When you get a
very specific system that fits into a specific telephone companys
office, what do you do when they stop all capital buying, perhaps
for some regulatory or financial requirement? The secret here is to
diversify. Bell South may be your customer this year, Korea, next
year. WILTRON prospered because it was international, always ready
for the next state or country to come on line
When WILTRON was founded it was one of perhaps 20 small electronics
companies in the field of measuring instruments. A few of them were
competitors of ours; most were making related instruments. I saw the
other company leaders and their new products at trade shows once or
twice a year. Thirty years later WILTRON was the only one left. About
half of the 20 companies were victims of Hewlett-Packard which targeted
their products, did a better design job and put them out of business.
Several companies went out of business because the owners died or
made really foolish mistakes. Several of the companies were able to
sell out for a few million dollars so the founders wound up with a
little nest egg. In these cases the company and its products usually
disappeared in a few years. The last sizable number of these companies
failed because they had been oriented to the high tech military market
which was greatly reduced at the end of the cold war with Russia.
Although WILTRON felt the loss of the military-related market, it
had diversified into the telecommunications market. Another reason
for its survival is that it took over the remaining military market
as other companies abandoned the field.
Here are the secrets of developing a 180- million-dollar company,
one that goes on to greater heights after its sale.
1. Use the best new product strategy to give the company the chance
2. Select employees using exams and friendly, informal interviews
to discover the applicants real interests.
3. Motivate employees by profit sharing bonus.
4. Indirectly motivate by company excursions, family picnics, Christmas
parties, employee publication.
5. Train employees to improve their immediate and long-range potential.
6. Plan for the right merger which will carry the company on to new
If I had to name two top secrets of the modest success I had, they
would be product strategy and, interestingly enough, good personal
assistants. I had the good fortune of brilliant, hardworking personal
assistants, who took care of secretarial work, but also served as
administrative assistants and department heads. To mention standouts
in the order of their appearance: Shirley Lindholm, Donna Scheel,
June Shaull and Deanna Martinez. Some very capable men filled out
the team: Duane Dunwoodie above all, the ill-fated Sam Cox, Bob Bathiany,
Mark Evans and others. These managers had enormous capacity and capability.
All I had to do was provide strategic thinking; I didnt have
to be present on a day-to-day basis. After the first six or seven
years of start-up of the company, I was able to devote half of my
time to other endeavors such as traveling abroad, studying French
and Spanish literature, and finally establishing my music conservatory.