Likely the single most experienced currency handling expert in the business, Giesecke & Devrient’s Global Business Development Director – Casinos, Jim Goodwin, has helped the German company become a leader in the gaming industry.
Inside Asian Gaming: Can you start by telling us a bit about your background?
Jim Goodwin: I grew up in the state of New Mexico. I was the middle child of nine and went away to a boarding high school in Kansas and started dating my wife when I was 15. We got married when we were 20and 19 respectively and had our three kids by the time I was 24.
My first real job was working for my father. I started working with him just before I got married and worked with him for 15 years. He was an ex-Remington Rand guy, business machines, and he was adding a lot of machines at the time. He bought all the Remington Rand offices in the 1970s and that’s how I got into the business. I started with currency handling in the ‘80s because we were the distributor for a lot of products on the banking side of the business.
IAG: What were currency counters like back then?
JG: They were a little bit different because there were no discriminating counters back then, there were just piece counters. There were some sorters. We were actually a Glory dealer back in those days and Glory had a sorter called the TSA 500 which was a 6-pocket sorter that was an expensive machine at the time at US$65,000. In the late 80s that was a lot of money.
We also did Sharp teller equipment. We had a PC-based teller system so we sold PCs in the early days, Compaq and IBM, so I started very early concentrating on that sort of stuff – PC-based teller systems, teller systems in banks, currency handling systems – and then when casinos started emerging in New Mexico around the mid80s I started with currency handling in casinos. I’ve been in casinos a little over 30 years and in currency handling a little over 37 years.
IAG: That would have to make you the most experienced casino currency handling expert on the planet.
JG: Probably. I’ve probably been at it longer than most. I like joking around that I’ve been in the business longer than Cummins has had currency counters! They were coin sorters back in the day, so I’ve been in the business a long, long time.
IAG: Before we move on, what was it like being one of nine kids?
JG: A little different because it was two different families. I had four younger siblings and four older siblings and it’s the exact same order on each side of me – girl, boy, girl, girl. So there are two very distinctive families on each side of me. My older brother was a heroin addict and died when he was 25 when I was a freshman in high school. That’s why I don’t drink and don’t smoke. I stayed away from all those kinds of things. But it’s interesting, I have six sisters and most people don’t have six sisters – then I married a girl from a family of 11 kids! She is the seventh child of 11.
IAG: And yet with 18 siblings between you, you stopped at just three kids!
JG: Yes, I stopped at three but my wife wanted six! But being the middle kid of a large family is tough. I went away to boarding high school so it kind of separated me from the family a little bit and the older ones were already out of the house by then because of the age differences. My older sister is 13 years older than I am and the younger sister is eight years younger so there is quite a bit of difference in our ages, our thought philosophies and how we were raised.
IAG: Did being part of such a large family play a role in you wanting to travel the world as you do now for business?
JG: I think so. We were a pretty driven family. Parts of us are very much into the marketing side. My father is a sales person, I have a sister and a brother that are very much into marketing in businesses. My grandfather was the National Sales Manager for a large company in Fort Worth. He was actually killed in a commercial plane crash in 1955 while working, traveling to meetings.
It’s kind of built in. There are some hereditary things that are built into us in terms of being in front of people. But I also think I’ve always wanted to be in international travel. I’ve always wanted to be an international businessman. It took me a little longer to get there because the international side of it didn’t happen until I was about 50, but there is so much business in this market, it is so untapped and is growing so fast. Trying to stay in front of it is difficult.
IAG: How and when did you start with G&D?
JG: I started with G&D in mid-2003 so I’m coming up on 14 years. I was mostly the Western United States Regional Sales Manager so I took care of that area and really grew that area for casinos for G&D.
I did a couple of other things to before that. I worked for my Dad for 15 years and then I worked for a software company for about five or six years in New Mexico. I worked for Mosler too and spent about 18 months in Chicago selling ATMs. It was very short – a Southwestern kid in Chicago? Didn’t work – not enough sun! That’s where I started with G&D when the opportunity came up in the western United States and got me back to the Southwest in warmer weather.
2010 was about the time I came into the global position at G&D. We call my role Business Development Director for Casinos globally but I’m kind of the efficiency expert that comes in and does count room layouts, count room flows, consulting with the casinos in conjunction with our sales people and distributor networks around the world.
“I’m kind of the efficiency expert that comes in and does count room layouts, count room flows, consulting with the casinos in conjunction with our sales people and distributor networks around the world.”
IAG: Coming from the US and suddenly walking into a place like Macau which was soaring ever higher by 2010, how did you deal with those sorts of volumes at the start?
JG: I think we were pretty blessed – both me personally and us as a company – in that the relationships I had built in Las Vegas with Wynn, MGM and Sands Corp, who were my customers in Vegas, really gave us the initial “in” to those three properties when we got into Macau. So in 2007 and 2008 we basically got their first properties automatically. Unfortunately after that the company wasn’t really focussed on gaming and I was more in a Western region of the United States selling, so of the next 28 properties that opened, G&D didn’t get any of them because we didn’t take advantage of our stuff in Asia.
I put a lot of effort when I started this role in 2010 into changing our image again and then getting a person in our Hong Kong office that was really just focussed on casinos. And it’s been quite successful. We feel that Asia is a strong, strong market and our sales rep has done a great job. Of all the casinos that have opened in the past four years, she’s won all but two. Everything else she has won – and that’s through Macau, the Philippines, Saipan and so on.
IAG: How often do you visit Macau?
JG: It depends on the year but I average three to four times a year. It’s interesting to see the infrastructure there changing so rapidly. More land gets filled in, parking lots get developed. The bridge is almost done!
IAG: What do you do when you’re here and have some time away from work?
JG: Unfortunately I don’t have any nonwork. The way that I travel, I am typically not anywhere for a week. I fly in, have meetings, sleep and go to the next place. On a three week travel schedule I have meetings every day. I might have three days in Macau, fly to Hong Kong, go to Singapore, Manila and Cambodia. I seldom have time to see any sights.
IAG: How about when you’re back home? What do you do to escape?
JG: My time is early morning when I go to the gym. I wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning, go to the gym about 3.30 and work out for two-and-a-half to three hours each day. That’s my time for me. No work, no phone, no emails. That’s my quiet time and in reality that time of day is quiet no matter where you go. I don’t even need to fight other people in the gym because there are only a handful of people there.
Also, my wife and I have been married 37 years and have been together for 41 so that’s almost all our lives. We have three grandkids and our 19-year-old grandson and I go to the gym together quite a bit. We also have an eight-year-old grandson and a twoyear-old grandson who all live in Vegas, so we get to see them quite a lot.