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|Archives - October 2008|
|Wednesday, October 01, 2008|
How Flir came back from the brink of bankruptcy to become a $4.3 billion company that has left its competition in the dust.
BY ABRAHAM HYATT
March 1, 2000, was a cold, windy, overcast day in Portland. It had rained the day before and more rain was forecast for the weekend. Around the country — in Oregon and Massachusetts and Minnesota and New York — Flir corporate board members were picking up their phones and dialing into an emergency conference call.
The story of its resurrection is, according to current CEO Earl Lewis, simple: Flir aggressively focused on fixing basic problems like debt, cash flow and too much inventory.
To say that infrared cameras “see” heat is an oversimplification. They actually detect energy in the electromagnetic field that atoms give off. In other words, infrared technology can show the difference between minus 20 degrees and minus 30 degrees as well as it can spot a person on a battlefield in the blackest night. Or a body in a smoke-filled room during a house fire. Or a bad electrical connection in a wall. Or even, according to some studies, breast cancer.
Flir was founded by a Portland State University professor in 1978 and spent the first few decades of its life in the Oregon Business Park in Southwest Portland. The name is pronounced “fleer” and stands for “forward looking infrared.” Its first infrared camera system was a black box about the size of a lunch pail. The stabilizing element of the optical system was cooled with liquid nitrogen that had to be poured in through a hole in the top of the box.
He was right — very right. Eight years later Lewis, 64, says he knew the odds of survival were good if the company was able to address its basic weaknesses.
“Underneath this very difficult series of events, there was a good company. I’ve seen companies come out of that before with the right kind of guidance,” he says. “I was naive in thinking we could do it quicker, but I did feel the business was a good solid business underneath some bad decisions. And so we went to work on it.”
Government contracts have always been Flir’s bread and butter, making up between 40% and 50% of the company’s business each year. As the years have gone by, those numbers have grown dramatically: the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Department of Defense, Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Marines, U.S. Special Operations Command, United Arab Emirates, Colombian Ministry of Defense, Mexican Navy, Royal Danish Air Force, Greece’s Hellenic Port Police, Canadian Department of National Defense, Japanese National Police Agency, Republic of Korea.
Back in 2001, the contract price tags were in single-digit million-dollar range. Year after year that’s changed. This year, between January and August, Flir announced $429 million in new contracts and another $358 million in contract extensions.
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
BY KIM MOORE
Striving for social equity is the mission of many nonprofits, and this year’s 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon survey shows employees are most satisfied with their organizations’ fair treatment of differing racial, gender, disability, age and economic groups. But as a national discourse about racial discrimination and equity for low-income groups takes center stage, data show Oregon’s 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For still need to make progress on addressing these issues within their own organizations.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY LINDA WESTON
In 1996, after a 17-year career in the destination marketing industry, where I gained national standing as the CEO of the Convention & Visitors Association of Lane County, I was recruited by the founders of a new professional basketball league for women. The American Basketball League (ABL) hoped to leverage the success of the 1996 USA women’s national team at the Atlanta Olympics — much like USA Soccer is now leveraging the U.S. Women’s National Team’s victory in the World Cup. The ABL wanted a team in Portland, and they wanted me to be its general manager.
Monday, September 28, 2015
BY BEN WATERHOUSE
How Portland's Garden Bar plans to become the Starbucks of salad.
Monday, September 28, 2015
BY TIM NEVILLE
Betty Roppe steers Prineville into the future.
Thursday, August 20, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER
Ask any college student: Textbook prices have skyrocketed out of control. Online education startup Lumen Learning aims to bring them down to earth.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE
Oregon is home to an abundance of gritty warehouses reborn as trendy office spaces, as well as crafty hipsters turned entrepreneurs. Does the combination yield an equally bounteous office products sector? Not so much. Occupying the limited desk jockey space are Field Notes, a spinoff of Portland’s Draplin Design Company, and Schuttenworks, known for whittling Apple device stands. For a full complement of keyboard trays, docking stations and mouse pads, check out the GroveMade line, guaranteed to boost the cachet of even the lowliest cubicle drone.
Thursday, August 13, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
Portland-based startup ImpactFlow recently announced a $5.7 million funding round. CEO and co-founder Tyler Foreman talks about matching businesses with nonprofits, his time at Intel and the changing face of philanthropy.
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Wage gaps and workforce shortages are threatening the quality of care and supports to Oregonians with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Who’s caring for those who care for our most vulnerable residents?
Engaging employees and customers along the way.
After first visiting as tourists, entrepreneurs relocate to Oregon and spur economic growth.
Are you planning a meeting, party, gala, fundraiser, holiday party, golf tournament, retirement party, team building or birthday? You won’t want to miss this show to get hundreds of great ideas!
Promoting from within its own ranks, PacificSource Health Plans has tapped Tony Kopki to head its commercial lines of business in Oregon, Idaho and Montana. In his new role as Vice President of Commercial Programs, Kopki will provide strategic, product and market leadership for PacificSource’s commercial programs.
Thomson brings 25 years of healthcare experience in provider relations, sales, marketing and communications.