Industrial Innovators are Still Powering Our American Economy

September 15, 2022
Industrial innovator David Dunbar, President and Chief Executive Officer of Standex International (SXI)

David Dunbar, President and Chief Executive Officer of Standex International (SXI)

There is a common complaint often heard in the United States that an aging industrial plant has limited the American Dream.  This is not the case.  In-depth interviews with these 7 American industrial innovators reveals a much greater prospect for growth.

David Dunbar is President and Chief Executive Officer of Standex International Corp.

Prior to joining Standex on January 20, 2014, Mr. Dunbar was president of the Valves and Controls global business unit of Pentair Ltd. from 2009 through December 31, 2013.

He was appointed to that position by the Flow Control business unit of Tyco International Ltd., which merged with Pentair in 2012.

From 1997 through 2009, Mr. Dunbar held senior management positions at Emerson Electric Co., including president, Emerson Process Management Europe, president, Machinery Health Management, and president, Emerson Climate Technologies Refrigeration.

Prior to his employment at Emerson Electric, Mr. Dunbar served in numerous industrial automation and control business roles at Honeywell International Inc.

His company is a leader in a variety in high performance industrial components.

“One is a sensor and switches business, primarily built around the core technology of a reed switch, which is a simple electromagnetic switching technology.

Although it’s a relatively old technology, reed switches are experiencing a rebirth now with the electrification of so many different industries and products.

One example is in electric vehicles — we have four times the content as we do in a combustion vehicle with reed switches for two reasons.

One, the reed switch when it’s open consumes no electricity, no current.

Solid state switches, even when they’re off, still consume current.

In designing electric vehicles, there is a premium on preserving the electrical power, so they’re putting more applications to reed switches.

The second reason for the rebirth is the need to conduct occasional safety tests.

There are these built-in safety circuits that will occasionally open or close various circuits to see if there is a dangerous condition. And during that test, if there is a dangerous condition, there could be as much as 10,000 or 15,000 volts across the switch.

That would burn right through a solid-state switch.

But we have a line of reed switches that can withstand that kind of breakdown voltage.

So we’re finding a lot of opportunity in the safety isolation test circuits for EVs, and also the battery management systems that go into electric vehicles.

The second part of the electronics business is what we call high-reliability magnetics.

These are your filters, transformers, and highly engineered products that go into the power management systems of medical devices, like MRI scanners, or smart grid products for utilities, military, and aerospace.”

Another industrial innovator has his company specializing in motion control.

Industrial innovator Dick Warzala is the Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of Allied Motion Technologies (AMOT)

Dick Warzala, Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of Allied Motion Technologies (AMOT)

Richard S. Warzala is Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of Allied Motion Technologies, Inc.

Mr. Warzala joined Allied Motion as President and Chief Operating Officer in 2002.

He was named President and Chief Executive Officer in 2009.

He has been a director of the company since 2006 and Chairman of the Board since 2014.

Earlier, he was President of the Motion Components Group of Danaher Corporation and held various positions at American Precision Industries Inc., including Corporate Vice President and President of its API Motion Division.

“In any motion system, and again we’re talking about controlled motion, meaning that you’re looking for some type of control over the process, at some type of precision, that’s where Allied gets involved.

It starts with a base motor. But motors aren’t just motors.

There are many types of motors.

They all fit different types of applications. Typically, we’re in the precision side of it.

If you start with a motor, you have to move a certain distance in a certain period of time or you have to move to a position so a function can be performed.

You have to add other elements around the motor.

And those elements include what we would call drives, some people call them inverters or amplifiers, all meaning the same type of thing. They’re converting an electrical signal into the current going into the motor itself, which actually makes it move.

If you can do that more efficiently, more effectively, you can make the motor more efficient.

You could have a really good motor and a very poor drive.

So our job is to say: Let’s take the motor, let’s optimize the way we’re directing the current into the windings so that we can make the motor more efficient, create more torque, less heat.

And then as you add other elements to that, many times gearing is a good solution because it allows you to use smaller products, meeting the needs for packaging in the system itself.

