John Paul Lynch
International Sales Director
CEO and Founder, LYNKA
John Lynch, 51, is an American entrepreneur who has been doing business in Poland and across Europe since 1991. In 1992, Lynch founded LYNKA, which he has grown to become Poland’s leading corporate apparel and sportswear manufacturing companies. Like many Polish ventures, LYNKA started with three employees and very little capital, and grew to over $20 million in sales and 200 employees. LYNKA has been recognized by the international press as “one of the leading promotional apparel companies in Europe.” In 2012, Lynka became the only company in CEE to be chosen by NIKE as an Official Apparel Supplier.
John grew up in New Jersey, and graduated from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 1984, with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. In his junior year, he took part in Lehigh’s first engineering exchange program with the University of Manchester, England. In 1987, John began studies in Marketing and International Management at The Wharton School of Business in Philadelphia. While at Wharton, he studied for one semester at IESE in Barcelona, Spain, where he strengthened his commitment to an international life and became fluent in Spanish. He enthusiastically continues his education via executive education programs including Harvard Business School’s YPO Presidents’ Week program.
Earlier in his career, John worked in manufacturing management at Procter & Gamble, Bristol-Myers and Schering Plough. After finishing Wharton, John took a position with Marakon Associates, a global management consulting firm in Greenwich Connecticut, specializing in business strategy and finance. After Marakon, John yearned to get back into operations, and he took a challenging position as Marketing Manager at MBI, a leading direct marketing company in Norwalk, Connecticut. Among other accomplishments, John successfully launched the company's first activities in Japan.
Shortly after the fall of communism, in 1991 John put his corporate career on hold and became a volunteer in a US government (AID) program called the MBA Enterprise Corps created to assist the new free-economies of Eastern Europe. It was a sort of Peace Corps for entrepreneurs. In his assignment in Poland, John consulted Polish entrepreneurs on how to start companies, raise capital and therefore create jobs, which was an essential part of the post-communist transformation. After the program ended, in 1992 John was appointed the Marketing Director for the First Polish American Bank (PPABank) – a bank funded by the Polish American Enterprise Fund to provide seed financing to small Polish businesses.
In 1992, having decided to stay in Poland, John launched LYNKA, a company created to supply Polish companies with corporate apparel and merchandise. Lynka was one of the very first companies launched by an American in post-communist Poland.
From humble beginnings – just 3 employees and $20,000 in start-up capital, the company has blossomed into the largest and most respected corporate apparel company in Poland, and one of the leading companies of its kind in Europe. By 2013, LYNKA had grown into one of the leading EU suppliers of apparel, with over 200 employees, and thousands of clients in 22 European countries. Lynka has more than 40 international awards for quality – more than any other European company in its field. Today, John still owns and runs Lynka, a company that prides itself not only on making great products, but on taking good care of its employees and giving back to the community.
John has been frequently featured in the Polish and International press as a role model for doing business in Poland. John has been featured in the Financial Times, The Economist, Wall Street Journal and US News and World Report.
John is a U.S. citizen, but very much enjoys the international life. He is fluent in Polish and speaks Spanish as well. He is also founder and chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Southern Poland, and has been an elected member of the Board of Directors of AmCham Poland since 2002.
When awarded “Entrepreneur of the Year” in 2004, the American Chamber of Commerce wrote:
“In recognition of your entrepreneurial spirit, commitment to people and success. Lynka is a timeless example of what good business is about: hard work, creativity, and commitment to the highest ethical standards.”
In 2010, Lynch was named one of the 10 American Pioneers who made the most profound contributions to the successful transformation of Poland to a democracy and free market economy. John is a Board member of the International School of Krakow. In the past he was on the Board of the Symfonietta Cracovia – a privately funded Philharmonic Orchestra comprised of young musicians, the Royal Krakow Golf Club and Junior Achievement Poland, a U.S. foundation created to promote business among children and youth.
Since 2009, John is on the Advisory Board of Supplier Global Resource Magazine, a leading ASI publication of the United States promotional products industry.
John is an outspoken supporter of “ethical business” in Poland, as well as “environmental compliance” in his industry. He has been published and spoken at business and industry conferences on these subjects extensively. John recently spoke at the largest corporate apparel industry trade show (FESPA in London, June 2013) where he gave a speech entitled “Industry Compliance Opportunities for Screen Printing Industry.” John writes a monthly article for one of Europe’s leading trade publications Images.
John was the recent Chairman of YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization) Poland in 2012, and a co-founder of WPO Poland (World Presidents’ Organization). YPO is a global network of young chief executives that connects 17,000 peers and their families in more than 100 countries to learn, exchange ideas and address the challenges leaders face today. Guided by the mission of building ‘Better Leaders Through Education and Idea Exchange’, the organization provides members with access to unique experiences, world-class resources, alliances with top learning institutions, and specialized Networks to enhance their business, community and personal leadership.
He loves current events, as well as traveling to new countries. His goal is to see one new country for every year of his life – currently he is at “par”, having last travelled to Ukraine, Malta and Norway.
John is married to Kasia Lynch, a schoolteacher and they live outside of Krakow, Poland with their two children, Jake and Sophia.