It’s pre-dawn in upstate New York. A 10-year-old boy rolls out of bed to begin his day. But he’s not getting ready for school, not yet. Instead, he’s walking over to the farm next door. He’s going to milk the cows. Then, he’ll get on a truck and help deliver their produce door-to-door. Once he’s finished, he’ll attend a full day of school.
He’s working every morning to help supplement the essentials his parents work so hard to provide. But with each early morning, he’s learning the essential values of hard work, tenacity, and entrepreneurism that will provide the bedrock for a 20-year career at GE, a visionary startup called Northstar Technologies, and, eventually, an essential role as President of API.
1) What was your childhood like?
I was raised in upstate New
York, Albany area, having an older and a younger sister. My parents both worked
multiple jobs, which provided a strong blue-collar work ethic. To this day, I
believe this was the greatest legacy they could have provided their children.
Never having extra money for vacations or special needs in my youth, starting
at age 10 I got a job on a milk farm adjacent to our home, milking cows at 5am
and delivering milk, eggs and butter door-to-door on the farmer’s truck. I
earned money for the extras my parents could not provide, and I have embraced that
mindset and passed it on to my family.
So, recently at a family dinner, my (now) adult children were laughing and carrying on about “Dad’s Quirky Rules” and asking me why they all four of them had to wake at 5am every day during High School to deliver Newspapers. My answer was, “because we didn’t own COWS!” They obviously didn’t get it.
2) Who was a hero to you growing up? Why?
My Dad was my hero to me growing up. A decorated World War II veteran and Marine Drill Instructor, he always carried himself with pride and humility. The most honest person I have ever known. My other hero was my mother. She was the “driver” and the “bark” in our household, who was probably the hardest on me as the only son. She taught me that nothing was impossible, nor too big to achieve if the desire, dedication and belief is there. Tenacity is one of my greatest virtues. Both my parents, although strapped with limited earning power, saw the value in education and tenaciously achieved their dream of having all their children graduate from colleges and universities.
3) What are your hobbies?
Spending quality time with my wife of 45 years, my family, including 4 children and 9 grand children, brings me absolute joy. I also have a desire to build a log home remotely in nature someday and begin doing some creative writing in that solitude. I’ve been known to swing a golf club on special occasions; thank goodness there are handicaps in golf.
4) How did you end up in metrology?
In 1990, I left General Electric after an excellent 20-year career in manufacturing, engineering and general management. I wanted to start my own industrial company. So, I founded a very successful startup company named Northstar Technologies specializing in breakthrough speed control systems for process industries and recreational sports. Northstar had meteoric growth and was purchased by the Danaher Corporation in 2001. The CEO of Danaher asked me to join Danaher and manage one of their many companies. As President of M&M Precision, Inc., I was able to improve the profitability of the business and prepare it to be sold by Danaher. I did that for two years leading the business, developing new Metrology equipment, improving manufacturing processes, and exposing myself to precision dimensional measurement associated with “gears” used in automotive and transportation equipment. During that time, I was introduced to API. M&M was purchasing precision tactile probes from API for use on their Precision Gear Checking Equipment.
5) How did you come to be at API?
API was one of our suppliers at M&M Precision, and I was visited by Dr. Kam Lau, API’s President & CEO. During that meeting, Kam and I naturally connected regarding our mutual entrepreneurial spirit and drive. He commented that when my non-compete agreement ended at Danaher, would I like to come over to Rockville, MD and help him run his company? So, in 2003, I joined API as the COO, and in 2010, I was promoted to President.
6) What is your role and responsibilities with API?
As President at API, my roles and responsibilities with the company are focused in the execution of the Strategic Plan across all functions of the business. My daily emphasis is in maximizing alignment and transparency of the organization to that Strategic Plan. Setting goals and key metrics with my management staff that transcend down into the organization is most important while monitoring daily performance. This requires a leader to always be engaged and always open for dialogue.
Besides the day-to-day Management of our enterprise, like driving a car, one must always possess a vision of what’s ahead. Looking at technology, evaluating geo-political decisions and their effects on global regions of the world, or sitting and interviewing young promising engineers for employment fill up my days with information that is relative to steering API down this road to success.
7) What sets API apart from other metrology companies in your mind?
API once was the best kept secret in the industry, which I am working very hard to change daily. Without question, API is the most innovative dimensional Metrology company in the world. The quality of our products has become rock-solid while I have molded our culture to be more customer-centric in everything we do. In fact, I’ve adopted the term “Globally Local” to emphasize how our enterprise has become closer to our customers, now providing service and support on four continents worldwide. We are also focused within Regions of the world geographically to prioritize targeted industries of API with more timely service and support.
API is a sensor company. I tell this to people, and they don’t understand. You see, dimensional Metrology starts with having the ability to collect data through sensors. I consider a laser tracker, or precision interferometer API manufactures today, as just a sensor. The key to being an innovation leader is in the R&D of the sensor. Listening to the market requirements and needs of your customer and having the ability to translate those needs with research scientists and engineers into unique, novel sensor designs is essential. This is API’s life-blood and what has been the driving force since day one.
Speed, innovation, and continuous process improvement in everything we do daily distinguishes API from other Metrology companies in my mind.
8) What API Product or Service are you most excited to tell people about?
The Financial Crisis of ten years ago forever changed the world of manufacturing and spurred a need for automation. What the industry finally realized was the need to become lean and utilize more automated, flexible manufacturing processes, including automated inspection. This coupled with the digital twin model or the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) also drove in process quality control (IPQC) to be used throughout the manufacturing process. This need for accurate dimensional data called for more sensors and effectively demanding dimensional Metrology on each part produced in the process.
So where does API fit in this equation? Well, API offers fully automated solutions with a variety of sensors and software that exactly fit this demand for more IPQC. For over 30 years, API has been making the sensors to show machines and robot users just how accurate these machines are for producing parts. Now, these machine builders are using API sensors to link machine and robot performance across this digital twin model in their factories. Finally, the manufacturing world is bringing API’s vision to reality!
9) What about API’s future that excites you?
What I’m most excited about is the work our research scientists and engineers are doing at Headquarters in Rockville, MD. There’s a saying about fine wine, “you don’t serve fine wine until it’s time.” Obviously, I can’t comment on the technology breakthroughs coming, but I assure everyone, what API has fermenting in its engineering labs is game-changing to industry. Soon, all of industry will have a taste of API’s “fine wine.”
I’ve seen API make great strides since joining this company in 2003. Our products are mature but fresh to market needs, and our services are exceptional and have expanded worldwide.
The most exciting thing to me is the quality improvement I’ve seen in our people. They are highly motivated, customer-centric, and know their jobs very well. We are working very hard as a team to bring new and exciting technologies to market that will benefit and enhance our customers’ ability to improve their manufacturing processes.
I’m very excited for the future of API.
10) What does “Nothing Beyond Measure” mean to you?
You know, when our team presented this slogan to me, I originally didn’t like it. It wasn’t until I pushed back and deeply thought about its meaning, referencing the 30+ years that API has been doing business. All those years of listening to customers, understanding dimensional Metrology challenges, and formulating new sensor technology breakthroughs to support our customers and industry partners was suddenly simplified in 3 words.
NOTHING BEYOND MEASURE represents the heritage of API, a leading dimensional Metrology company that contributes every day to folks around the world providing measurement solutions, making this world a better place to live. I’m proud of this, and I’m proud of our most important resource at API, our people who I surround myself with every day.