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The Hoggett Bowers 2 Minute Interview: Lindsley Ruth

Lindsley Ruth CEO interview
Lindsley Ruth, CEO, Electrocomponents

Lindsley Ruth is Chief Executive Officer of Electrocomponents. Prior to Electrocomponents, Lindsley was Executive Vice President of the Future Electronics Group of companies, the fourth largest electronics distributor in the world. Before joining Future in 2002, Lindsley held senior positions with TTI Inc and Solectron Corporation. Lindsley has both a BSc in Engineering (Industrial Distribution) and a Masters in Business Administration from Texas A&M University. He is a Non-Executive Board member of the Ashtead Group Plc.

What challenge did you tackle and overcome in your business this week?

Last week included board meetings for both Electrocomponents and Ashtead Group Plc, where I am a Non-Executive Director. We also conducted a virtual investor road show for the first time, including meetings with 30 investors. The business is moving from ‘crisis mode’ to ‘business as usual’, since one can only operate in a ‘crisis mode’ for a certain period of time. We are now adapting to the new normal, having modelled out every single scenario, ‘The U-Curve’, ‘The V-Curve’ and ‘The W-Curve’. Our approach is to see opportunities versus challenges.

Which ongoing business challenge is occupying your thoughts this week/month? 

Mental health is of a great importance to everybody in my business. It is very easy to fall into the ‘Groundhog Day’ scenario, where every day repeats the previous one. We are encouraging our employees to take time off to enjoy exercise or improve their gardening skills. We make sure people take holidays and our Chairman, Peter Johnson, checks on me, and my CFO to take ours.

Best thing about working from home/remotely?

Lack of travel. The lockdown allowed me to spend more time with my family including my son and wife in person, and my daughter and parents online. (Lindsley has been working from Texas since the lockdown).

Worst thing about working from home/remotely?

I do need a haircut. My wife initially offered to cut my hair, but I did not want it. Now I do want it, but the offer was withdrawn.

What is the most significant change to the way you work as a consequence of the lockdown?

Historically, I was always opposed to working from home, relaxed dress code and dress down Fridays. However, I found working from home to be more casual, but also more productive and efficient. People tend to be more relaxed, which allows for a better dialogue. We can do more coaching and developing people and generally achieve more.

For example, a traditional investor road show has us travelling from city to city with a series of meetings with half hour breaks between them. Virtual road shows are a completely different story, with more time for more informal and more involved discussion. Perhaps in the future we will supplement travelling road shows with virtual ones.

What change are you most likely to keep and what will you definitely not continue, post lockdown?

There will be more remote and video working in the future, including transacting with customers. I am incredibly proud of all that we’ve achieved through this pandemic and the pace at which we put in place measures to keep our people safe, mobilised home working for the vast majority of our office-based roles globally, whilst maintaining great customer service.  We remain very much open for business. I envisage we will also reconfigure our offices to have more smaller locations with flexible workspaces.

Who or what has inspired you this week? (They don’t need to be famous)

I started to read again as a result of the lockdown. I am reading Jack Reacher books by Lee Child. It allows me to drift away and take a break from business.

Best programme/film you watched on TV/streaming this week?

I am out of programmes to watch now, having seen ‘Strange’, ‘Jack Ryder’, ‘Unorthodox’ and ‘The Making of Unorthodox’ documentary, over the lockdown. So, these days I watch the Hallmark and the Food Network Channels. ‘The Promise’ with Christian Bale was very good.

Are you doing more or less exercise than a typical week when you commute and if more, what?

Less. We have 2-hour yoga sessions every day and I also bought a bike, but it is too hot to cycle or play golf with 35-37oC outside. As a result, I had gained some Covid weight, but have also lost some of the gained weight as well.

What are you consuming more of (that you should not be) now you are not in an office environment?

More ice cream, I normally do not eat desserts at all.

Any words of wisdom?

It is very important to step back and appreciate those around us more. Sometimes we get too wrapped up in the day to day life, so do take time to say “Thank you” or to write a note.