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Banking on KC – Matthew Perry of Genesys Systems Integrator

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Kelly Scanlon:

Welcome to Banking on KC. I'm your host Kelly Scanlon. With us on this episode is Matthew Perry, the Co-founder, President and CEO of Genesys Systems Integrator and that's a company that enhances life experiences by designing automated production systems and machinery, including some that may not even exist yet. Welcome, Matthew.

Matthew Perry:

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Kelly Scanlon:

I just gave a bare-bones introduction there to what Genesys does. So when you say that you're a systems integrator, what does that mean? And specific to Genesys.

Matthew Perry:

We essentially take people, processes and products, and we bring them together to help our clients create a product that ultimately enhances the way we live on the planet, such as automobiles or something like insulation that you would use to keep warm in the winter, cool in the summer.

Kelly Scanlon:

You're not actually making the insulation itself. You are creating a process that allows it to be made easier for your manufacturer clients to be able to produce it more easily, more safely, more efficiently. Is that correct?

Matthew Perry:

That is correct. We basically work with our clients and take a look at their products or their processes, and we just help them mass-produce products more efficiently, more safely and ultimately create more value for the clients.

Kelly Scanlon:

You're one of five co-creators. I find that pretty fascinating in and of itself that five people are starting a company and that they can all get on the same page together. So tell us about that background, the inspiration behind the founding of the company.

Matthew Perry:

We worked for a company, a local company here in Kansas City, that unfortunately went out of business and there was a group of us that found ourselves jobless, but we really enjoyed the industry and we were good at what we did. And kind of out of [desperacy 00:01:55] we decided that we should get together and create something for ourselves. And literally the next day, we got together with a few individuals that we admired that we thought would be a good group to move forward and the next day there was Genesys.

Kelly Scanlon:

You do come from an entrepreneurial family background and in particular, in the automotive industry where assembly lines and just having that production in order is very important.

Matthew Perry:

Absolutely. My mother was in the industry, grandfathers, uncles, and really a lot of the inspiration we grew up in Michigan and grew around the automotive industry, and it was just fascinating as a young man. Trucks and cars like any young boy, they like that kind of thing. We were inspired to do something more and to help the auto industry move forward.

Kelly Scanlon:

Your core business is re-engineering auto assembly lines, but the demand has become even greater to reimagine those assembly lines as electric vehicles become more popular. And I find that interesting that one innovation is driving innovation in other areas. So what is the role of Genesys in this re-imagined assembly line?

Matthew Perry:

Ultimately, our role is to help. It's to help our clients produce their products better, faster, safer at a greater value. So that comes in many forms. Sometimes we have to make use of existing equipment or technology and introduce new technology at the same time. It's moving fast. Our clients have really gone all-in on the new technology and the electric vehicle, and it's just created so many different avenues for Genesys to help them get these vehicles on the market and produce them efficiently.

Kelly Scanlon:

So is the reason that you're having to reimagine the way they're manufactured because the demand is causing them to have to ramp up their production, so they need a faster assembly process? Or is it because they're just made differently, and so therefore the assembly line has to be set up differently?

Matthew Perry:

Yeah, it's a combination of both. In some cases, the assembly is much simpler. There are less parts, but it's also a very different way of assembling. And the other is yes, there's a huge demand and there's a huge push across the industry with all the manufacturers to get their electric vehicles to market. So it's really a combination of both that creates a lot of challenges for us to work through.

Kelly Scanlon:

Another area where Genesys is driving change is in the recycling arena. I know that you deal with coated wire and carpet and other hard to recycle items. Tell us about your efforts there.

Matthew Perry:

Today we're focusing on three different areas. One, copper we've found and developed technology through one of our other companies, ECE, Energy Creates Energy. So we utilize the resources and our capabilities here at Genesys to help manufacture products for ECE. And what they do, we focus on the auto industry, which is kind of coincidental because on one side we're creating more new vehicles, but on the other side of the business, we're helping recycle those vehicles when they're finished with their life cycle.

Matthew Perry:

So the recycling industry, we think is a great avenue. It's not ending and there are lots of problems there that we can help solve. So we've moved in on grabbing the copper out of recycled automobiles, anything from wiring harnesses to scrap televisions. There are just so many different things that we've zoomed in on there. The other is the hemp industry. We found and created technology to process hemp to make all different sorts of products from CBD oils, to concrete binder insulation. The list goes on and on in that industry. And then the third vertical was plastics. We're working on ways to recycle plastic and solve a lot of the problems that we have.