It’s more compact by improving torque at a certain speed by just using multiple gears or gear ratios.

And adding to that, you have an encoder for feedback or some type of a feedback device, resolvers or encoders.

It closes the loop in the system itself.

That ensures that it’s doing what it said it was supposed to do. It is feeding back that information to the main controller, which we do as well.

The main controller is the brain over the entire system. So it’s directing everything going on in the machine or the process.

It’s getting signals back whether certain things are done, and then sending signals to do the next operation and/or the next sequence of events that may have to occur.

So Allied provides all of that.

And that’s what we’re talking about — a complete solution.

Start with a motor, add the ability to direct the current into the windings in the most efficient manner possible, add a feedback element that tells you whether or not it’s actually occurring in a continuous closed-loop basis, add gearing if the application requires gearing to give it the performance it needs at the desired speed and torque, and then monitor.

Oversee and direct the entire process through the controller.

So Allied added all of that capability here in the last few years, and we’ve been developing it over the last 20 years.”

3-D printing was all the rage a fews years back but this industrial innovator has turned his company into a champion of American ingenuity.

Industrial innovator Ric Fulop is the CEO and co-founder of Desktop Metal (DM)

Ric Fulop, CEO and co-founder of Desktop Metal (DM)

Ric Fulop is the CEO and co-founder of Desktop Metal.

Mr. Fulop has served as the CEO since the incorporation of Desktop Metal in 2015.

Prior to founding Desktop Metal, Mr. Fulop was a General Partner at North Bridge Venture Partners from 2010 to 2015 and served as a Founder of A123 Systems, Inc. from 2001 to 2010.

“We have a massive moat. We have over 650 patents.

We are number-one market share, 90% market share in metal binder jetting.

We’ve got a significant moat in digital casting and printed hydraulics, also two markets where we’re the leader globally.

We have the best properties in FDA Class II solutions for restorative dentistry where properties of our product are two to three times better than any competitor that is in the market.

So those are the areas where we are best in the world.

And we also have some other new products like our printed foam technology, which is fantastic.

No one else in the world does high-volume printed foams for production, and that allows you to really reduce the weight of products and use less material and produce on demand.

That’s a $120 billion market.

So that’s an area that’s growing quite well, and we expect to continue to take share in it.

We have great customers in the past quarter, companies like Ford and Eaton and Gulfstream Aerospace, Nissan, Oak Ridge National Labs, Serta, Stanford University, Saudi Aramco, Kennametal, Kimura, U.S. Navy.

We have large, enduring customers that are growing with us and are buying multiple machines, so we have good product market fit and segments that are relatively large.

We’re growing faster than our other competitors that are public.

Most of the legacy 3D printing businesses that are public today were focused on prototyping or tooling, which were, I would call, the markets of the past and they’re not growing very fast.

And what differentiates us is we’ve got a technology that’s much higher throughput with much better material properties, delivering better accuracy and tolerances in a setup where we’re enabling our customers to do things they couldn’t do before, and it’s competitive with conventional manufacturing.”

Industrial innovators are found throughout American manufacturing, and the best executives rise to lead their own company.

Industrial Innovator Josef Matosevic is the CEO of Helios Technologies (HLIO)

Josef Matosevic, CEO, Helios Technologies (HLIO)

Josef Matosevic joined Helios Technologies Inc. in June 2020.

Prior to joining the company, he had served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Welbilt, Inc. (NYSE:WBT), a global manufacturer of commercial foodservice equipment, since August 2015.

Mr. Matosevic also served as interim President and CEO from August through November 2018. Previously, he held the role of Senior Vice President of Global Operational Excellence at The Manitowoc Company, Inc. (NYSE:MTW), a world leading provider of engineered lifting solutions, from 2014 to 2015, and as Executive Vice President of Global Operations from 2012 to 2014.

Prior to joining MTW, Mr. Matosevic served in various executive positions with Oshkosh Corporation (NYSE:OSK), a designer, manufacturer and marketer of a broad range of specialty vehicles and vehicle bodies, from 2007 through 2012.

