Interview with Jeffrey R Lass, Chief Financial Officer, Wayne Fueling Systems
Jeffrey R Lass is Chief Financial Officer of Wayne Fueling Systems (“Wayne”). During his 20 year career, Jeff has held a progression of roles focused in the technology, manufacturing and energy industries and has developed broad functional experience in the areas of corporate finance, strategic planning and operations management. Prior to joining Wayne in 2008, he served as Vice President & CFO for Compass Learning. Previously, he was Vice President, CFO and Corporate Secretary for Pavilion Technologies (acquired by Rockwell Automation) and held various management roles with Trilogy, Applied Materials and Price Waterhouse. Here he talks to Finance Monthly about Wayne’s history and looking forward into 2016
What were some of Wayne Fueling Systems’ major achievements in 2015?
Wayne acquired the Simmons Sirvey and Vianet Fuel Management Solutions (FMS) businesses in 2015 which will broaden our portfolio to provide FMS to our customers. We also successfully launched our Wayne iX Pay™ T5 and T7 secure payment terminals which will allow fuel retailing customers to update their legacy dispenser equipment to meet EMV requirements globally.
Wayne is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year – how will you commemorate this?
As an industry leader, Wayne we will be hosting our first Wayne Technology Summit in Austin, Texas in April. Wayne will celebrate with special anniversary themed customer events at the Uniti Expo conference and tradeshow Stuttgart, Germany in June and at the National Association of Convenience Stores conference and tradeshow in Atlanta, Georgia in October. Additionally, we will hold an anniversary event in each of our four regions, Malmo, Sweden; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Shanghai, China and Austin, Texas; where our 1,400 employees can join in celebrating our milestone.
What was Wayne’s beginnings and how did it develop into the company that it is today?
Wayne has been shaping the retail and fleet fueling industry since we designed our first pump in 1891. We were known as the Wayne Oil Tank Company back then and were based in Fort Wayne, Indiana. From the very beginning we were developing a reputation for quality. Once the motor vehicle entered the scene, our purpose and mission was solidified – to create a reliable, accurate way for motorists to refuel cars.
After the introduction of our first gasoline pump in 1907, the company grew quickly over the following years. As the company grew in product development and innovation, Wayne also grew in size and global scope. We began expanding with the opening of our Canada office in 1919 and opened locations in England, Brazil, Australia, South Africa, Germany, Italy, Sweden, and China between then and 2004.
Throughout the years, Wayne also acquired and partnered with several successful companies to bring our customers more integrated, ground-breaking solutions. After a merger with Dresser Industries in 1968, we were poised to meet the massive market need for fuel dispensers in response to the advent of lead-free gasoline. Shortly after, we opened our Austin, Texas location, where we continue our deeply-rooted legacy through a commitment to ongoing industry leadership and innovation.
Wanye has recently acquired both Simmons Sirvey and Vianet Fuel Solutions. How will these acquisitions allow the company to expand going forward?
Wayne provides leading dispenser products and technologies to the fuel retail industry. Both Vianet and Simmons Sirvey provide Fuel Management Solutions (FMS) to customers in this industry; a natural fit for the Wayne business. The ability to include FMS in our portfolio will now allow us to offer more solutions to our customers such as time monitoring systems, data management services, and more. This further strengthens our commitment to one of our core values: Technology Leadership.
Wayne has weathered many financial cycles over the years. Do you have any specific business plan for difficult economic times? Do you think we are finally leaving the recession?
There is no playbook for challenging business conditions. Many of the contributing factors are outside the control of the business. It really is up to the leadership team to build an operation and culture that is adaptable, agile and resilient. It’s about executing business fundamentals: stay close to the customer; take care of your people; manage the balance sheet and allocate resources effectively; be visible transparent, and decisive. I think it’s fair to say that the pace of change has increased a great deal and that this dynamic places a lot of pressure on businesses to endure and proper. But this environment creates opportunity as well and if we’re running a solid business, we’ll be better positioned to take advantage. It’s difficult to say what will happen in 2016. I tend to be optimistic at this time of year because I see the opportunities ahead.
What is EMV compliancy and why is it so important? Can you explain to us your iX Pay™ and what this enables?
EMV is the global standard created by EuroPay, MasterCard, and Visa to securely authenticate credit and debit card transactions; it helps reduce counterfeit payment card fraud. The Wayne iX Pay™ T5 an T7 secure payment terminals are a one-size-fits-all retrofit kit which enables legacy fuel dispensers in the field, regardless of original equipment manufacturer, to be EMV-compliant using the highest security standards and latest technologies. The terminals also integrate seamlessly with the Wayne Fusion™ 6000 forecourt controller connecting to the Wayne NAMOS™ point-of-sale (POS) system.
How dramatically do oil prices affect your business? Did the recent Paris Climate Summit affect figures at all?
We have a very diverse customer base which includes our channel partners, independent retail site operators, high volume retailers and large oil companies. This diversity protects us from overexposure to commodity prices. While a low oil price may have an impact on the capital budgets of the major oils, it also results in higher fuel margins at the retail level which is a boost in our industry. We certainly pay attention to developments in the alternative fuels area and Wayne has a complete range of products to address these needs.
How important is it for you to have continuous help available to customers via your helpdesk 24/7? Do customers find it more and more necessary to have 24/7 care?
We live in a 24/7 world and customers are placing increasing value on the entire customer experience. This means we need to be there to support the customer and deliver a great experience throughout the lifecycle of the relationship. Advances in technology drive a higher expectation from the customer but can also help us deliver a richer experience.
Looking into 2016, what do you anticipate for the company?
This is going to be a big year for Wayne as we proudly celebrate our 125th anniversary. That spirit of customer-focused innovation is what continues to drive us today. Over the past few years, we have completely overhauled our product and technology portfolio. In 2016, we will continue that investment in technology to deliver new products and services to meet customer requirements with new automation, mobile payment, fuel management and cloud solutions.
In the next year, we expect automation and payment solutions to be major industry drivers. With additional functionality, the Fusion site automation server will be able to optimize any forecourt equipment from payment and media to POS and wet-stock management with additional in-depth data analysis on business performance. With the introduction of the new Wayne iX Pay™ T5 and T7 secure payment terminals, Wayne is best positioned to deliver secure outdoor payment solutions while allowing retailers a low-cost investment to meet regulatory requirements.