Vertigo, Inc. owners Glen Brown and Roy Haggard have transformed their small engineering company into a burgeoning manufacturing business with the help of Inland Empire SCORE Mentor Nary Kanoor.
In 2003, Cal Tech grad and company founder Glen Brown turned to his business partner, designer, and inventor, Roy Haggard, with a concept for developing some of the 16 patents and the vast array of intellectual property the two engineers had developed in their 17 years together.
Their small consulting and prototyping company, headquartered at Skylark Airport in Lake Elsinore, CA, was well known and highly respected around the world for its ability to solve seemingly intractable engineering problems – from capturing NASA’s Genesis spacecraft in mid-air after its fiery entry into the Earth’s atmosphere to building inflatable fabric “AirBeams” capable of supporting a 150-foot-long portable aircraft hangar.
Glen’s concept was to license their GPS guidance-and-control technology to a company that would build, market, and sell the world’s first affordable autopilot for military cargo parachutes. No sooner was the ink dry on Vertigo’s first corporate joint venture than they won the largest contract in their history to design and build 55 AirBeam aircraft maintenance hangars for the U.S. Air Force.
Suddenly, these two talented engineers were faced with the prospect of their friendly little engineering firm doubling in size every three to four years and changing overnight from a rapid-prototyping house to a full-fledged production facility. They called SCORE for help.
Just 12 months after that first call to SCORE, Vertigo completely reconfigured its corporate structure, hiring a new general manager and adding a number of outside directors to its board. They are getting ready to set up a dedicated factory for the manufacture of their patented AirBeams, and the company now has the strategic plan in place that will allow it to manage the kind of sustained growth that Glen and Roy could only have dreamed of 20 years ago.
These changes have had the added benefit of allowing Vertigo’s talented owners to step away from the day-to-day management of their company and get back to doing the things that led to their initial success – solving challenging technical problems that add value to what is now a rapidly growing product base.
Owner Glen Brown says, “Here we were, thinking we were dealing with the kind of corporate challenges that no one could understand. In comes Nary and within a couple of hours it’s as if he’s known Roy and me all our lives.”
Glen adds, “He certainly helped us see outside ourselves and look at our company with fresh eyes. We’re very appreciative of Nary’s advice and counsel, and we are certain that we wouldn’t have reinvented ourselves so quickly, if at all, without his involvement.”
Glen says, “We’re very appreciative of SCORE Mentor Nary Kanoor’s advice and counsel, and we are certain that we wouldn’t have reinvented ourselves so quickly, if at all, without his involvement.”
In March 2005, seeking practical advice from someone who had “been there and done that,” Glen and Roy turned to their local SCORE chapter. They found Nary Kanoor, a retired software executive who had piloted several companies through the difficult waters of transitioning from a small founder/owner-managed company. Nary proposed a five-phase plan, starting with the most basic of activities–developing corporate mission and vision statements for this company in transition.