“Are you ever done?” said Pischke, laughing. “There’s always more to do.”
The accomplishments are nonetheless starting to add up. Last month, Pischke was named Global CIO of the Year during the inaugural Dallas CIO Awards. Since he joined the Irving-based construction materials supplier in 2011, he’s led Lehigh Hanson’s hefty North American IT presence through its parent’s $1.4 billion divestiture and $4.1 billion acquisition, each of which impacted U.S. operations.
But in addition to those landmarks, Pischke—the company’s first outside-hire as IT head–is leading the company’s digital transformation. He’s doing it step-by-step, leveraging analytics when possible, and slowly changing the IT culture of a company with roots that go back 140 years.
“We’ve been making cement and rock and concrete since … before IT was invented,” he told the Dallas Business Journal.
One major step has been to give customers and employees different options when it comes to interacting with the company, which in turn leads to efficiencies in the call center. For years, the most common call from customers had been to ask when the next truck with materials would be arriving. Lehigh added a tracking capability, and calls have dropped significantly.
“We can tell you exactly the ETA of that next truck,” Pischke said.
On the employee side, Lehigh Hanson’s decentralized infrastructure has called for similar efficiencies. By population, the company’s DFW office is a relatively small part of the more than 9,000 employees the company employs across 550 North American locations, so adding automated options to address various internal issues has had a similar effect. About 35 percent of internal interaction now comes through an employee self-service portal, and Pischke anticipates that the number could reach 40 percent with upcoming investments.
Yet some of the most advanced transformation could still be coming down the pipeline. The company is already experimenting with drones to measure on-site inventory.
Big data could play a growing role, as well. Because Lehigh Hanson doesn’t do a high volume of transactions—instead, they’re involved with a lower number of high-dollar projects—Pischke’s team generally hasn’t had a wealth of data to work with. But that could change in the age of the Internet of Things, as Pischke envisions a growing number of connection points on the company’s various motors, conveyers, and belts. The information registered by those points could create powerful information, potentially spotting malfunctioning equipment before it quits.
Of course, much of Pischke’s time has gone elsewhere recently, as Lehigh Hanson’s parents—the German company Heidelberg Cement—has been busy integrating a $4.1 billion acquisition of Italcementi. The purchase made Heidelberg the second largest supplier of cement in the world and brought about 60 additional plants and $750,000 to Lehigh Hanson, its North American operations.
The integration has been ongoing for about nine months, and the company has its final go-live date approaching in early May.
“I’m pleased to report this morning that the integration program has hit every mile stone, we are under budget, and we’ve achieved the quality we expect during a merger and acquisition activity of that size,” he said.
Presented by the Dallas Business Journal – March 14, 2017