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30 Best CEOs of the Year 2021

An Interview with Terence Chou, Lanner Electronics USA Inc. GM: ‘Our Reputation for Reliability and Quality Banks on Our Strong Track Record of Delivering Excellence Combined with Innovative Designs’

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Lanner Electronics Inc., established over 30 years ago, has a track record of innovation in ODM/OEM design and manufacturing services for advanced network appliances and rugged applied computing platforms for system integrators, service providers, and application developers. The company’s US subsidiary Lanner Electronics USA Inc. or Lanner USA was founded to bring this engineering
innovation and manufacturing excellence to the North American market. As a result, Lanner USA’s first 20 years established it as a recognized industry leader focused on high-performance switching, advanced security, and hyperscale network computing solutions.

Lanner Electronics USA was incorporated in 1996 and is headquartered in Fremont, CA.

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Terence Chou, Lanner Electronics USA Inc. General Manager, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Reinventing the Computer Hardware Industry

Working together with customers, Lanner has established itself as a high-quality hardware partner. From providing designs based on state-of-the-art processors and networking & security technologies to beating client expectations, the company continues to explore ways to reinvigorate its customers with better service.

At its core, Lanner’s expertise lies in seamless technological integration coupled with quality, reliability, and security at every stage. From key ISO certifications that attest to the quality of processes and production, to security technologies from a simple boot guard to secure flash, to TPM+ and Secure IPMI and SecureBoot, and a laser focus on maintaining the quality of the end-product, Lanner has become the leader in its space. Certifications such as ISO 28000 for secure Supply Chain Security Management, TL9000 for its assembly process in the US, and FIPS140-2 to validate its cryptographic security makes Lanner a critical choice of Tier-1 players in the Enterprise Security market as well as for giant Telecom Service Providers.

We, as a company, have always placed a high emphasis on R&D. More than 50 percent of our team (excluding those on the factory floor) are engaged in R&D. With that technology innovation mindset, standing on the shoulders of decades of stable management and growth, and with the support of strong partners in the chip and software areas, it would be almost unthinkable not to try and shake up the status quo. And that is exactly what we have done by coming out with whitebox solutions and other innovations for the SD-WAN and security space. Therefore, our customers view us as a provider of solutions and a partner in their success, rather than just a computer hardware vendor.”

As a result of this, Lanner has become the leading vCPE / uCPE hardware provider behind major SD-WAN solution providers over the past few years alone. Among the 20 leading companies in the 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrants Report for WAN Edge Infrastructure*, 55 percent choose Lanner vCPE and uCPE platform.

Embracing Digital with Open Arms

As everyone knows, digital transformation has turned the network and security industry on its head. While this has been a good thing for a company such as Lanner, given its focus on the networking infrastructure market that enables digital transformation, sadly, it has sometimes meant making internal changes for optimizing operational efficiency to keep up with these transformative technologies.

Restructuring our workforce for adapting the impact of the digital transformation has been my toughest decision by far, since it has involved hard conversations with people who have been with us for a long time. Tough decisions such as this come with the territory when you are a leader, and the best you can do is be fair, give everyone an opportunity, and the tools to adapt to the change before looking at other measures. While our decisions may be driven by the interests of the company’s stakeholders, in my worldview, employees are one of the most important, if not the most important stakeholders. Therefore, ensuring that tough decisions are taken not purely for economic reasons but by ensuring that we are collectively better off with that change is how I have handled it. I am happy to say that in most cases, the restructuring resulted in our team-members finding better homes and roles for their new skills within our company and stepping up to the challenge.”

The Best Leaders are Great Teachers

Failure to transform digitally is cited as one of the main reasons for the disappearance of half of the Fortune 500 companies since 2000. The drive to digitally transform was a watershed event for many companies and their leaders. In other words, welcoming change surprises us with its extent and leads us to unimagined achievements. The world has seen fearless leaders who embarked on their vision and made it big. How they got it right is something we need to ponder on.

“While there are several CEOs I look up to, I would put Elon Musk at the top—not just because he is practically a neighbor. Yes, our office and factory are within a stone’s throw of Tesla’s Fremont plant. But he is a true visionary, not afraid to take risks and stand behind his calls, even if contrary to conventional wisdom. I also find it impressive that he is not afraid to publicize his visions and leverage media widely instead of keeping it to himself and only sharing it with the world if it is successful. In that way, he shows no fear of being accountable to the world for the predictions he makes and the execution he is about to embark on. Whether it is driving a green energy revolution, launching rockets into space, or digging up tunnels searching for the next generation of urban transportation, he continues to surprise the world. He’s not only innovative but also a thoughtful and comprehensive executioner of his creative ideas by bringing them to fruition despite the naysayers.

Life-Changing Moments that Led to Leadership

Terence Chou recalls moments and relationships in his journey at Lanner USA so far that have shaped his success and ambition trajectory.

Becoming the GM of Lanner USA on January 1, 2016, is the most memorable moment. It was the big one because I had to get used to the geographical change, the cultural change, and most importantly, get to know the company and its people with its reputed history already in place, while immediately pursuing a path to grow onwards. Over just a few years from then, we managed to triple the revenues of Lanner USA and also contribute to the success of Lanner worldwide, which, with our support, was able to cross 2M network appliances sold (and as of last year, 3M devices). So looking back at it, and what we have achieved since then, it feels like it wasn’t just a big moment but also a memorable one.”

The Leader at the Helm of Lanner Electronics USA Inc.

Terence Chou, General Manager, Lanner USA, is a well-recognized stalwart of the networking industry and a long-time Lanner veteran, having worked at Lanner Headquarters in Taipei and different Lanner business units in various technology, business, and operational roles. With the breadth and depth of his experience, under his stewardship of Lanner USA since 2016, the company has embarked on a growth path, making inroads into new networking technology areas while upholding its core competencies of quality, efficiency, and innovation. Mr. Chou believes that the commitment and the trust it has earned from its customers through years of its investment in their success are the key elements of Lanner’s differentiation and how it stays ahead of its competitors in the industry.

“Among the 20 leading companies in the 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrants Report for WAN Edge Infrastructure*, 55 percent choose Lanner vCPE and uCPE platform.”

* www.gartner.com/en/documents/3975600/magic-quadrant-for-wan-edge-infrastructure