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Casting a new die at RotoMetrics

By Nick Coombes | July 29, 2014

CEO Robert Spiller opens up about challenges, tooling trends and opportunities for growth.

Robert Spiller, CEO of RotoMetrics, the Eureka, MO-based manufacturer of rotary and flexible dies and tooling, recently spoke with Nick Coombes about his role at the company, and how he sees RotoMetrics adapting to the packaging market's changing demands for tooling.

Nick Coombes: I’d like to begin with a bit of background so that our readers get to know a little about the person behind the name.  What did you study at university and what led you into the career path you have followed?

Robert Spiller: I have an Engineering Undergraduate Degree and a Masters Degree in Business and Economics. I was first exposed to the label industry in 1985 when I joined Avery Dennison. Having an office several doors down the hall from Stan Avery probably helped inspire my career in the tag and label industry – for sure, it definitely didn’t hurt it!

NC: Although you’ve stayed largely in the package print industry, I believe you’ve held a variety of jobs in different locations.

RS: Yes, that’s right. I discovered early in my career that what I really enjoyed doing was building businesses. Avery gave me the opportunity to do this in both the US and Europe, where I spent eight years living and working in Belgium and the Netherlands.  After leaving Avery, I ran a business in the US for the German media giant, Bertelsmann AG, and then a folding carton business for Graphic Packaging. Immediately prior to joining RotoMetrics, I also ran a small high security printing company.

NC: What attracted you to the new job?

RS: Going back to my years at Avery, I remembered buying a large volume of cutting tools from RotoMetrics, so I was well aware of the company’s iconic reputation and brand. Knowing this history, and having been one of RotoMetrics’ customers, I thought the job would be a great opportunity. 

NC: What do you see as the greatest challenge in your position as CEO, and how are you going to deal with it?

RS: My greatest challenge in running any of the businesses with which I’ve been involved has always been making sure that we have the right organizational structure, the correct roles, and the right people in those roles. At RotoMetrics, we created a regional profit and loss structure introducing several new general manager and managing director roles. This required finding the right people from inside and outside the company. We did this several years ago, and are now seeing the benefits with improved quality and service.

NC: How would you assess RotoMetrics as a company today?

RS:  Well, we have over 1000 employees globally, and ship more than 1200 dies every 24 hours to customer locations around the world. We operate 11 manufacturing facilities on four continents, and aim to help our customers win business by combining the highest level of quality products with top-notch service, reliability and speed.

NC: What are the main drivers in today’s market for tooling, and how is RotoMetrics responding to the constant changes in demand?

RS: The cutting tool, or whatever product it is, has to work properly as soon as it arrives, and it has to arrive fast. This means we must be able to offer localized service to meet the high level of delivery promises we make. In many instances, the cutting tool is the "gating item" to a customer’s production processes. RotoMetrics operates an integrated business that provides us with the opportunity to shift production between different locations to optimize order servicing. This flexible manufacturing facility is invaluable to our customers, because they know we can always respond to their requests.

NC: Where do you see the main growth opportunities for RotoMetrics in the years ahead?

RS: In general, consumer demand towards product customization supports more volume growth for cutting tools, as each unique product item requires it own unique label shape and die. In Asia, given the current relatively low penetration of label materials, coupled with growing populations, we are looking at double-digit growth rates.

NC: Do you have any plans to substantially grow or change RotoMetrics?

RS: Yes, I do. We are intending to expand our manufacturing footprint into the developing markets including Asia, South America and Africa. I can’t give you any details at this stage, but we will make an announcement as soon as our plans are finalized.

NC: Can I ask you to look into the future and tell me how you’d like your tenure as CEO to be seen by the industry?

RS: I’m very much a people-person, and have had the good fortune of being associated with a growing industry over the years, so I should like to be seen as a leader who helped create jobs that are more fulfilling and inspiring for RotoMetrics’ and other companies’ employees around the world.

NC: It sounds as though you’re in for an exciting ride in the years to come…

RS: Yes, I hope so, because I love a challenge, and running a global brand leader successfully is both satisfying and rewarding!

Bob Spiller (right) at RotoMetrics’ recent Open House, with Steve Lee, who recently retired as VP of technology.

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