Led joint venture that became world’s largest robotics manufacturer.
Krach is recognized as an early pioneer in the robotics industry. As a General Motors VP in the early 80s, he initiated and led the robotics joint venture between GM and Fanuc which gave rise to as the largest industrial robotics company in the world. It quickly rose to be the dominant player by leveraging GM’s sophisticated robot technology and huge captive market combined with Fanuc’s leadership position in NC controllers and its low cost, automated factories.
LEVERAGED HBS GRADUATE-LEVEL RESEARCH ON THE ROBOTICS INDUSTRY TO CONCEIVE A NEW CATEGORY FOR GM
CONVINCED GM’S BOARD OF WWII VETS TO ENTER JOINT VENTURE WITH JAPANESE FANUC ROBOTICS
LED TEAM OF YOUNG ENGINEERS TO SELL 942 ROBOTS IN A SINGLE YEAR–DROVE GE, IBM AND WESTINGHOUSE OUT OF THE MARKET
BECAME GM’S YOUNGEST-EVER VP AT 26 YEARS OLD
JUMP IN WATER OVER YOUR HEAD
When Krach graduated from Harvard Business School, he presented his research on robotics to GM’s board of directors and suggested the auto giant enter a joint venture with Japanese robotics company Fujitsu FANUC. An incredibly bold leap for a 20-something aspiring leader.
THINK BEYOND YOUR PRECONCEPTIONS
When Krach presented his robotics ideas to GM’s board, he suggested that the company needed to do a joint venture to get access to a full product line. The board asked Keith’s recommendation on what company to partner with. He recommended Fujitsu FANUC. Most of these board members were WWII veterans who were taken aback at partnering with a Japanese company, but Krach’s recommendation held, and the company has grown to become the world’s largest supplier of industrial robots.
GIVE YOUNG PEOPLE RESPONSIBILITY
Krach credits his early mentor and manager at GMF Robotics with an amazing willingness to take him under his wing and trust him with a tremendous amount of responsibility. “One of my first bosses at GM and one of my greatest mentors, Phil Monnin, taught me that too many young people, with their intelligence, energy and enthusiasm, get stuck in menial jobs, ‘learning the ropes,’ when instead, they should be challenged to jump in with both feet, get a taste of real responsibility and start taking on big challenges.” It was Phil’s faith in Keith that gave General Motors the courage to make him their youngest-ever vice president.
TO FIND OUT WHAT’S GOING ON, GO WHERE THE ACTION IS
As a college student, Krach had an internship as a production foreman at one of GM’s oldest and biggest auto plants in the world, the Cadillac Assembly plant on Clark Street. He saw dozens of cars coming off the line for repairs due to poor quality. His boss showed Keith how the story changed each time it moved up a level in the organization. “We have a serious problem!” gradually morphed into “We have no competition!” when the story made it to the board level. An important lesson: if you want to know what’s really going on, go to the shop floor, where the action is.
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