Better Work, Better World: Matt Nichols of BW Papersystems

July 19, 2023
  • Brent Stewart
  • Brent Stewart
    Digital Strategy & Content Leader at Barry-Wehmiller

Matt Nichols knows about opportunity.

In the 26 years he’s been with Barry-Wehmiller – specifically our BW Papersystems company headquartered in Phillips, WI – he’s been a field service tech, had an engineering role in the field, became an engineering leader for an aftermarket group, transitioned into a product leadership role and is now the director of field service for all BWP service team members in North America.

But just as Matt has seized opportunities presented to him within our organization, he regularly looks upon his role as director of field service and those field service technicians within his span of care as responsible to seize another kind of opportunity.

The opportunity to serve.

BW Papersystems builds corrugators and corrugated finishing equipment; folio-size, cut-size, and digital-size sheeters that companies use to convert paper, board, and other materials into boxes, folding cartons, ream-wrapped paper for copy machines, and passports.

And field service is very much the frontline when it comes to fulfilling our customers’ expectations.   

“Oh, field service is so important to us,” Matt said. “It's incredibly important, as you can imagine. We represent a lot of things, our technical aptitude as an organization, the face of our organization to our customers.”

A field service technician has a variety of duties, including performing preventive maintenance on production and facility equipment; operating machines through trial run to ensure that quality and rate of production meet specifications; training customer personnel in adjusting, maintaining, and repairing machinery or equipment; and perhaps most importantly, communicating equipment issues and resolution to operators and repairing or coordinating repair of worn or defective machinery or equipment.

With field service providing such a crucial role to our customers, an attitude of service is definitely needed, which can help to foster one of the most important elements in building trust.  

“When it comes to building that trust with the customer, there’s the competency element and the consistency element and, of course, there's honesty,” Matt said. “But, the last element is compassion, or the caring portion. For us, to build that trust, they have to see that we care about what their issue is.”

Barry-Wehmiller works to ingrain this caring spirit within our team members through various trainings, but especially through classes in our internal university.   

One of which is our Culture of Service Foundations class. In the Culture of Service course, we teach that responsibility is given, but accountability has to be taken. It’s not about holding someone’s feet to the fire, it’s about lighting a fire inside a person – helping to instill an intrinsic sense of ownership of a job or task and then the willingness to face the consequences of its success or failure.

The Culture of Service Foundations course works to shape new ideas around service – from re-defining a customer from an external person to your co-worker, your family, even someone you’ve never met. It teaches the idea that service is taking action to meet the needs of someone else. Therefore, a culture of service is a shared purpose where everyone is meeting the needs of others inside and outside the organization. Teaching our people to be in service to others, no matter their role or interaction.

Another class that helps to facilitate a caring spirit is our communication skills class, Listen Like a Leader. It’s the foundation for all our other classes in Barry-Wehmiller University and, based on the feedback we’ve received over the years, it might be our most impactful.

Overwhelmingly, graduates of the class realized how little they knew about listening vs. talking. Listen Like a Leader taught them how to listen actively—to hear not just the words but understand the meaning and feelings behind the words. The result: improved working relationships and, moreover, improved relationships with their family and friends.

And, better service for our customers.

“Listening to our customers is absolutely critical,” Matt said. “When we go on site and want to hear what they want from us, from our products, we have to hear what they're asking for. Of course, that involves listening.”

“We're working harder to understand what services our customers want to have, and really listening to what their needs are and what their wants are. We know that turnover is really high across all industries, operator and maintenance in particular for corrugated, or for all our product lines. Customers are struggling in that area. What is it that we can do to help you better bridge that gap as you onboard new team members constantly? What can we do? And actually listen to what they have to say.”

The ability to seize the opportunity to serve and to actively listen helps to actualize caring for our customers, which is incredibly important for our field service team members.

“If we're better at listening, well, why are we better at listening? Because of the communications skills class, and the other things we're hearing about,” Matt said. “If we have team members that are more fulfilled, that means they're more engaged and more energetic about what they're doing.”

In striving toward a culture of service, we aim to seize every opportunity to serve and, in doing so, increase emotional connections that cultivate better relationships thereby offering ultimate service to all.

Like Matt, seizing the opportunity to touch lives through our business.


Better Work. Better World. is a video series designed to shine a light on team members throughout the global Barry-Wehmiller organization. Watch the video through the link above to learn more

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