H. Gunther Hoyt spearheaded the globalization of screw and barrel maker Xaloy Inc. — and the overall plastics industry, too.
In a 35-year career, Hoyt has played an active role with the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. He helped create the SPI Components Division and chaired two NPE trade shows. Using his international expertise, Hoyt played a behind-the-scenes role in helping SPI lure back Japanese injection press manufacturers to exhibit at the last NPE, in the recession-racked 2009.
Now at NPE2012, Hoyt will enter the Plastics Hall Fame. The induction dinner April 1 in Orlando was a black-tie event — giving Hoyt a chance to sport the same neckware as anybody else. Usually, his distinctive bow tie sets him apart.
Hoyt said his father and grandfather liked bow ties. “I always wear a bow tie. That's all I ever wear,” Hoyt said with his customary hearty guffaw.
Today the 64-year-old Hoyt runs an international consulting firm, Gunther Hoyt Associates, in Salem, Va.
Hoyt, a native of Germany, was 11 years old when he came to the United States in 1959 with his mother, who married an old family friend, a lawyer.
He grew up in Newburgh, N.Y. He earned an undergraduate degree from Rutgers University in German studies, with a minor in architecture.
Hoyt's language skills and understanding of Germany helped him land a job at Xaloy in 1977, when he was at Rutgers. Xaloy was in New Brunswick, N.J.
“I responded to an ad in the German department that was placed by the president of Xaloy looking for assistance with translation,” he said.
They needed him. Hoyt recalls that Xaloy had a business in Belgium that abruptly closed down. “The customers were left hanging, just literally high and dry. When I got there, there were desk drawers full of quotes,” he said. “It was a nightmare.”
He worked at Xaloy for 31 years, ending up as executive vice president in charge of global marketing.
In 1980, Xaloy promoted Hoyt to export manager. He took on marketing in 1981, then became vice president of sales in 1984.
Hoyt helped Xaloy undergo a major transformation. When he joined, nearly all the company's screw and barrel business went to domestic manufacturers of new machines. “We lived off big American machine builders. There was almost no direct sales and spare parts to the end user, the processor,” he said.
It was mass production. But in the mid-1980s, Xaloy created direct sales to processors and began to work on customized screws for specific processing applications.
Hoyt thinks that saved Xaloy — today the largest screw and barrel maker, by far — as many American machinery makers fell under the onslaught of equipment from Japan and Europe.
“This was a very big thing. We were always walking the tightrope between the OEM and the end customer, but a lot of the OEMs disappeared,” Hoyt said. “We were actually doing something we had to do to survive. As the players shrank we had to change our strategy.”
Walter Cox, Xaloy's former longtime president, nominated Hoyt for the Plastics Hall of Fame. And Hoyt is one of two Xaloy veterans going into the hall at NPE2012 — so is screw designer Tim Womer.
Hoyt led Xaloy's push internationally, setting up distribution networks and direct sales operations in Europe, Japan, China and other Asian countries. Xaloy set up a plant in Thailand in 1999, which Hoyt said “was a great success from day one.”
Japanese injection press makers were coming on strong, so Xaloy focused on that country. “Japan was a very hard place to do business in the ‘80s, but the strategy in Japan was to keep at it, to always go back, to always signal that we weren't leaving. We were very, very pugnacious and we didn't give up,” he said.
It took about 10 years for Xaloy to crack the Japanese market, and Hoyt learned a lesson about corporate culture in different countries. “You don't walk into Japan, get off the plane and say ‘hi guys, where's the order?' “ he said. “The Japanese expect to get to know you and they take a long time to trust you. But if you get their business, they are very loyal.”
In 2004, Hoyt joined a 10-member management team that bought Xaloy from its Swiss parent, with backing from Baird Capital Partners. When Baird sold Xaloy to Industrial Growth Partners in 2008, Hoyt and several other senior executives left the company.
Hoyt started his international consulting firm. Gunther Hoyt Associates links up U.S. companies with partners around the world.
His global connections came in handy at NPE2009.
Just three years ago, the economy was in the grips of the Great Recession. That posed some big challenges to NPE, which was then held at Chicago's McCormick Place. Then early in the year, Nissei Plastic Industrial Co. Ltd., JSW Plastic Machinery Inc. and Netstal-Maschinen AG announced they were pulling out. Other companies reportedly were considering withdrawing.
SPI President and CEO Bill Carteaux and other SPI leaders traveled to Japan and Europe to talk directly with machinery executives. Hoyt, who had visited Japan dozens of times, organized the trip.
“If the Japanese had walked, the Germans would walk. There would be no NPE. It was a crisis,” Hoyt said. “We had to stop the hemorrhage.”
SPI initiated an “economic stimulus” package of financial incentives to lower costs for exhibiting. Nissei and JSW returned to NPE2009. Netstal stayed out, as did several auxiliary equipment makers. KraussMaffei AG, which at first was on the fence, went.
What a difference three years make. Now manufacturing is booming. It's leading the U.S. economic recovery. The role of U.S. manufacturing has become a key part of the U.S. presidential election.
Hoyt said it's a great time for an NPE.
“People didn't know it at the time, but June of 2009 was probably the valley of the plastics industry,” Hoyt said. “And 2012, if you can find someone who's not doing well, call me. I think everyone at this NPE is happy. Everybody is doing well.”