For more than eight decades, Link Engineering has specialised in the design and manufacturing of precision test equipment, providing comprehensive testing for transportation, and industrial and civil engineers. As the company has grown from its humble beginnings in the American state of Michigan so has the scope of its applications, today serving commercial cars, motorcycles, trucks, buses and aircraft.
With a focus on brake testing and dynamometer wheel testing, Link’s work has played a vital role in the vehicle manufacturing and innovation industry worldwide. It’s that legacy and breadth of duties that attracted John Mack to the company.
He joined Link in 2015 as Managing Director for the Asia region, after holding management positions at GM, BMW, Fiat Group and Util. Having been with the business for more than three years now, John says he was drawn to the opportunity to steward success for such an important company in a diverse and prosperous region.
“I remember finding the nature of Link to be remarkably interesting. It’s one of only two companies in the world that can still perform scientific testing of brakes for cars, trains and aeroplanes and that was completely new to me.”
John admits that the scope of the job seemed daunting but adds that it was also the reason he wanted to work with Link in the first place.
“I knew that it was a fast-moving company, so when I got the opportunity to work here, I jumped at it. The extent of the business was new to me, however I was quite experienced, having managed CIE and Util, and I looked forward to the challenge. Every time you change jobs or roles, you get that chance to re-establish your value and that was important to me when I joined Link.”
John emphasises the value of challenging opportunities, saying they’re indicative of a company that is serious about its place in the market.
“Unless your company is growing at a fast rate, it’s incredibly difficult to gain new experiences and come across challenges the same way you would if you changed jobs. I can tell in a matter of seconds whether a company is fast or slow, and if your business is slow, it’s probably tangled in excessive bureaucracy and pointless rules. When I come to work, I don’t want that. I want to be free to do my job and act on my ideas. Success comes from keeping ahead of the rest of the business world and that’s why I seek out challenges.”
It’s that fast growth and constant pursuit of challenges that defines Link and its approach to Asia–Pacific.
“Staying ahead of the market is what makes our business one of a kind,” says John. “The expansion of our capabilities in China is only the beginning, because we will continue to improve what we can offer customers with the latest in testing capabilities. It’s so important to us because if we want to maintain any type of leadership position in the industry, we need to be ahead of everyone else.”
He believes this is key to the company’s growth agenda. “The world is changing and nobody is going to wait for us in the past”.
True to form, John is preparing to increase Link’s presence in the Asia–Pacific region. With a second facility now opened in China, John says the company is looking to expand further into Japan and India.
He singles out India as a market with immense potential for Link and says it will be integral to a successful expansion throughout Asia–Pacific in the next 12 to 24 months.
“Our journey through the region in the previous decade has been full of excitement and challenges and through our experience and dedication, we have created some of the best testing labs here in terms of equipment, testing and support. Our customers’ requirements are at the forefront of the development process. We deliver the highest standard and innovative testing solutions. Through that commitment, we have managed to stay ahead of changing industry demands.”
“Our customers’ requirements are at the forefront of the development process. we deliver the highest standard and innovative testing solutions.”
Of course, expanding outside of Asia will require some shift in strategy. In China, for example, John admits that commercial vehicle travel is relatively easy, while in Japan the market is mature and the opportunities to introduce small commercial vehicle testing is just not there.
Although John believes that recruiting workers with local knowledge should help overcome issues like that, he’s confident about addressing those problems when they arise.
“Challenges in the external sense are always fleeting. Truthfully, there’s nothing that is going to stop the Asia region from growing in the immediate future. In terms of what we can do here at Link, we can look internally and recognise where there is space for the business to grow and sustain momentum.”
John is aware of what he needs to do, rattling off a list of areas that demand not only his focus but the time and effort of everyone in the business.
“We need top talent because without the right people, this business cannot grow. We must achieve operational efficiency because it drives down costs and embeds a cost-sensitive mindset in our workforce. We need the right clients so we can embrace an entrepreneurial attitude. We need confident decision-making. We need successful leaders, which ultimately means we cannot be afraid to grow by embracing risk.”
“We need successful leaders, which ultimately means we cannot be afraid to grow by embracing risk.”
John says he has plans to employ teams across projects so he can ensure that the business is meeting clients’ needs in a bid “to be outstanding”.
On top of further investments in lab testing, he adds that the company must prioritise complete vehicle testing because “people drive vehicles all day and all night, irrespective of the country they live in”.
He considers these policies to be indispensable to Link’s ongoing growth and outstanding service, saying that “it’s our responsibility to align resources properly so we are always reviewing what we do as a business and are meeting our clients’ needs”.
That last point is important to John because when it comes to what sets Link apart from its competitors, he says survival is a direct result of designing and developing what customers need. “Our specialty is producing customer solutions and knowing that every customer is different because every car is different."
“Our competition normally offers off-the-shelf equipment. That’s it. The difference is we offer service. That means we don’t just sell equipment but we look after our customers and make sure that our equipment performs perfectly.”
It’s an approach to business that John has championed for years, and that has proven successful during his directorship of Link Engineering.