“If you just go to a John Deere or a CNH tractor and look at how their ag equipment is operating, all the hydraulics and the couplings that lift a shovel or that do mining or digging, this is where our product comes into play in hydraulics.

Or even if you go to the Magic Kingdom in the world of Disney and you have any application that raises up in the air that requires hydraulics, we participate in that area as well, in the hydraulic segment and electronics.

So we supply a lot of products to both manufacturers.

And we supply the controls, not just the electronic display, but also the PDM and the sensors.

So you can control the entire functionality of a Nautique Boat for example, through our application, if it’s starting the engine, if it’s filling the ballast tanks, if it’s enabling the radio or whatever it may be.

So those are a couple of markets that we serve…”

The large United States Department of Defense budget also powers industrial innovators.

Industrial innovator Eric M. DeMarco is President and Chief Executive Officer of Kratos Defense & Security Solutions (KTOS)

Eric M. DeMarco, President and Chief Executive Officer of Kratos Defense & Security Solutions (KTOS)

Eric M. DeMarco is President and Chief Executive Officer of Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. (NASDAQ:KTOS).

Mr. DeMarco joined the company in November 2003 when it was Wireless Facilities, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFII), a commercial wireless communications system infrastructure provider, as President and Chief Operating Officer, and he assumed the role of CEO in April 2004.

Since joining the company, Mr. DeMarco has been instrumental in leading the company’s efforts to successfully transition from a commercial communication business via sale and disposition of assets, to build and grow, both organically and through strategic acquisition, a leading national-security-focused technology, product and systems provider for the U.S. and its allies.

Today, Kratos is recognized as an industry-leading provider of high-performance, jet-powered unmanned aerial drone systems, space and satellite communications, microwave electronics, rocket systems for missile defense and hypersonic programs and C5ISR.

Prior to Kratos, Mr. DeMarco was the President and Chief Operating Officer of the Titan Corporation, which was later acquired by L-3.

“Probably most importantly to what you referenced that we chatted about a few years ago, is the Skyborg program, with the Air Force.

In the last couple of months in congressional testimony, it was announced that the Skyborg initiative will become a program of record in 2023 and certain of our jet drones, including Kratos’ Valkyrie drone, falls under the Skyborg program right now.

So that’s very, very exciting.

Related to that, another Air Force Vanguard program, in addition to the Skyborg program, with Vanguard program meaning it’s supposed to be rapidly moved from initiative to program of record.

Another one called Golden Horde, which has to do with swarming drones and swarming munitions, has also been announced to become a program of record in 2023.

And we believe that’s going to be beneficial not only for our unmanned systems in our drone business, but also for our turbine technology business, where we are building engines, very small turbo jets and turbo fans for powered munitions and for jet drones.

Since we last spoke to you, those initiatives, those two Vanguard initiatives, the Skyborg Vanguard initiative and Golden Horde, have now both been publicly announced and acknowledged to become programs of record next year…

We’ve recently signed some contracts with companies in the sugar beet industry.

It is out on these co-ops with hundreds, thousands of acres of harvesting, unmanned trucks transporting to the processing site or the mill to process what is being harvested.

We haven’t emphasized it because it wasn’t quite ready for prime time, but as I said we are now signing contracts and I think over the next few years, at $100,000 and $200,000 per applique kit, if we over the next few years get 5000 trucks, that is a big number.”

Industrial innovator John C. Rood is Momentus Inc.’s Chief Executive Officer, President and Chairman of its Board of Directors.

John C. Rood, Chief Executive Officer, President and Chairman of its Board of Directors, Momentus Inc. (MNTS)

John C. Rood is Momentus Inc.’s Chief Executive Officer, President and Chairman of its Board of Directors.  This industrial innovator is all in on developing new products for the specialized extraterrestrial industrial sector.

“…we’re working on and plan to have a reusable version of Vigoride.

When you get to reusability, the system will stay in space, and you’ll just send it the cargo and resupply the fuel, which you can then meet in space, refuel yourself, then get the cargo and take it to the destinations you want.

