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Aaron Jagdfeld, chairman and CEO of Waukesha-based Generac Power Systems, Inc., recently sat down with BizTimes Media associate editor Arthur Thomas for a one-on-one interview as part of the virtual 2020 Next Generation Manufacturing Summit. Among several topics discussed, Jagdfeld addressed shifts in power product demand spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as opportunities and risks from climate change. Listen to the full interview as featured on the BizTimes MKE podcast.
“Everybody has turned the home into a sanctuary and it’s really become a theme for our customers. For people who are stuck at home, a power outage is something that used to be an inconvenience. Now, it’s just an untenable situation, so the products that we sell primarily on the residential side have been very strong.”
“With unemployment going up because of the pandemic, you’d think it would be easier to find people, but what we’ve found is many of the people who are out of work right now are not in the traditional manufacturing backgrounds. … It was a challenge before the pandemic finding people. It’s a challenge today finding people.”
“There’s no way anybody could’ve seen the pandemic coming, but that’s the kind of thing you have to plan for in business: it’s the stuff you can’t control. It’s trying to be in control of your future to a point, but then when you face a situation where you can’t control the outcomes, you have to have some mitigating paths ready to go so that you can adjust on the fly.”
“The flip side of that is what causes climate change — some of the effects of the human condition and what we do. Internal combustion engines are identified as a contributing factor. … It’s one of the challenges that people in our industry have struggled with, so we’re looking at what to do about that in the future.”
“As weather conditions have become more severe across the country … warmer air temperatures, warmer water temperatures creating more energy in the atmosphere for more storms. More storms create more power outages. So, as we think about that part of our business, clearly climate change is an opportunity to sell more generators.”