DRI Interviews Orlando Sellers, Chief Technology Officer at Hytrol

Cherie Shepard, Managing Partner of Direct Recruiters, recently had the opportunity to connect with Orlando Sellers, Chief Technology Officer at Hytrol for a series of Thought Leader Interview questions. He shared insights surrounding the material handling industry, emerging technologies, in addition to information about Hytrol and the unique services they offer. 

Please tell us about yourself and your company, Hytrol.

Hytrol is a world leader in the design and manufacturing of material handling systems for a variety of industries. In fact, we are North America’s largest conveyor manufacturer. We are a privately owned company with 1400 employees located in Jonesboro & Fort Smith, Arkansas. Our values of Faith, Family, Empathy, Commitment, Gratitude, and Community is what makes us who we are.

I am the Chief Technology Officer with accountability at Hytrol for Research and Development and core engineering product execution. Also, I am a dynamic Executive Leader with a distinguished career and demonstrated success driving multi-million-dollar growth, developing, profitability, and building or restoring market share in highly complex and competitive business climates, both domestically and internationally. Throughout my career I have demonstrated the capacity to formulate unique business solutions for large key-to-the mission initiatives and the tenacity to attract, recruit, and manage the organizations that execute them.

What led you to pursue a career in the Material Handling industry? 

My passion to provide a significant impact on the growth of companies in markets that are beginning the journey with Industry 5.0 has led me to this industry. The opportunity to leverage my cross functional experiences from disparate industries positions me well to develop innovative pioneering technology solutions that are market leading.

What have you found to be the most challenging aspect of your job?

As a transformational leader who was asked by the Board of Directors and CEO to position the company for growth, the most challenging aspect of my role is to develop pioneering products and technology for our customers. Developing value-added products and premium services as solutions to our customer needs requires an intimate knowledge of their businesses and willingness to pay for solutions that lower their owning & operating costs or drive additional revenue to their bottom line.

We know that IOT and Predictive Maintenance are having a big impact on automation. How do you see Hytrol developing these or other initiatives in the coming year?

Hytrol, like many other companies in the industry, is looking into IOT solutions for our customers. Predictive Maintenance, Predictive Analytics, and Robotics are areas that we will be investigating over the next several years.

What challenges do you expect the industry to face in the next 3 years?

We expect the industry will have slightly declining sales in 2023 that will continue until mid-2024. Afterwards, there will be a rapid 6 to 9 month recovery period leading to a growth in sales trend starting 1st quarter of 2025.

What would you consider to be the most important lesson learned in your career?

Watch as well as Pray. When coming to a new organization, spend the first 6 to 8 months learning the organization’s culture, people, and processes before making any suggestions or changes for improvement. This way you will learn who are your change agents, influencers, and targets of change. Additionally, you will also know which practices are truly the ‘best practices’ that need to remain in place. This is the ‘Watch’. Next, as you implement changes, everything will not go as planned. In fact, sometimes your organizations best initiatives will not go well at all. Use these instances as learning opportunities and seek new strategies and tactical plans to not repeat the situation. So, in these instances you need to ‘Pray’ all goes well.

Cherie Shepard is a Managing Partner and the Executive Search Director of DRI's PackagingMaterial Handling & Food Processing. With over 14 years of experience working with the leaders in the industry, Cherie works daily to expand these specialty segments by staying current with industry news and trends. In addition to phone and video conversations with the industry's thought leaders, she routinely travels to trade shows and networking opportunities to meet with these leaders.

If you would like to be featured in an upcoming edition of our exclusive Thought Leader Interview series, please reach out to Cherie Shepard at cshepard@directrecruiters.com

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