Andreas Mattes never imagined becoming the chief executive of Diebold, a company that builds and sells cash systems such as ATMs. Before accepting the position in 2013, the German manager had made a name for himself in California’s high-tech mecca, Silicon Valley.
The business Mattes was about to enter, cash machines, seemed a little boring and without much of a future compared to his previous work, the executive thought. On top of that was a move from sunny, vibrant California to provincial Ohio. “I had come to believe the same stereotypes about Ohio as everyone else,” Mr. Mattes said.
Once in his new job, though, the 53-year-old executive quickly changed his mind. Cash machines, he discovered, offered plenty of potential for high-tech development. For one, electronic payment systems such as iPay, featured in Apple’s latest iPhone, could inject new life into the business. And although Diebold was losing money at the time and its shares had plummeted, Mr. Mattes viewed the company as “a sleeping beauty.”
Mr. Mattes is one of only a few Germans at the helm of a U.S. company. Like Klaus Kleinfeld, the chief executive of Alcoa, he launched his career at Siemens. Since taking over the company 14 months ago, he has made Diebold profitabale – at least for the past two quarters. The company’s market value rose by 40 percent to $3 billion during this period. “Mattes is doing a good job,” said Mario Gabelli, founder of the investment company Gabelli Funds.