Kenneth G. Wilkes, BBA ‘80
Vice President, General Manager International Operations
Ken has served as Vice President, General Manager for International Operations for Libbey Glass, Inc. since May 2003. During his tenure, Ken has planned and executed the transformation of a U.S.-focused company to a fast growing international competitor. He has repositioned Libbey Glass as a global force in its industry, opening new sources of sales and profit growth.
Libbey Glass is now the 2nd largest producer of glass tableware in the world and the largest in the Western Hemisphere. During Ken’s tenure, he has been a principal force in changing the business from a slow growth company of $250 million in sales to a global leader in its industry, with $810 million sales (2008). International operations have grown in sales from $30 million in 2002 to $200 million in revenues in 2008. It is the fastest growing segment of the business, in sales and profits.
Ken attributes this success to “taking a customer-centered business, operations and commercial approach and proving we can win in the international marketplace against foreign competitors. American businesses are known for their greater attention to marketing, product and market development and service. We took those principles, considered and adapted to regional requirements, and applied them in our industry, to a world-wide market.”
Ken manages all operations outside North America, including wholly owned subsidiaries with manufacturing and distribution centers and regional sales offices in Europe and Asia. His scope includes commercial activities throughout the world, encompassing sales, marketing and distribution in 107 countries. He was instrumental in opening up markets in developing countries for Libbey, including China, India, Russia, Central and Eastern Europe, Africa and Latin America. Ken was also very influential in leading acquisitions in Mexico, Europe and the construction of a new manufacturing and distribution center in the Peoples’ Republic of China (near Beijing).
He is most proud of “redefining and establishing the business of a proud, American company to a global business and giving the people of our company the opportunity to show the World market that we can compete on a global basis, from Beijing, China, to Monterrey, Mexico, to Leerdam, the Netherlands to Toledo, OH.”
Ken credits CSU with providing him with the “development of strong financial and analytical skills and the ability to manage and balance work and marriage, while receiving a good education.” When asked what advice he would give to current CSU students in the College of Business, Ken responded, “take challenges in your career, don't fear new opportunities, be willing to change jobs to get the opportunity to expand your knowledge and broaden your perspective.”
Ken graduated from Cleveland State University in 1980 with a BBA in Finance and graduated Cum Laude from DePaul University in 2006 with an MBA in Finance. He resides in Sylvania, OH with his wife of 31 years, Teresa. They have three children: Matthew (24), Kyle (17) and Anna (12). In his free time, he enjoys tennis, golf and running, citing having run the Cleveland marathon as a personal high point. He also hopes to see the Cleveland Indians win the World Series in his lifetime. Ken is a member of the Nance College of Business Visiting Committee and a board member of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Northwest Ohio Chapter.