20 Questions with John Galyen, Danfoss President

Originally published: 10.01.06 by Terry Tanker

Publisher Terry Tanker spent an afternoon with Danfoss President John Galyen discussing contractors, the wholesale market, commercial and industrial refrigeration, as well as the North American marketplace. Below is a recap of their conversation.


1. Word has it you are an avid fisherman. What’s the largest fish you ever caught?
162 pound black marlin, in Cabo San Lucas

2. Miles flown last year?
100,000 +.

3. Major in college?
Microbiology. Later, I got a degree in business administration.

4. Mirobiology. Does that come in handy?
More than you might think... my background in physics and chemistry really helped me in the early part of my career.

5. Childhood ambition?

6. What are your responsibilities for Danfoss?
I am responsible for commercial refrigeration, industrial refrigeration, and our wholesale business. I also have operations, which includes application engineering, technical services, local logistics, customer service, and marketing communications.

7. What’s the largest challenge for you this year?
Keeping up with the demand.

8. For Danfoss, North America is its fastest growing market segment, not China. Can you explain that?
We are benefiting from the fact that the economy is strong in the U.S. We are a relatively small market share holder and not so dependent on the absolute growth of mature markets here. We are distinguished from China, which is a rapidly expanding market where we have been for 10 years. Their growth is in the double digits and at least for the moment, we are growing faster.

9. What was the rationale for going into the wholesale segment a few years back?
We had built a relatively strong install base with our OEM customers, but we needed to have distribution to handle replacement products.

10. Any pet project you’re currently working on?
Organizational and employee development. We are a fairly young organization, but growing very rapidly. It’s important that we retain the good, in-house talent that we have and establish clear career paths for our team.

11. How does Danfoss define commercial refrigeration?
Commercial refrigeration for Danfoss is broken into 34 different applications. Ice machines, restaurant equipment, walk-in boxes, compressed air dryers, and cold rooms are the bigger market segments for us.

12. What about industrial?
We define it as ammonia-related warehouses, distribution centers, and processing plants.

13. ….and your wholesale distribution business?
It’s our channel partners, wholesalers and distributors, who help us serve the contractors.

14. How did you promote Danfoss at wholesalers?
We built a team of direct factory salespeople who went around and worked inside the branches, taking care of warranties, updating catalogs, training counter people — they held hot dog days — and diligently worked the field. Basically, just lots of good hard work.

15. How many do you have in the field?
We have a team of nine today supporting the wholesalers. Johnstone Supply, United Refrigeration, and Carrier Total Line are a few of the big ones.

16. How has promotional marketing for wholesale been received?
Very well. Up until a few years ago, contractors didn’t know the Danfoss name. Now, when they go into a wholesaler they will see our point-of-purchase displays, counter mats, banners, and special promotions for the contractors. Our sales team conducts counter days at the stores for training.

17 . Danfoss uses contractor focus groups. What do they help you to understand?
We gain deeper insights into the features and functions they value, which enables us to then incorporate them in the design.

18. What specific products came out of these meetings?
Our new KPU pressure and temperature controls for the commercial market.

19. Products are becoming more and more technical. Contractors face a shortage of skilled labor. What suggestions do you have for them?
As an ARI member we actively supported NATE. In order for contractors to invest in training and quality technicians, they need to be recognized for it. The homeowners need to know that they will have better value by using a NATE certified technician.

20. What important lessons has Danfoss learned about the North American market?
With regard to contractors, Danfoss is relatively new to the market and our products are not as well known. We have an obligation and requirement to train our people and to be ready to compete. We have an education and training component that trains both internally and externally. As a component provider our training is important to the contractor.

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