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Having served Alliance Laundry Systems in a variety of roles since 1998, Rick Pyle took over as president of global business Alliance International in August 2014. “We’re the largest in the world, but we’re humbled by that,” he tells Michael Jones


aundry may not be a concern for all hospitality sectors, but to many operators across the globe, being able to present clean linen to customers every day is as essential as ensuring that the food and service hit their marks. Having worked for 17 years in a range of roles for Wisconsin- based parent company Alliance Laundry Systems, the largest commercial laundry manufacturer in the world, few in the industry are better placed to understand that need than the leader of the firm’s global division, Alliance International. Richard ‘Rick’ L Pyle has been

president of Alliance International, the company responsible for all business outside of North America, since August 2014. Originally an accountant, training with Deloitte & Touche, Pyle was previously vice president of international sales at Alliance Laundry Systems for three years. Employed with Alliance since 1998, he has held various management positions, including controller of a number of divisional operations, materials manager, VP of customer support and VP of marketing services. Prior to joining Alliance, Rick served in various accounting and operations positions for eight years with Alliance Remanufacturing, Inc.

When we met in London earlier this

year, in the offices of Alliance’s PR agency, Pyle told me that 70% of his time is spent “on the road”, or, to be more precise, “up in the air”. His life is a blur of airports, trade show conferences, manufacturing plants, client facilities and hotels. Prior to London, he was in Brazil for a few days, then the Philippines, then Chicago, Paris and Belgium (“but just for a day”). The day after we meet he is off to Scotland, then back in Chicago for three days before flying on to Dubai. He is hugely reliant on Skype and social media to keep in touch with his 17 and 20-year-old daughters back home in the US. Is he starting to flag at all, or tire of the itinerant businessman’s life I ask? Not a bit of it. “With the opportunities I’ve had, I feel extremely fortunate. I think I’ve got the best job in our company and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else,” he says with a broad smile.

A global brief Pyle’s mission at Alliance Laundry Systems is to grow the business outside the US and Canada. “We have historically had a large market presence in the US, but our growth opportunity has been outside the country,” he says. “As we’ve grown and developed, our real business has changed. Our company has recognised that international business is different

and we have to approach it differently. Previously we were largely seen, and actually behaved, as a company that just exported product. Now there’s a keen awareness that’s not how we can best get to these markets. So Alliance International is under the umbrella of Alliance Laundry Systems, but in effect it’s a separate internal organisation that is responsible for really focusing on those markets and not something that’s driven out of one central corporate area in Wisconsin.” Alliance International segment the rest of the world into four regions: Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific, and Latin America. Pyle has a director in each of those regions reporting to him, and they are ultimately responsible for all sales and marketing activity within their region. The division has sales and service offices in São Paulo, Delhi, Barcelona, Lyon and Pribor in the Czech Republic, where the firm also has a manufacturing plant. Another plant operates in Guangzhou, China, while the European headquarters is in Gullegem, Belgium. “We previously also had a manufacturing facility in Belgium, but we transferred production to the Czech Republic, which is where our main product is manufactured for the international markets. Wisconsin in the US and the Czech Republic are our two main manufacturing centres of any volume production. In China, we build our largest product, but it’s at fairly low volume,” he says. Alliance’s products are, says Pyle:

“not the lowest-priced product in the marketplace,” but they steal a march on their rivals through their design, quality of materials and value-added services. “We have to be competitive, but our product is positioned as a premium product in the marketplace. We wrap a lot of services and support around that heavily engineered, reliable product. What also differentiates us is not where the product is manufactured, but the design of that product and the tooling investment. We emphasise the structural

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