Larry Wash is an innovative and energetic leader whose background includes work on a game-changing piece of medical equipment, as well as classic rock concerts in Detroit. Now, he is excited to lead KONE Americas as EVP.
Larry Wash was born and raised in Detroit into an auto-industry family. He knew from the start he wanted to be an engineer and, more importantly, have a career that enabled him to work on innovative and exciting projects. In that regard, he has succeeded: as an engineer at what, at the time, was Eastman Kodak in Rochester, New York, in the early 1980s, he was part of a team that developed the computerized blood analyzer Ektachem 700, which made blood analysis twice as fast and efficient as it had previously been and resulted in significant earnings for Kodak when the technology was later sold to Johnson & Johnson.
“KONE UltraRope® is a great example of using technology to solve a fundamental problemem.”
Today, Wash is excited to be executive vice president (EVP) at KONE Americas, the parent company of KONE Corp., which recently has introduced its own game-changing innovations, notably KONE UltraRope® (ELEVATOR WORLD, August 2013). Wash opines:
“KONE UltraRope® is a great example of using technology to solve a fundamental problem. Elevators’ travel height was previously restricted by tons of steel rope, and this product increases height capacity dramatically. And it’s not just a matter of the rope challenging architects to do new, great things, but now you can have lighter cars and faster speeds. It’s a great example of how the industry in general, and KONE in particular, is changing the way buildings are being built.”
Intelligent buildings are at the heart of Wash’s leadership passion. In his role at KONE, a position he has held for about three years and one in which he oversees approximately 6,000 people, a key passion of his is working with others to help create smarter and more efficient buildings. He’s fed this leadership passion by transforming how building systems can connect to the Internet of Things and further innovate how buildings are designed, created and built. “The amount of innovation that has occurred in the past 30 years is just remarkable,” Wash states, adding that this not only applies to computers, but also to buildings and vertical transportation. “Having the technical background to be able to be a part of global innovation has always fascinated me.”
Working and Playing Hard
Wash has always been a high-energy person. In addition to a rigorous work and travel schedule, he works out twice a day and, in his younger years, played, coached and refereed hockey. His wife also plays, and his daughter is on the Division I women’s team at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, fittingly called the Engineers. “She’s played hockey since she was five years old,” Wash states. “We’re basically all hockey fanatics.” While his daughter is studying Communication, his son works in New York City at Deloitte, a business consulting firm. When Wash is not reading white papers related to the industry, he enjoys a good spy novel.
“Having the technical background to be able to be a part of global innovation has always fascinated me.”
The family enjoys time at their vacation home on Saratoga Lake, New York, where they partake in boating, fishing and swimming. Recent vacations have been to the Caribbean, with highlights being the Turk and Caicos and Virgin islands. “Watching my daughter catch and then touch a triggerfish was just priceless,” he says. In the Virgin Islands, the family was impressed by how different each island is from the other, ranging from fully developed tourist destinations to protected nature preserves.
The Beach Boys and Bob Seger
As a young man in Detroit, Wash used his electrical engineering skills to secure a job as a sound engineer for rock concerts, including the Beach Boys, The Doobie Brothers, Bob Seger and George Thorogood. “George Thorogood was, by far, the loudest concert I ever worked on,” he remembers. “I think my ears are still ringing!”
His life was not all rock and roll, however. Throughout this time, he was studying to be an engineer, eventually going on to earn his master’s in Electrical Engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology and an MBA from Stanford University in California. Besides Detroit, he has lived in Rochester and Princeton, New Jersey, and currently makes his home in Naperville, Illinois, near KONE Americas’ headquarters in Lisle. He also travels frequently to KONE’s global headquarters in Espoo, Finland.
Wash describes his professional journey as an interesting and rewarding one, and says coming to KONE was a natural step. As he has done with every potential employer, Wash thoroughly researched KONE’s business culture before coming onboard. He was and remains impressed by the company’s culture of innovation, teamwork and education. “I’ve been fortunate to be able to learn and grow with every job I’ve had, including and especially with KONE. The company is known for developing [its] people, imparting winning attitudes and good values.”
Prior to joining KONE, Wash spent four year as president of Global Services for the Climate Solutions division of Ingersoll Rand. During his tenure there, Ingersoll Rand was ranked the number-one industrial machinery company on Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies list. Guiding 7,500 employees across 60 countries, Wash “developed and led a multiyear transformation from a product-centric sales business to a return-on-investment-based services and solutions business, growing both top- and bottom-line results.”
Before this position, Wash led Trane’s Global Service and Contracting arm, where he:
- Oversaw more than 5,000 employees across 60 countries
- Grew service and contracting business by 19.5% to US$1.4 billion within a three-year timeframe
- Developed and implemented Trane’s Performance Contracting Energy Services business, which conducted energy audits to allow property owners to use future energy and operational savings to finance infrastructure-improvement projects
- Partnered with the Clinton Climate Initiative to identify energy efficiencies in the world’s 40 largest cities
He began his career at Kodak. After more than 12 years there, he moved to Xerox Corp., where he led development, sales and delivery of business-outsourcing packages. Throughout his career, he says, “I have really been blessed to love what I do.” Leading KONE Americas is no exception, he says, elaborating:
“I inherited a great organization with great people and assets. I love managing teams and overseeing transformations, and I believe we are moving from being good to great. KONE knows how to take assets and use them effectively, align teams and really go after something while having fun. That makes it a great place to work.”
Wash has high praise for KONE Americas’ College Recruiting program and says it is rewarding to mentor someone, then see the person matched with the right job in the technical, business, law, communications or sales departments. “I think what they learn is this is an industry you can grow in,” he says. “It’s a challenging industry, but someone with an appetite for learning can thrive.”
As for growing KONE, Wash believes attending industry events is a crucial part of the equation. He says conferences focused on service and building automation for property owners and managers offer particularly good opportunities. Attendance at such events helps KONE meet the challenges of an aging building stock, urbanization and a desire for energy efficiency. He states:
“We are also very active in the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) conferences. It’s important to stay on top of all the innovation we are experiencing. Also, the amount of project growth that is occurring in the U.S. is remarkable. At any given time, we are handling six to eight major projects. We have had several nice wins lately, and that’s why we work closely with CTBUH, as well as architects, developers, contractors and consultants.”