#pAutomator-Matt Olin, CEO of Sierra Instruments
Hey everyone! The next #pAutomator interview is here. This time, we have Matt Olin from Sierra Instruments. in 2003 Matt took over the company and he has acted as CEO ever since. He shares his experience and vision for his company and in some of the innovations, they will offer in the near future.
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Thanks for joining us today. Can you tell us more about how you became the CEO of Sierra Instruments?
I pursued an MBA from the University of San Diego, but since childhood, I believed I’d take over my father’s business. I worked in different teams in the company, from operations to sales and marketing – even mopping the floors! At 33, I was ready, although my father thought I was too young. He founded the company when he was 33, so he came around. I’ve been the CEO ever since, and that was in 2003.
At Sierra, we follow my father’s legacy. We’re the only American flow company with the three big flow technologies – thermal, vortex, and ultrasonic. As a company, we value innovation above all, and the solutions we develop and offer represent that.
Can you share some milestones you achieved in the company?
In the earlier years, we reached our 800th series of analog mass controllers. This innovative product set the tone of how Sierra would work in the next 40 years.
In 2003, we expanded our company into China, an incredible challenge! But we succeeded with strong sales, engineering, and production in that region.
In 2007, we changed our customer acquisition process. We were among the first to use Google Adwords and search-engine marketing to reach new customers. This eye-opener helped us better serve our customers and deliver the right message.
Failing is a useful part of everyone’s career path, since it allows us to learn and grow. Can you share a failure with us? And what did you learn from it?
Our China operations makes a classic example for this. We had to learn to communicate and coordinate with people in an entirely different culture. This great experience strengthened our company and helped us become the global enterprise we are today.
We also experimented with certain technologies. For instance, we tried thermal flowmeters in certain liquids. We made them work, but they weren’t ideal. This drove us to work more on vortex and ultrasonic sensors. We also developed a concept in flow energy that’s a class of its own.
Digital disruption is challenging industries and companies in product development and customer interaction. How do you see Sierra coping with this?
This question brings me back to a meeting in 2007 with our sales team. I showed them my BlackBerry™ and told them that if they didn’t learn how to use this to connect to customers, they would not be able to deliver in the upcoming years.
Today, we watch how customers consume content and interact with information. For example, you at Visaya are offering an open platform where customers can find, analyze, and compare products. This kind of platform empowers customers to choose good solutions, but it also allows us to grow as a company. We look at feedback and reviews as opportunities to improve our products.
There’s a lot of hype around the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0. We believe in digitalization, but customers need to see the value and returns. What kind of value does Sierra Instruments offer here?
We’re hiring software engineers to develop products that allow customers to better use our sensor data, like the InnovaMass. It comes with our RAPTOR II operating system and integrates with our smart portal.
We’re a company that offers solutions that not only fit customer requirements but also deliver innovation that customers might not have thought possible.
Last question! How can universities and companies collaborate to prepare and attract young engineers to process automation?
It doesn’t matter what a company does or which industry you work for. People, especially the younger generation, want to work in organizations with purpose that value innovation and push boundaries.
If you’re a mechanical or electrical engineer, you need to understand how IoT and Industry 4.0 can change how companies like Sierra Instruments develop solutions.