On the Job with Saft's Fred Hapiak – Manufacturing Appreciation Week

Meghan Duke

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Georgia’s 20th annual Manufacturing Appreciation Week is April 14 – 18. Developed by the Technical College System of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Economic Development to recognize nearly 9500 manufacturing facilities located in Georgia providing jobs for approximately 350,000 Georgians.

Manufacturers in Valdosta and Lowndes County play a key role in promoting and ensuring a brighter and stronger future for our community. Valdosta-Lowndes County’s manufacturers provide opportunities through educational partnerships, company-sponsored community involvement efforts, volunteer programs and civic engagement. Manufacturing is vital to Valdosta-Lowndes County and has been the primary source of economic growth in Georgia.

Name: Fred Hapiak

Age: 49

Position: General Manager

Family: Married, 2 kids: a son (17) and a daughter (19)

Education: Master’s in Management from ESCP Europe

Saft, an international company headquartered in France, has been in Valdosta for more than 40 years, manufacturing batteries used in all types of commercial applications, from helicopters to monorails.

Q: What was your first job?

A: Marketing Manager for Saft joint venture in Japan

Q: What was the first thing you spend money on when you received your first paycheck?

A: A small TV

Q: What led you to your current position?

A: Management expertise learned through a long career in the Saft Group

Q: Best thing about your job?

A: Working with a great team.

Q: What is the one trait a strong business leader cannot afford to be without?

A: Confidence and especially confidence in his people and in the future.

Q: What is the biggest lesson you as a business leader learned from the recent recession?

A: Anticipation and speed of adjustment to real market demand is key to remain in business. If you manage to stay fit through such a crisis you will be more competitive when the demand goes up again.

Q: What’s the single most effective technique you found over the past two years for keeping employees motivated?

A: Empowerment is key. It is not just key to keeping people motivated but also to achieving the best results.

Q: What are the biggest changes you have seen in your specific line of business over the past few years?

A: Changes to the demand pattern are more frequent and require more flexibility.