May 19, 2020 Casino, Land-Based, Interview

Watering the flowers

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Andrew Burke, recently appointed CEO of Bluberi, speaks with Gaming America about his vision for the gaming supplier; this interview was originally published in the March/April edition of Gaming America magazine.

Tell us a bit about your background. Have you always been involved in the gaming world?

I started out at a private equity firm called Alpine Investors based in San Francisco. When I joined them in 2006 they owned a company called AGS. I started working on gaming related stuff at the private equity firm, including work with AGS but also looking at the acquisition of other companies.

Eventually I ended up joining AGS full time. I was doing sales, marketing, business development and a little bit of everything. I took a full time role with them in 2010 and moved to Las Vegas to join that executive team. Then I stayed on after we sold the company to Apollo in 2014.

When David Lopez came on as CEO he fully solidified my role as being in charge of the slot division. I ran that slot division at AGS all the way up to my departure in December last year. It’s been a lot of fun!

What are some of the most important lessons you learned during that time at AGS that you are looking to bring to Bluberi?

Firstly, I learned that culture matters. Having a great culture and having a place where people are excited to come to work is really important. It’s a top priority for me. I want the environment to be fun and rewarding but also challenging and it is really hard to balance all of those things. If you end up too far on the end of the fun spectrum then nobody takes you seriously but if you’re too far on the serious spectrum nobody has any fun. It’s critical for the success of any small company within this space to balance those.

Secondly, I learned that it is important to move quickly and be decisive. When you are a small company it is about how fast you respond to your customer’s needs and how fast you react to changes and challenges in the market.

Finally, it is about being easy to do business with. That is one of my main goals. I would love Bluberi to be the easiest company to do business with in the industry. That can be the way we work with internal customers, external customer, vendors and everyone. If we can use that as our mantra it will guide the way we think about everything.

What was it about Bluberi that made you make the leap from AGS?

The company has a very rich history. They’ve been in business for over 20 years. The first time I visited the company in Quebec was in 2006. I went there on behalf of AGS because they had a partnership with Bluberi. I realised that the team here is a very talented pool of gaming development and gaming professionals. They have a very solid class II system and product. The idea of taking this great fundamental business and growing it was really attractive.

I also love small businesses. My passion and heart is in small companies. When I was at Alpine we invested in small companies, so I love the entrepreneurial spirit that you really feel at a small company where everything everybody does matters. You make a direct impact on the business every day.

Now you’ve adopted the role of CEO, what is the game plan moving forward from a development perspective?

It’s about watering the flowers. I think there is a really great base of folks here and they’ve been chomping at the bit for a really great opportunity, so for me it’s about supporting them and giving them everything they need to execute on their vision. My goal is to get all the road blocks out of their way. The core vision they have is a really good one, but it just needs a bit of love to blossom.

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