Patrick Bass

Photograph by Benjamin Rasmussen for Fortune
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It’s easy for corporate success stories to get lost in the unglitzy realm of manufacturing; it’s easier still when they’re buried inside a struggling global conglomerate. Thyssenkrupp North America is one such tale—and the unassuming protagonist here is Patrick Bass, who took the helm in January 2015. Since then, tkNA, which operates more than 40 businesses making 1,000-plus things, from industrial materials to automotive assembly lines, has solidly boosted both sales and profit margins while steadfastly investing in new tech to seed the next generation of growth. Bass, whose 6-foot-5 offensive lineman frame seems to belie the soft-spoken engineer inside, has focused on building the tools for a digital-industrial age—but it’s machine-making wizardry that gets him most excited. Just get him talking about “the Multi,” a “rope-less” elevator that can go horizontally and diagonally as well as vertically. Anyone who’s ever wanted to ride in the “Wonkavator” now has a chance.