Seeking new paths to grow Oklahoma’s companies, economy
By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
I’ve written more than once this year about how budget cuts and resource tradeoffs at the state legislature can put the innovation economy of Oklahoma at risk. I don’t like it, but I do understand the challenges. This state is always going to have to reconcile times of boom and bust until we reduce our collective dependence on oil and gas.
We need investment from the state, but we also need creative participation from everybody else. There are Oklahoma corporations, initiatives, and people who get that and are doing something.
One such business is Kimray, Inc., a world-class manufacturer of control equipment used extensively in oil and gas production around the globe. Kimray has been around for about 70 years; the firm is the gold standard in the oil industry when it comes to control equipment.
About 18 months ago, executive leadership at Kimray set forth a goal to become a billion-dollar company by 2030. They plan to continue with their traditional business aggressively, and to double the size of the company by creating another $500MM in revenue from “something else.”
“That was the beginning of us being different,” said Matt Palmer, Kimray director of mergers and acquisitions. “The downturn in oil and gas expedited the conversation. We are not moving away from the oil and gas part of our business, we are adding to it.”
Kimray is looking at new strategic partnerships, unexpected applications of technology, mergers and acquisitions, and, not only opportunities beyond oil and gas, but even beyond manufacturing.
“It requires people to think way outside of what we are used to,” Palmer said. “We are empowering our people to think about what we don’t know, to step into new possibilities and wander into new options.”
Palmer said that he expected it would take a while to get real possibilities to review, but it’s been a lot shorter than he expected. “Once we decided to take this leap, that we wanted to diversify, we shared that story with partnerships in the industry. It’s amazing how fast the opportunity has come.”
There’s something absolutely thrilling about an existing company like Kimray that’s been around for a long time, doing great work challenging its leaders to dream up additional options, to wonder what is possible, and then go after it.
Kimray is a remarkable example of a well-established industry leader adapting to a new era by engaging people and ideas within the organization.
Each of us—every person, every corporation, every elected official and public employee—should be asking ourselves, what can I do to help my department, my company, or the broader innovation economy of Oklahoma diversify and grow?
Did You Know:
The 2016 rate of new entrepreneurs in the U.S. is 330 of every 100,000 adults. That’s about a 15% increase over the last two years.
Read the story at The Oklahoman. (Requires subscription)
Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.