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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.
Saturday, December 13, 2014
The president of LaPorte & Associates lets us in on his day-to-day life.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:
The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace.
Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.
This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay.
Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.
New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”
That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!
Thursday, November 20, 2014
BY OB STAFF
Farmers, grocery stores and food processors cash in on kale.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY
Bob Dethlefs, CEO of Evanta, balances work and play.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JOE ROJAS-BURKE
Bans on genetically modified crops create uncertainty for farmers.
Monday, November 10, 2014
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR
A market for low-carbon transportation fuels has a chance to flourish in Oregon if regulators adopt the second phase of the state’s Clean Fuels Program.
Saturday, December 13, 2014
Seven tidbits of information from an agency partner and co-founder of Waggener Edstrom in Lake Oswego.
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Is your business ready to join us in the call for action? This opening panel includes Oregon businesses who will discuss why they signed the Oregon Climate Declaration, the investments they are making to reduce carbon emissions, and how their actions are affecting their companies.
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Port of Morrow's business-ready attitude has a surprising global impact.
Through its support of the arts, the Cultural Trust is strengthening the business community.
Heed the morals of these seminal holiday stories in your everyday life.
Amy will practice in the firm's Business, Real Estate, and Tax practice groups.
While the Bend City Council ultimately upheld the approval which enables OSU-Cascades to move forward with the 10 acre site, it did also thoughtfully consider the nature of its code requirements, resident concerns and OSU-Cascade’s efforts and suggestions and crafted conditions of approval to address potential impacts of the site in the area.