Sontay Chairman, John Zarno, commemorates a significant milestone as his leadership has shaped the company’s trajectory for two decades. In this interview, John shares insights into the company’s past, present, and future, highlighting key milestones and leadership philosophies. 

“I’ve enjoyed pretty much every minute of the last 20 years,” John remarks, as he acknowledges the significance of reaching two decades in his position. “It is a milestone yes, but it’s a beginning as well.”

Reflecting on pivotal moments that propelled Sontay forward, John credits the contributions of past managing directors creating their own milestones. “The first one is Trevor Palmer, who came to us from Canada and gave the company a big impetus in terms of product development. He was succeeded by Sandy Damm, who helped to internationalise the business a great deal. Of course, now we have Mark Newton, who since joining us, and supported by an incredibly strong management team, has continued our product development, significantly upgraded our operations and completely revolutionised the sales side of the business thereby taking us on to yet greater success.”

John thinks that this results in a major part of Sontay’s success being credited to all members of the team, and the company’s culture. “Our leadership philosophy revolves around trust and empowerment. Delegating authority and fostering a culture of accountability without fear has been instrumental in our success. Speaking further on the company’s culture, characterised by a “can-do” attitude and a multitude of leaders across all levels: “We effectively have 43 leaders in the company,” he explains, emphasising the collective spirit driving Sontay forward. 

Looking ahead, John stresses the need for Sontay to respond to emerging trends in the industry, particularly the continued growth of smart sensing and wireless technologies. “What we have to do is further internationalise the business, maintain the pace of our new product introductions and the operating strength we need to maximise their success, as well as continuing to strengthen our global reach” he asserts, highlighting the strategic priorities to sustain competitiveness in a rapidly evolving market.

When asked about his proudest moment, John remarks on the resilience displayed by the Sontay team during the challenging times brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s both about how we all worked together during the pandemic to keep our customers supplied, and when we all came back after COVID. I saw the spirit of the company, and what we had achieved during that time when so many businesses struggled and so many businesses, frankly, didn’t succeed. It made me immensely proud”.

John makes it clear that he feels a profound personal connection with Sontay, acknowledging it as the most enjoyable company he has been involved in throughout his varied career. “It’s the most enjoyable by some distance,” he affirms, encapsulating the deep sense of pride and fulfilment derived from leading Sontay into its next chapter of growth and innovation. 

We can’t wait to celebrate the next 20 years!