Kelly Scanlon:

I think the hemp industry innovations are incredibly interesting, especially the way it's being used in construction. I was reading not long ago about some efforts going on in New York state, where they are using hemp as a construction material. And I thought, really, you can do that?

Matthew Perry:

Absolutely. It's a wonderful product and that industry has really taken off. It's growing leaps and bounds, and we have some really interesting technology that'll help create those new products.

Kelly Scanlon:

I want to talk about the word innovation for a minute in your process. I mean, it gets tossed around really freely and I don't think people always stop and think about what it means. So in your case, when a client or a potential client, comes to you and they're seeking a solution to some challenge that they're having, how do you approach it?

Matthew Perry:

I think the most important thing that we have to be really good at is not trying to solve the problem too quickly. The key for us is to be able to listen and almost put ourselves on our customer's side of the table and to truly understand what their issues are, or what their challenges, or what their goals are. And oftentimes in the industry, we get a little over-focused on just trying to sell your product. And sometimes that stifles or limits our ability to create something new or different because we have things on the shelf that we have to sell. So oftentimes they don't serve their clients as well.

Matthew Perry:

So Genesys doesn't carry a product line. Although we design and manufacture and install capital equipment all over the world, you can't get online and just buy a widget or a product from us. So we're truly all ingenuity and we will search the world over. If it's already made or it already exists, we will try and utilize that if that's the best application for our client.

Matthew Perry:

But as far as innovation, really, we have to inspire innovation and what we've seen in a lot of organizations, they put too much effort into punishment for mistakes. So I think it's really critical here as a company when you get paid to innovate and to create and to solve problems, that you have an environment where people are comfortable making mistakes. If we come down too hard on people for making mistakes, that tends to stifle innovation and people tend to pull back, not be as creative, not try new things because they're more worried about keeping their job or staying out of trouble than trying to solve the problem and trying new things.

Matthew Perry:

So the key to getting more innovation is to promote it and to promote making mistakes. It's okay to make mistakes because that's how we learn. That's how we adapt and that's how new better ideas come to fruition.

Kelly Scanlon:

So you are making a lot of things that don't exist. And many of the innovations that you've come up with, are kind of one of a kind in that sense. In that regard then, how do you recruit and hire for that?

Matthew Perry:

Really we focus on our core values first. The one is teamwork. So we try to focus and look for ways to find out if individuals are good team players or if they're more solo players. The other is integrity. Because in order to build a strong team you have to have integrity within your team as well.

Matthew Perry:

And then probably the most important one that is mostly associated with innovation is the idea of constantly improving. We have to constantly try to be better at what we do every day. Just a little bit better each day. And we focus on learning about individuals' failures. When people have a lot of failures, oftentimes they can learn a lot. So we pay really close attention to when you fail, what did you learn and how did you get better? If we see somebody that embraces that and they can identify their lessons, they're probably a good candidate because we can learn and grow and come up with new ideas together.

Kelly Scanlon:

What other kinds of things have you done that allow you to retain your team?

Matthew Perry:

I think it's a lot of the little wins. It's the little celebrations, it's the extra things you do for individuals to show them that they're valued, that they're cared for. That they're part of the team. We really do need all walks of life to get done what we've done. And so we go out of our way, just the little things, a little chili cook-off, we've done paintball parties, we have done marathons. There's just a variety of things but what we try to do is find ways to bring people together in a positive light and not necessarily all about business and work.

Matthew Perry:

Because once you can establish a relationship or accomplish some goals outside of work with individuals, you develop a little bit more of a bond and when things do get challenging or things get difficult, it's nice to have people that you care about that you value around you to get through some of these challenges. And at the end of the day, our customers pay us to solve some of their biggest manufacturing challenges. So we have to be good at it. We have to be good at working together, communicating together, and celebrating each other. And we just constantly focus on that.

Kelly Scanlon:

Yeah. And I think that's a lesson that all business owners sometimes have to stop and remind themselves to do is to celebrate those successes. I know that you've been recognized as one of the best places to work in Kansas City. So kudos to you for that too. What are some of your favorite, maybe most interesting projects that Genesys has handled?

