Great Businesses...How do they do it?

Speaker: David Burdakin, BSIE '77

Title: Great Businesses...How do they do it?

Date: October 21, 2021, 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Location: Iacocca Hall Wood Dining Room, 111 Research Drive, Bethlehem, PA 18015

The ISE Department is please to announce that David Burdakin, President JBT Aero Tech, will give a Spencer C. Schantz Distinguished Alumni Public Lecture titled Great Businesses...How do they do it? on Tuesday, October 21, 2021, 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.  A cocktail reception and dinner will follow from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. in Iacocca Hall Wood Dining Room. Registration is required for both events (Sheila Dorney,


Great Businesses…How do they do it?

In the early 1970’s, Toyota was a small manufacturer of low-priced cars built in Japan with a mixed customer reputation.  After developing and refining the “Toyota Production System”, they have grown to be the undisputed global leader in automobile manufacturing. Today their market value is greater than the next 3 largest traditional competitors combined.     

In the early 1980’s, a new manufacturing company was created in Montana and named “Danaher” after a local river. After developing and refining the “Danaher Business System”, they are now a $20 Billion scientific instrument leader with over 20 operating companies in diagnostics, life sciences and environmental solutions and 58,000 employees worldwide.     

Around the same time Danaher was formed, Illinois Tool Works (now “ITW”) was a ~$0.5 Billion low growth producer of plastic parts for automotive and construction markets. After developing and religiously applying their “80/20” philosophy, they have grown to sales of $18 Billion, with over 100 business units, 45,000 employees, and their market value has increased 150+ times.    

How did these organizations and others like them go from humble beginnings to industry leading benchmarks for excellence? What key concepts can be learned and applied to all organizations looking for future growth?   

At this year’s Fall Schantz lecture, Dave Burdakin will share some key concepts, tools, and stories to answer those questions, and describe how they apply not just to manufacturing, but to transportation, healthcare, and education.  


Dave Burdakin is Executive Vice President and President JBT AeroTech for John Bean Technologies Corporation (NYSE: JBT), a position he has held since early 2014. JBT AeroTech is America’s leading provider of Airport Gate and Ground Support Equipment. Most known for its Jetway© brand passenger boarding bridges, JBT is also a leading global manufacturer of deicer trucks, cargo loaders and pushback tractors as well as provider of technical maintenance services at over 20 major airports.     

JBT AeroTech is the third business where Dave has served as President, led a Lean Transformation and achieved record sales and profits.  He had previously served as President of Paladin Brands and President of The HON Company, the largest operating company of HNI Corp.  Before joining HNI, he held various roles at Illinois Tool Works, Bendix Industrial Group, and American Can Company.  Dave also served on the Board of Directors of Wabash National Corporation (NYSE: WNC) for six years and was elected Lead Director in 2006. Dave holds an MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business and a BS degree in Industrial Engineering from Lehigh University.  He and his wife Kim reside in Chicago. They have four adult children and one grandchild.

Lehigh ISE Spencer C. Schantz Distinguished Lecture Series

The lecture series is endowed in the name of the late Spencer C. Schantz, who graduated from Lehigh in 1955 with a B.S. in Industrial Engineering. Following progressive responsibilities with several electrical manufacturing companies, in 1969 he founded U.S. Controls Corporation and became its first CEO and President. The Spencer C. Schantz Distinguished Lecture Series was established by his wife, Jerelyn, as a valuable educational experience for faculty, students, and friends of Lehigh’s Industrial and Systems Engineering department.