Nautel Named One of The Top Fastest Growing Companies

Progress Magazine, November 2012 (Vol 19 No 6)

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They span industry sectors and they’re selling in four corners of the globe. They’re customer-driven, new-market savvy, and setting the pace for the region. They’re established ventures and nimble outfits led by smart young people, proving that a focused strategy results in red-hot growth rates no matter what size the operation. They’re Atlantic Canada’s Fastest Growing Companies of 2012. For words of wisdom, lessons learned, and opportunities seized by category leaders, read on…


When Times are Good

By pushing boundaries, Nautel has become one of the world’s largest broadcast-transmitter manufacturers
by Aimee Loreface Mains

What happens when a workplace functions like a well-nurtured community? A place where managers are given more authority and people are hired based on how they fit “culturally?” A place where those who join the team develop relationships built on fairness and communication? Peter Conlon describes his organization as a place where old styles mesh with new, resulting in “the beautiful merging of institutional memory with new ways and different perspectives.”

It may sound like a corporate utopia and it is, according to the president and CEO of Nautel, an apt description of his rural Nova Scotia-based organization—and what separates it from the rest. “It’s all about the people,” says Conlon. “We’re able to compete against companies much larger than us and we do that exceptionally well.”

Re-energized by Conlon more than six years ago, the 43-year old broadcast-transmitter manufacturer has grown into one of the world’s largest. With 210 full-time employees based in Atlantic Canada and two U.S. locations, Nautel deploys more than 11,000 transmitters in more than 177 countries. “I entered the picture at a fascinating time,” says Conlon. “The company had all of the potential you could ask for, and it was lying fallow.”

Nautel runs on a philosophy that no job is too small or too ambitious to be explored. Keeping a high degree of communications with customers is critical, as is introducing new technology to them before they demand it. “By talking to customers, we see patterns of problems and opportunities in the marketplace and develop products to answer those problems,” says Conlon. “We’re pushing the boundaries of what our products can do.”

Conlon offers this list of tips for other entrepreneurs: overcome fear, be bold, and be patient. You have to ask yourself, “Have I tried hard enough? Is it time to give up?” Look for a mentor and ask, “Am I there?” and “Is it time to cut bait?” Using Nautel as an example, one could be advised to innovate when times are good rather than during a lull. “Good gross margins hide a multitude of sins,” says Conlon. “It’s hard to innovate when times are good. There’s no pressure—and that’s the best time, because competitors don’t expect it.”

Times were good last year, when Nautel’s revenue was just under $50 million, up more than $10 million from the previous year. Earlier this year Nautel announced that it would be entering the digital-TV transmitter market and introduced its first TV product line at an international trade show for leading electronic-media companies in Amsterdam in September. It posed a threat to competitors, who dropped by to express their concern.

“The future looks very interesting and favourable,” says Conlon, citing the positive response to the new TV product. This development follows Nautel’s growth plan to introduce new products, target the existing customer base, and expand the sales force. “It’s new and challenging territory for Nautel, but an opportunity for the whole team to feel ownership when success comes knocking,” says Conlon. “I’m confident it will.”

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