Matthew Perry:

The electric vehicle market has just been extremely exciting. I would say Tesla was one of our most exciting, I guess the gold star on the refrigerator. When they first launched their first vehicle Genesys was very involved and had the lion's share of their trim and chassis. So we felt a sense of pride in helping such a strong company grow and be involved in the early phases of that. And it's been fascinating to watch them grow and we continue to do business with them in both their factories in California and Texas.

Matthew Perry:

The other would be Ford Motor Company. We've done a lot of exciting things with them from the electric Mustang over in Mexico. And currently today we have crews in the plant right here in Kansas City at the Ford Assembly Plant where we are helping them launch the new electric Ford F-150 pickup, which is really exciting and getting a lot of attention in the market.

Kelly Scanlon:

Do you think that eventually, we will graduate to an all-electric mode of transportation? Do you see that day coming?

Matthew Perry:

I do. I think it is coming and there's no turning back, but I also see there will be a need for both the gas vehicle as well as electric and maybe even hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Kelly Scanlon:

And what role do you think Kansas City's going to play in this? I mean, with you located here and you mentioned the Ford plant, do you see Kansas City being a real center of this innovation when it comes to electric vehicles?

Matthew Perry:

In some ways, yes. There are some critical suppliers here in Kansas City for the auto industry. This has always been a bit of a hub for the auto industry.

Kelly Scanlon:

You helped so many other companies solve their challenges. What has been Genesys' biggest obstacle as you've grown the company and how have you managed it?

Matthew Perry:

Our biggest obstacle lately has been our products and our products are our people. The challenge has been as we grow, and we've had exceptional growth the last few years, the challenge is as we grow, how do we continue to deliver the same level of service, the same quality of service and attention to our clients that we have up to this point? And to handle that growth, and onboard people, and get them the proper training, and indoctrinated into the Genesys way is a challenge, especially when you're growing fast and you have lots of clients that need your attention.

Matthew Perry:

So that's been one challenge and the other challenge is just solving the problems for the clients. Oftentimes we come with good ideas and good estimations on what it'll take to solve a problem and by the time we're finished, it looks completely different than what we originally started. So that can be challenging to manage at times.

Kelly Scanlon:

What do you think the future holds for Genesys?

Matthew Perry:

The future is super bright. The electric vehicle market has just been a blessing for the auto industry. There's an abundance of opportunities and I see that happening for quite a few more years. The building products industry that we play very heavily in is also booming. So we see lots of opportunities there. And most importantly, probably the most exciting thing is the recycling industry. That's not going away and the more products that are manufactured out there, the more opportunity there are to put those things back into the life cycle.

Kelly Scanlon:

At the end of the day, what fulfills you about the work that you do?

Matthew Perry:

I think the people that I get to work with every day. We have just some extremely intelligent people. We work with all walks of life, from painters to millwrights, operators, ironworkers, engineers, CEOs. It's fascinating because we get to work with all these people and we get to do some pretty exciting things. So for me, it's a very tough industry. They expect blood, sweat, and tears from us every day. And if we can build a team with people that you love and respect and enjoy being around both inside and outside of work and make money doing it, there's just not much more you can ask for.

Kelly Scanlon:

Well, Matthew, it sounds like you have a winning formula there. It sounds like you're enjoying what you do and that you're making a big difference in the automotive and recycling industries. Thank you so much for what you do and for being on this episode of Banking on KC.

Matthew Perry:

Thanks for having me.

Joe Close:

This is Joe Close, President of Country Club Bank. Thank you to Matthew Perry for being our guest on this episode of Banking on KC. Kansas City is home to a growing number of creatives, innovators and change-makers who are impacting the world. The team of engineers, project managers and other innovators at Genesys is one example. Matt's team, and by extension Kansas City, is shaping the next generation of major industries like automotive, construction, and recycling. The creative ideas and processes Genesys develops, enable their clients to manufacture products that enhance the way we live on our planet. Country Club Bank is proud to help fuel the work of Genesys and we're interested in talking with more of Kansas City's innovators. Give us a call to discuss your new ideas. Together we can make a difference. Thanks for tuning in this week. We're banking on you, Kansas City. Country Club Bank, member FDIC.

 

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