Interview with the Leader’s Leaders

Jozef Gasperec, general manager, Leader Gasket Bytča Slovakia EU


I was born in 1961 in the small town of Bytča, in what was then Czechoslovakia. Bytča is home to Leader Gasket, in the SlovakRepublic where I live. I am married and have one son (30 years old). My hobbies in the summer time are hiking in the mountains, fishing on the lakes and rivers, and gardening. In winter, I enjoy mainly cross-country and downhill skiing.

I have been working for Leader since 1992, when Leader Gasket set up production in the Slovak Republic, through a couple of acquisitions up to last one by Eriks in 2013.

Challenges for the Gasket industries

The challenges faced by gasket industries include understanding the needs of - and providing solutions for - end customers, bringing new innovative products on the market with the main focus on low emissions, providing safe solutions for dang

erous and critical applications, participating in the new designs especially for OEM, and providing testing support, initially for the OEMs, lastly by ERIKS in 2013 for production in the Slovak Republic with technical knowledge and testing capability, so as to provide round-the-clock service for customers, especially during shutdowns, maintain the high quality of the products, and be able to deliver as and when requested.


Craig Cooper, general manager, Leader Gasket Deer Park & Baton Rouge, US


I was born in 1961, have been happily married for 32 years and have two great children. My daughter is a 3rd year medical studentand my son is a senior in college. Both my wife and I have lived in Baton Rouge, LA since we were children and have raised our family here. I had a lot more interesting hobbies when I was younger and before several injuries, but these days I love to play golf.

I was one of the founders of Leader Gasket in 1989 and sold it in 1999. I was part of the Lewis-Goetz organization when Leader was acquired by ERIKS and returned to Leader Gasket in August of 2015.

Challenges for Leader Gasket?

Leader Gasket, from my days of ownership and throughout its existence, has been run in an underfunded manor, always needing more modern, efficient and better equipment. ERIKS has changed that and has been and is willing to invest in the business. The challenge is to change the culture within the business toward a more systematic and professional approach to manufacturing versus the historic approach of “how can I get this order out”. We are working on upgrading and educating our people and processes, but it is a process.

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