Gary Platt has long been a world-renowned name in casino seating. The company recently brought in a new CEO to facilitate a new period of growth, and he spoke with Casino International about his credentials for the job and his plans for one of the great names of gaming.
Joe Esposito joined Gary Platt Manufacturing as CEO late 2017. His remit? To create greater efficiency and to expand a world-respected and -renowned brand beyond its traditional horizons – and he’s had a great start. Joe spoke with Casino International about what’s going on with Gary Platt.
Casino International: When did you join Gary Platt?
Joe Esposito: I started mid-October 2017, so it’s been over six months now. It’s a great company and a great opportunity.
CI: Business goes in cycles generally but Gary Platt has been at the top of its game for a long time – that’s unusual in any field. What’s your background, and how can you improve on what the company is already doing?
JE: I’m originally from upstate New York, Rochester, and I have always been in the operations/supply chain/manufacturing part of the equation. I worked for a long time in the housewares industry, as supply chain VP of operations and over the past few years I have run a few different organisations, with my role tied to growth and operational improvement. I ran Xenith, a football helmet company, and Fat Head, that makes posters of pro players for walls.
CI: One of the reasons you have come to the table for Gary Platt is supply chain efficiency; what does that actually mean both for the company and the end customer?
JE: For Gary Platt, we have been the premier chair supplier for the industry for many, many years and it’s growing so fast; we have grown over 50% over the last three years. The customisation and complexity in the industry is changing, people want more designs, more colours, more chairs, more options. That creates complexity in your supply chain because you need to be able to produce more chairs, shorter run lengths, more details and you have to do all of that within an efficient cost and while maintaining the same quality you are known for.
What I bring to the table is the efficiency of the supply chain, so that we can continue to make the customer experience even better, customers get their products faster and better – and in an efficient way that meets those complex needs.
CI: Has the establishment of a European office happened as a result of your appointment?
JE: It’s part of my influence, and it’s opportunistic in terms of the market availability there, we feel there is certainly an opportunity in Europe. This allows us to compete at a closer level to our customer and to be more regional and localised, and now we have the ability to split our supply chain into multiple facilities and to do that efficiently and effectively allows us to do this in a way to help us be closer to our customers. It’s important that we run an efficient supply chain and minimise the time everything takes for our customers.
CI: What is Gary Platt’s USP?
JE: There are two things that put us ahead of the rest of the market, I think. One is, our chairs are just the most comfortable. We win the ‘sit test’ all the time, we spend a lot of time with our partner that makes our specialised foam in Norway; we have won the sit test for 15 years. That leads casino players to spend more time on the game and that’s what our customers want to see. That’s at the top of the list, I think.
The second piece that goes along with that is, we are casino chair focussed. I believe we are the only business that solely delivers casino chairs, we do not gravitate into other areas. Where we try to expand and evolve the business is all related, with sound chairs, eSports chairs, there are lots of opportunities within the casino sector. So in a nutshell, it is a combination of having the best seats on the market, and a real focus on what we are doing for the industry.
CI: You do philanthropic work in your community, including on the board of a boxing gym in Detroit; is that a personal passion?
JE: I’ve always been involved in sports and gaming, things that are tied to sports. When I was in Detroit, I became involved with a youth program that had the credo, books before boxing. What it does is to take an inner-city group with a very low high school graduation rate and we allow these kids to come into the program for free. The hook is the boxing; they all want to learn to box and be competitive for free, but they have to go through the tutoring process, do their homework and stay in school before they get to that point. It’s an after-school program that has the kids from 4-7pm, with the first 90 minutes spent on studying and the second section on boxing. It’s been incredibly successful, with 200 kids on it at once and they have a 100% graduation rate for kids in the program, in an area that traditionally has less than 50%.
I love kids, I have three of my own and I want to see these kids succeed.
CI: What changes have you implemented within the company, and what are you looking to streamline or alter going forward?
JE: A lot of the changes have been the ability to improve our productivity and ability to deliver more chairs, more quickly. I guess that’s kind of boring in the big picture, but what we are trying to do, and where we are trying to grow, is across the world.
The reason we have stayed ahead of everyone is that we have established a track record of innovation. The newest chairs came out around when I started, and the Monaco chair with its unique appearance is selling really well. There will always be competitors who might have a cheaper chair, but we have stayed ahead in terms of innovation and new products and continue to spend money on R&D to develop the next cool chair and the next great idea. We have a new sound bench coming out, a new chair at G2E in October in Vegas… Staying ahead of the field in terms of innovation is critical to us.
There is still plenty of opportunity in the casino world both in the US and further afield, there are casinos redesigning, new casinos being built – we have to be more advanced and better designed than the competition.