What does it take to keep a company on the cutting edge of its technology? Leadership, says Bruce Morgan, president of Spatial Technology Corp., developer of the ACIS geometric modeler used in many CAD software packages. He knows what he is talking about. When he rejoined the company in 1997 after a two-year absence, it was weak at least compared to what it had been before. Sales were down and many in the industry said their technology hadn't kept up. Morgan set out to change that.
His first action: Communicate his own belief in the company's technology and its potential to his own staff as well as to outsiders. "You have to believe in the company before you can turn it around," he says, and he believed it with a passion. It's funny how passion is contagious. The engineers at Spatial were waiting for someone to share their optimism, and they responded with a burst of energy to update the company's core technology and develop new products related to it.
Among the results: a new sense of energy at Spatial Technology that's turned heads in the industry and doubled the company's stock price in the last year.
Another company in the software world that continues to turn heads is Parametric Technology Corp. When the company burst on the scene in the late 1980s it broke many of the rules in CAD and developed a new technology embedded in its Pro/ENGINEER CAD software that competitors scrambled to beat. After years of record-breaking financial performance and twice-a-year releases of new versions of the software, PTC could easily have become complacent. It didn't, thanks to the fire of President Steve Walske. Now, with new products like Windchill, it continues to innovate, again relying on the expertise of its engineers.
Led by Chairman Rollie Boreham and President John McFarland, electric motor maker Baldor is another that innovates with the energy of a young company. Among its strategies: provide each employee 50 hours of education per year to keep them sharp.
Meanwhile, on the East Coast, Schneeberger still catches the attention of customers and competitors alike with its average growth rate of 24 percent per year through the 1990s. Executive VP and Managing Director George Jaffe believes it's the extra effort companies put into helping customers that keeps them strong.
Leadership based on belief in technology and people has kept each of these companies young and vigorous. It's the source for the Fountain of Youth in industry.