But you can also do things like change the position of satellites, where they can perform a mission for a period of time in one area, you can move them to another, you can repair them and can provide refueling services.

Today, most satellites are still working at the end of their useful life.

They just run out of fuel, so it’s the equivalent of the car runs out of gas at some point and you abandon the car on the road, or in this case in space.

If you have the ability to refuel them, then this will open up a whole new set of opportunities for people in space.

And then the other part is, at some point, we’re going to put so much debris and so many items up in space. This is untenable.

You’re going to need the ability to remove debris or consolidate it as a bare minimum in space.

One of the things that we’re working on as well to give the same orbital transfer vehicle the ability to come up alongside debris, or get rockets or old satellites that have run out of fuel, and refuel and tug them to a new destination, or move them back into the Earth’s atmosphere to burn up.”

Many American industrial innovators move to the United States to pursue their dreams.

Industrial Innovator John R. Scannell is Chairman and CEO of Moog Inc. (MOG.A) (MOG)

John R. Scannell, Chairman and CEO, Moog Inc. (MOG.A)

John R. Scannell is Chairman and CEO of Moog Inc.  He is also leading industrial innovation in the orbital supply chain.

Mr. Scannell joined Moog in 1990 as an Engineering Manager of Moog Ireland and later moved to Germany to become Operations Manager of Moog GmbH.

In 1999, he became the General Manager of Moog Ireland, and in 2003 moved to the Aircraft Group in East Aurora, New York, as the Boeing 787 Program Manager.

He was named Director of Contracts and Pricing in 2005.

Mr. Scannell was elected Vice President of the Company in 2005 and Chief Financial Officer in 2007, a position he held until December 2, 2010, at which time he was elected President and Chief Operating Officer.

In addition to an MBA from The Harvard Business School, Mr. Scannell holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering from University College Cork, Ireland.

“We are all over the NASA Artemis I launch that’s about to happen.

We’ve been on the Space Shuttle, Mars landers, and International Space Station.

So that just gives you a sense of “performance really matters”; it’s in highly critical applications, but it’s also in military jets where we control the surfaces on the wings and the tail that moves the jet.

On commercial airplanes, we do flight-critical systems.

In other words, if our systems fail, it’s a very bad day.

It’s this idea of performance really matters that translates to the idea that the cost of failure is far higher than the cost of acquisition.

That cost of failure could be life or it could be just very expensive.

For instance, we have products that steer a drill bit on offshore oil rigs.

If the drill bit fails, it’s very expensive to take the oil rig down for a day.

The cost of failure is very high in some form or other, either monetary or in terms of injury or potentially life. We’re at the high-end.”

Industrial innovator Marc Bell is the Co-Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of Terran Orbital (LLAP)

Marc Bell, Co-Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer, Terran Orbital (LLAP)

Marc Bell is the Co-Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of Terran Orbital Corp., a leading manufacturer of satellites primarily serving the United States and Allied aerospace and defense industries.

Mr. Bell is an accomplished entrepreneur with a wide-spanning career.

In 2008, Mr. Bell took a $250 million SPAC public, acquiring startup Armour Residential REIT (NYSE:ARR). Armour today holds over $8 billion worth of mortgage-backed securities in its portfolio.

“We’ve carved out a niche with satellites 500 kilograms and under and we’re also the folks that invented the CubeSat, so we started the SmallSat revolution over a decade ago. All the SmallSats you see today were based on our initial technology…

At the end of the day, it’s cheaper to get there from a ride perspective.

The downside is you have to replenish them every five years.

The plus side is the cost is a fraction.

Even if you have to replace the satellite every five years, it’s still phenomenally cheaper than building one geosynchronous satellite, and you continue to refresh your technology.

We can design, build, and launch a satellite while the current model iPhone is still being made. And geosynchronous satellites, you know these things could be the size of houses and they take a decade to build and launch.”

Get the complete interviews with all of these industrial innovators, and more, exclusively in the Wall Street Transcript.