Duluth, Minn. I grew up in North Dakota. I lost my parents when I was 5 and 6, respectively, and there have been some people who paid attention to me and demanded a lot of me and life got good once I got over being bitter about not having parents. Life went on.
Electrical engineering degree, North Dakota State University; graduate work, Iowa State University; master’s work, University of Iowa
I was 21 years and one month old when I had my bachelor’s degree and I went to a company then called Collins Radio in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Myself and a small team of guys built the radio that brought back the speech, ‘One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.’ Fame is fleeting, and most people don’t even know that speech happened anymore, but I kind of hold that one dear. It was a great experience. And I got to meet an astronaut or two.
Greatest business challenge:
I will always argue with myself whether I should have put outside financing into this place early in the life of the company. Would it be three times the size today if I had put outside financing into it to get it jump-started? I’ll always wonder about that. I don’t know the answer.
I was an intimidated 27-year-old I’ll remember this as long as I live and a gentleman running Dow Chemical said to me, ‘The day before you quit your job to start a company, your chances of success are maybe 30 or 40 percent. The day after you quit your job to go start a business, your chances of success are 60 or 70 percent simply because you’ve burned your bridges and you’re not looking back.’ I just thought that was some of the best advice I’d ever been given.