Few people outside of Kenny Hiteman’s inner circle are aware that he is a Skywarn Storm Spotter for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Science and nature have long been a passion for him, and the curiosity regarding the secrets of nature indicates an eagerness to learn.
There was a time midway through his professional career, however, when Hiteman felt he knew “quite a bit.” It’s quite understandable; after two decades in an industry, one can get the sense that he/she has a fairly firm grasp on the machinations of business. But it dawned on Hiteman that the business world never stops evolving, and he shouldn’t, either.
“I grew to realize there was so much more to learn,” said Hiteman, the vice president of services and technical support for Toshiba America Business Solutions and a 2021 ENX Magazine Difference Maker. “Everything changes, sometimes rapidly. Learning how to quickly adapt while gaining a competitive edge in such instances is beneficial.”
The pandemic served as a not-so-gentle reminder of the sometimes violent changes that can visit business, and Hiteman quickly mobilized to guarantee Toshiba was able to deliver on its service-level agreements. Obviously, it’s not an easy task with in-person interactions severely curtailed, but Hiteman helped the OEM ramp up its ability to address service requests remotely while at the same time posting record high customer satisfaction scores.
Hiteman—who guides the teams responsible for servicing Toshiba’s MFPs, managed print solutions, digital signage, and label and receipt printers—was proud of his team’s response to the uniquely challenging situation. “From a business perspective, 2020 started a series of unprecedented challenges surrounding the pandemic,” he said. “Our team rose to the occasion and took aggressive actions to mitigate the impacts we were anticipating. Learning and implementing innovative new approaches within our team structure will be a lasting business accomplishment.”
It was during another challenging environment—the economic downturn of the early 1980s—that Hiteman was introduced to the industry. He became a field technician for a small company, where he was able to gain insight into the nuances of the business. Another key to his personal and professional growth was coupling real-world experiences with business and networking courses, and he soon had the opportunity to work in all aspects of the business, from B2B sales and customer service to operations and warehouse functions.
A 38-year industry veteran, Hiteman cherishes the time he has spent with Toshiba and the team culture it promotes, one in which all employees feel respected, appreciated and valued. And while the learning never ceases, Hiteman ascribes his effectiveness to embracing a servant leadership approach.
“I see myself as a coach,” said Hiteman, whose guidance enabled Toshiba to capture The Cannata Report’s 2020 Frank Award for Best Technical Service. “Helping our team grow and develop allows us to be agile and efficient. This results in serving our internal and external customers with care and passion while also achieving our goals.”
As the year draws to a close, Hiteman is challenging himself and the team to innovate and improve customer support. That entails constantly evaluating to create and adopt new, more efficient processes and procedures.
“I’m always reminding myself that it’s never about getting to a destination. It’s always an ongoing journey,” he said.
A longtime youth football coach, Hiteman was happy to watch from the stands as his son, Kenny, wrapped up his college football career. With degree in hand, the younger Hiteman is pursuing a career as a firefighter and emergency medical technician/paramedic. His daughter, Kristin (who was recently engaged) attained a BS in nursing and works in the health care field.
“I love seeing the value system that they were taught being demonstrated in their decisions,” Hiteman added. “Both have chosen professions where they can save lives.”