Cold Jet LLC Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2009

Winner

Manufacturing

Throughout his life, Cold Jet LLC’s Gene Cooke has risen to the challenge of creating his own success and thinking outside the box. It is a skill that served Cooke well upon rising to the company’s top post of president and CEO a decade ago.

Founded in 1986, Cold Jet’s mission was to create a dry ice blasting technology that would allow the aviation industry to remove aircraft paint in an efficient, safe and environmentally responsible way. The U.S. Air Force was so impressed with the new technology that it gave the young company a $6 million contract. But promise soon gave way to problems as Cold Jet’s leaders found the process worked well for heavy-duty military aircraft but was harmful to less-sturdy civilian aircraft.

Cooke believed in the technology, but the road to modifying the product for civilian aircraft was bumpy. The company nearly bankrupted itself in the process, needing more than $20 million from venture capitalists to keep Cold Jet afloat while the modified product was perfected and rolled out.

Cooke nearly left the company before agreeing to become president and CEO in 1999. When he accepted the top post, he knew he now had a marketable product, but he needed to fix the company’s culture, which had been damaged by years of losing money.

Once he started conveying his belief in Cold Jet’s product and profitability to the company’s employees, he started to create a positive, success-driven work environment throughout Cold Jet. He refocused employees on the company’s cash flow, not just the bottom-line numbers.

As a result, Cooke has been able to harness the company’s positive momentum and use it to promote growth. Prior to Cooke’s leadership, the company did not achieve a single profitable quarter. Now, the company shows increasing profits year after year.

How to reach: Cold Jet LLC, (513) 831-3211 or www.coldjet.com