A Conversation with Matt Akin, TrueLogic

Matt Akin is president of TrueLogic Co. and for the past two years also has been chairing the Sur/Fin steering committee.

Matt Akin is president of TrueLogic Co., a plating software firm, but previously had a hugely successful first career in the oil and gas industry. For the past two years, he has been chairing the Sur/Fin steering committee, leading it and the annual conference to Atlanta last year and to Cleveland this summer. We spoke to him as the 2018 conference grows near.

PF: This is your second year as chair of the Sur/Fin steering committee. How has this year been different from the first year?
MA: Sur/Fin 2017 was held in Atlanta, and having the finishing industry’s premier event in the southeast for the first time in many years was a bit of an unknown. It ended up being a being a great success. Sur/Fin 2018 will be in Cleveland, which is a great city and a super location for Sur/Fin, as evidenced by very successful events in the recent past. The NASF, the NASF board and the Sur/Fin steering committee are committed to expanding the NASF and Sur/Fin brands, and one example of the success of this effort is that exhibitors and attendees from Sur/Fin Atlanta, many of whom were first-time exhibitors and attendees, are already registered for Cleveland.

PF: Why is it important for finishers to attend the Sur/Fin event?
MA: Sur/Fin is the premier industry event for anyone involved in or associated with surface finishing. It is “The Event” for renewing old relationships, forging new ones, attending leading-edge conference sessions and receiving face-to-face time with industry experts from all areas of surface finishing. This is the place to get answers to questions you have as well as answers to questions you didn’t know you had. This annual gathering has provided countless companies the edge they were looking for to make it to the next level.

PF: How did you get your start in the finishing industry?
MA: A great friend had a great product and needed some assistance to move the product/business forward.

PF: What’s the best piece of advice you have been given?
MA: Personally and professionally, my father taught me by example: “Treat others how you wish to be treated.”

PF: What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?
MA: Sun Oil Co. showed me I could love what I do and make a living doing it.

PF: If you had $100,000 to give to a charity, which one would it be?
MA: The Alzheimer’s Association.

PF: What was your first car, and what is your dream car?
MA: A 1972 Mercury Marquis station wagon, which was a hand-me-down from my older brother who had it handed down to him by our oldest brother. My dream car is a Range Rover.

PF: What leadership traits have helped you along the way?
MA: Lead by example and be willing to do anything you ask another to do.

PF: When you were 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?
MA: A lawyer, but I later decided to make an honest living (just kidding about the latter part, Dad).

PF: Night owl or early bird?
MA: Yes.

PF: Favorite place you’ve ever lived?
MA: Austin, Texas.

PF: What organization or company, aside from your own, do you most admire?
MA: Dell. Michael Dell took pieces and parts to build personal computers in his Jester dorm room at the University of Texas, and turned customized, made-to-order personal computers into a business with a model that was the modern-day equivalent of Henry Ford’s assembly line. And Dell was flexible enough to successfully change the model as consumers’ wants/needs changed.

PF: If you could trade jobs with anyone for a day, who would it be?
MA: Bob Phillips, “Texas Country Reporter,” who travels throughout Texas interviewing interesting people doing and making interesting things.

PF: Where would we find you on a typical Saturday?
MA: At the office Saturday morning, then anywhere with my wife of 31+ years for the rest of the weekend.

PF: What’s the best way to keep a competitive edge?
MA: Keep growing by looking forward and helping others do the same. You can’t run your fastest looking back.

PF: Who are your personal heroes?
MA: My father, Henry D. Akin Jr.; Mel Brooks; and President George W. Bush. You may not like everything he did as president, but he put our country first and was true to his word amidst unimaginable circumstances.

PF: How do you motivate people?
MA: Hopefully by example and by rewarding missions accomplished.

PF: How do you motivate yourself?
MA: Even though I’m now orphaned, continuously trying to make my parents proud.

PF: What are your three greatest passions?
MA: My wife, my children and trying to make someone else’s day!

PF: Most unique office décor?
MA: Four jaw-dropping, beautiful knives that belonged to my father. My partner took the knives and had them set in a case along with a picture of my dad. My brother-in-law snuck in one day and placed a sticky note on the glass that reads, “In case of emergency, break glass.”

PF: Best business decision?
MA: Picking good partners and surrounding myself with people smarter than me.

PF: Worst business decision?
MA: Not buying my college rental house in Austin from my friend and landlady who, in 1980, offered to sell it to me for $65,000—and she would even have carried the note. I declined because the plan was to move back to Dallas to attend law school. By a miracle, my first career in oil and gas replaced law school, but two years later, the house in Austin I could have purchased for $300/month sold for $250,000.

PF: Biggest management myth?
MA: Failure is unacceptable. Not trying for fear of failure is unacceptable; without experiencing the “agony of defeat” how can you truly enjoy the “thrill of victory?”

PF: What advice would you have given yourself 10 years ago?
MA: Have confidence in the next generation. I took my advice, and it has paid off miraculously.

PF: What word best describes you?
MA: Persistent.