In an interview with Nick Pinchuk, you will start with JFK, meander through Ralph Waldo Emerson and the New Testament, meet Mother Teresa along the way and find out only at the end that he helped send the Viking probe to Mars. And let’s not forget another achievement: he delivered his own child in the backseat of the family car.
The Snap-on chairman and CEO, an executive committee member and stalwart supporter of the NAM, sat down for a very wide-ranging interview with NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons at the NAM’s recent board meeting, at which he received the Manufacturing Icon Award. Here are some of the highlights.
Starting with Kennedy: When asked how he got into manufacturing, Pinchuk cites Kennedy’s 1961 speech promising that the U.S. would put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Pinchuk was one of the “millions of young people” who pursued STEM careers because Kennedy inspired them, he said.
- He then found himself shipped to Vietnam after a stint in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. His experience in the army later helped launch him into management at Ford, when the company was looking for someone who could “run something 24 hours a day”—just as he had in Vietnam.
- He “parlayed” that experience into a business degree, then rose fast in two other organizations—United Technologies and Carrier. His experience in Vietnam helped a second time, leading Carrier to choose him to run its Asia operations.
- Finally, Snap-on came calling, looking for someone with international experience. “On a day in which the board of directors likely had too much wine,” Pinchuk joked, “they decided to give me the CEO job.”
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