Snap-on CEO Nicholas T. Pinchuk is a proud Vietnam Veteran seasoned in the boardroom, lab, and factory floor, who brings a spirit of innovation and high-tech savvy to our nation’s pre-eminent tool supplier for professionals.
A product of the ROTC program with a graduate degree in electrical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an MBA from Harvard, Pinchuk values teamwork and camaraderie. They make for superior employees, franchise operators and business partners.
“In Vietnam, you learned the lesson of being confident and collected under pressure. And what you saw more graphically than in any other situation is that in such a pressure environment, your team can get rattled, but they look to you, as their leader, for stability,” he tells Veterans Advantage in an exclusive interview. “They will take their cues from you. They will be confident or concerned, depending on how you react to the situation.”
“This is true, whether you are in a war zone, a factory or a board room,” he adds.
Pinchuk served in the Army Signal Corps in 1970 and 1971, which included a formative year in Vietnam, where he grew to value composure under pressure, while enjoying the camaraderie of his fellow soldiers. He eventually left the Army as a Captain and pursued his civilian career. The Troy, New York native received a “classical” education, participated in intercollegiate sports, and enjoyed a rich graduate school experience, which included research in the development of the Viking Probe which reached Mars in 1976.
As a son of a Veteran who saw action on the beaches of the Pacific, Pinchuk has a keen appreciation of past wars. He travelled to the site of the famous Battle of Saipan, and called his excited and emotional dad on a cell phone to share the experience.
“Those guys had tremendous courage. You look at the terrain, and say ‘they stormed this?’ It really gave you an extraordinary feeling of sacrifice that soldiers made in World War II,” Pinchuk recalls.
The experiences of Pinchuk's military service translate to his company today. Snap-on serves a number of customer segments where composure is important. The company prides itself as the premium priced leader in its field, because it has to be: Its complex array of 65,000 product SKUs is for the serious professional who performs the most essential tasks. Its signature Snap-on Flank Drive wrenching system is not for the weekend warrior, but it is necessary for professionals performing work where reliability and repeatability are paramount; Snap-on manufactures tools and other solutions for a broad spectrum of critical industries where the mission is absolutely critical. And this, of course, includes the military where Snap-on solutions range from repair systems for Army tanks, humvees and artillery maintenance sets, to maintenance sets for the Black Hawk helicopter and Navy Osprey. Adds, Pinchuk, “When lives are on the line, you can depend on Snap-on.”
The company makes a concerted effort to hire military veterans, or retain them as franchisees through its franchise discount program for veterans.
“I think Corporate America has a responsibility to help people coming out of it [the military] . . .try to get them jobs . . . look to employ them,” he says. “It’s in a corporation’s interest to recognize the special skills and personal characteristics developed in the military.”
Managers “value those who are effective in a team environment. Veterans have that character in abundance,” he adds.
Snap-on has a rich tradition in serving its markets, and is called on at times by the U.S. government to customize tools to meet certain objectives. The Corporation prides itself on cutting-edge technology, and offers innovative products ranging from laser-based tire balancers to ratchet sets, made especially for smaller hybrid vehicles.
“We make work easier for serious professionals doing critical tasks . . .like keeping cars moving, planes flying and factories running,” Pinchuk said. “We like it when technology changes; it gives us new opportunities to serve professionals.”
Pinchuk was elected Snap-on Chairman in April, 2009, and has served as President and Chief Executive Officer since December 2007. Previously, he was the Corporation’s Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President and President - Worldwide Commercial and Industrial Group. In prior positions, he was president, global refrigeration operations for Carrier Corporation, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation. Pinchuk also served in a number of executive, operational, planning and financial capacities within Carrier and United Technologies, including: president, Asia-Pacific air conditioning operations; vice president, strategic planning; and chief financial officer, Carrier International Corporation. Before joining United Technologies, he was with the Ford Motor Company, where he held various financial and engineering positions. Pinchuk serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Columbus McKinnon Corporation and of the National Association of Manufacturers.