Lessons from A Swedish Trip

10 February, 2020

Bob Gross, Gross Automation & IBAW President

Most people who know me know that I do what I love and I love what I do.

One of the most fulfilling activities that I enjoy as the CEO/Visionary of Gross Automation is the international travel component of business development. We turn energy into productivity – globally!

The Gross Automation engineering team and I have just returned from a productive business trip to Västerås, Sweden. This area is just over an hour and a half west of Stockholm and is the home for two of our best, world-class suppliers, ABB and Westermo. While there, we toured multiple ABB facilities, a startup incubator and then attended the Westermo Sales Conference.

Here are (5) important business questions that we answered on this trip:

 1: Are we playing to Win?

Playing to win! This was the theme of the every other year sales conference hosted by Westermo, our supplier of robust industrial data communications. Over 30 countries were represented and over 150 partners attended. The music was about winning. The sessions were about winning. The speakers all talked about winning. We were NOT there to participate. We were there to win! Did you bring your “A” game to work today?

2: Do we know our Target Market?

This is the most focused we have ever seen any of our suppliers. They selected three highly specialized vertical markets and have put all available resources into defining, getting certified for, and growing that business. All of these markets, are highly specific, have their own set of certifications and have specifications unique to that segment. And, through repetition, over and over again, Westermo kept putting this focus in front of us. Had there been a test at the end of the conference, there would have been a 100% correct response on their target markets by all attendees. Of course, we also were told that we still have to sell into all the appropriate markets, but now there is a focus.

3: Do we have a Deadline?

How better to make sure that everything is done and in place but to throw an international sales meeting? Deadlines make things happen. By having a deadline, new literature was developed. There were new application examples and fully working demos of new designs. Although they missed some of the factory machine updates, they too will be finished in really short order. Everything was clean, neat and organized. They really put their best foot forward.

4: Can we go Green?

In Scouting, we believe not just in “Leave No Trace,” but also in taking it to the next level by leaving a place in better shape than in which we found it. Westermo’s president told us the story that she has two daughters who asked her how having a conference and bringing in 150 people was environmentally friendly. As a result, locally raised and sourced foods were featured as part of the conference. They also bought an offset in a wind turbine to negate the carbon footprint of our meeting.
Our hotel and conference center was held in an old recycled steam generation building in an older part of town that was seeing solid revitalization and rehabilitation.

5: Did we have Fun?

Two of Gross Automation’s company points of culture is to work hard and to keep our sense of humor. In other words, work hard – play hard. Evenings during the conference included a pony cart race after a lake boat tour, a non-traditional farm tour featuring native locally sourced food, and ending with a formal dinner and entertainment by a live band. Our Swedish/American partner also took us to his cabin on a set of dams and locks for a quiet afternoon of eating, fishing and just hanging out. Finally found a food I don’t like! Ask me about fermented herring!

Play to win, know your market, have a deadline, go green and have some fun while you’re at it.

Fantastic Business advice.


Wow, I love what I do and I do what I love!