Led by his entrepreneurial spirit, Len Anderson left his position with Nortel over six years ago and decided to start a business working out of his home with just a credit card. Over time, the business grew “from a two-man operation to where it is today with over 80 employees” with two operation plants in Ottawa and Dallas. In 2016, Anderson acquired Terra Nova Eng with the goal of increasing business traction into the military and aerospace sectors.
Today, as the CEO of Renaissance Repair and Supply and Terra Nova Eng, Anderson leads a team that works on repair engineering and automation.
Due to his entrepreneurial skill and success that he has reaped over the years, Vanguard recognizes him as a Game Changer within the industry.
Here is the full interview with Len Anderson, CEO of Renaissance Repair and Supply and Terra Nova Eng.
What is your role in your organization today?
As CEO, I work closely with the Executive Team in providing strong leadership to the company overall. I am responsible for ensuring that all parts of the organization are working together towards customer aligned objectives and for the health and success of the business.
What was your worst moment?
My worst memory was in 2010. We had just expanded operations when our lead customer placed all business on hold. I can remember sitting at the table in my office with my finance leader at the time, having the discussion with questions like “Am I going to lose my house?”, “Am I going to lose my car? “, “What will the bank take?”. Three days later, we received our first very large order from a new significant customer, which pulled us back into business.
What was your aha moment or epiphany that you think will resonate most with our reader, tell us that story?
The recognition that most of our customers are stuck driving further ROI on the infrastructure they own. Our repair and overhaul services, although they are performed on legacy equipment, can be engineered to be innovative and automated; driving a robust assured quality product into the future.
Step back and analyze your journey, what is the takeaway you want to give to our audience?
Often our customers are stuck with a legacy system and when they approach someone to help they have been told `sorry it`s too old`. Even on older product solutions, there is usually a way forward to modernize and with the right level of focus, it can be accomplished. If engines and fuselage are the heart and body of the deployed equipment, electronics are the brain…we are brain surgeons.
What is the one thing that has you most fired up today?
Starting a business, you are the CEO because you had the idea, not because you had any qualifying skillset. The way I look at is running a business is like solving a Rubix cube – finance is one side, operations is another side, customers on another, quality on another side…etc. But, they are all jumbled together. Throughout the journey as a leader of my company along with the leadership team, we have solved the majority of the cube. We’ve managed a four times growth in 2017 and now are expanding into a North American Solution, with a U.S Factory opening later this year.
What is the best advice you received?
Don`t worry about the colour of your socks when your hair is on fire.
What is a habit that contributes to your success?
If I had to look back over the years, one thing that`s always helped make it happen was building customer relationships based on mutual business success and understanding the customer`s customer.
What people or organizations do you believe best embody the innovation mindset?
I would say my uncle Clayton Anderson, the smartest man I know. I have never seen him fail at any challenge. It doesn’t matter if it’s electrical, mechanical, or industrial, whether it is building a wind generation system or a sawmill, by joining two opposing chainsaws, or working with limited to no materials and tools. I have never seen him fail. He really made an impact on me.
How is your organization changing the game within your industry sector?
By focusing on repair engineering and automation, we are able to revive a repair supply chain with a guaranteed quality of service.
What are some of the biggest impediments to innovation in your organization or industry sector?
Resistance to change. In many cases, customers have become convinced that the only way forward is to completely change out everything that could be otherwise functional because they have been repeatedly told that there is no solution for the equipment that they currently own.
What are the biggest impediments to innovation in today’s enterprise?
Not building what the customer needs because they don`t realize that they need it.
How has innovation become engrained in your organization’s culture and how is it being optimized?
Within our industry, innovation is our culture. We are an intersection between new technology solutions and old technology equipment. We continue to win customer favour and grow because we focus on enabling current day test methods and standards on legacy equipment.
What technologies, business models, and trends will drive the biggest changes in your industry over the next two years?
Repair and Test Automation.
What is your parting piece of advice?
Things are always designed and built the way they are for a reason. Take an extra five minutes and understand why they operate the way they do.