Lou Gerstner, the CEO of IBM from 1993 to 2002. Lou was responsible for moving IBM from a hardware company to a service business – in both cases, incredible vision and leadership. I learnt from them the importance of planning and executing on your plans!
What’s been your greatest achievement to date?
Being fortunate to choose and enjoy what I do, while being surrounded by amazing and talented people.