Innovation through diversity is a path to success for Oklahoma
By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2016, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
As I’ve been writing for the last few weeks, there are many ways Oklahoma companies can engage to broaden and diversify the innovation economy of Oklahoma.
People are interested in startup companies. The technologies are cool. Entrepreneurs are engaging. And instinctively, most of us know that remarkable things can and do happen when a passionate person with a great idea and a sense of the market starts a new company.
I began this series with Kimray Inc., the world-class manufacturer of control equipment for the oil and gas industry. By any measure, Kimray is a great company, and it has been for a long time. The company posted a video this week on its website entitled “History Matters.” This video talks about how, starting back in 1948, Kimray revolutionized the gas pressure regulation industry with its back-pressure regulator.
Kimray has a stated goal of doubling in size to become a billion-dollar company, and the way its leaders plan to do that is by adding “something else.”
As the oil and gas industry was being squeezed these last few years and shrinking in overall development dollars, Kimray was investing, establishing the ultimate hedge against low commodity prices by creating a whole second side to the business that won’t necessarily be about gas and oil.
Thomas Hill, CEO of Kimray, has cast a vision of spinouts, acquisitions, strategic partnerships and new inventions; Kimray already has examples of diverse new businesses producing revenue in less than a couple of years.
InPrint Printhouse was the in-house print shop for Kimray for 35 years; now it’s a spinout generating revenue. 48 Automation, another new Kimray business with a name that’s a tip of the hat to Kimray’s founding year, grew out of a strategic partnership with FANUC industrial robots. As an FANUC authorized integrator, 48 Automation does everything required for its customers to take a robot from the box and get it working in the factory.
Another reflection of Kimray’s heritage is the company’s commitment to staying connected with the inventors and makers of Oklahoma.
“Our founder, Garman Kimmell, was an inventor and entrepreneur; we are very passionate about those types of opportunities,” said Matt Palmer, Kimray director of mergers and acquisitions. “You never know where the next big idea will come from, and you never know what that inventor or entrepreneur will need. It might be capital, human resources, access to a machine, to an industry expert, or something else.”
Kimray’s plan is a veritable trifecta of innovation. It’s a model that more Oklahoma companies could adopt.
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 support 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.