When Dan Coker accepted the position of vice president of sales and marketing at Amerigon, Inc., the company wasn’t sure it had enough cash for payroll, it had a weak business plan, a weak balance sheet, a dead-end vision and a product too revolutionary for its time. And yet, not surprisingly, Coker had turned down the job several times before.
But if there’s one thing Coker is good at, it is knowing when to take risks and when to step outside of his comfort zone.
Now, 14 years later, Coker is president and CEO of Amerigon, the leading supplier of thermo-electric-based products to the automotive market, which has seen significant growth under his leadership.
So how did he get Amerigon to where it is today?
Coker helped Amerigon launch its patent of the Climate Control Seat. At first, customers weren’t buying the idea of installing temperature-changing seats in vehicles. Coker’s persuasion paid off as he convinced Toyota to use the Climate Control Seat in the Lexus brand and fund the product production.
After the first success, Coker led the company’s focus of marrying the product with high-end vehicles. The idea backfired when attempts to convince other car manufacturers failed. Coker knew if the Climate Control Seat was going to take off, Amerigon had to better understand its customers’ needs. Coker took advice from a friend, a Ford employee, and Amerigon refocused its sales efforts.
In 2000, climate-control seating was launched in Lexus vehicles and the Lincoln Navigator. Today, the product is used in 44 different platforms.
But every good entrepreneur knows his or her product must evolve to see continual success.
Amerigon is focused on several green initiatives. Originally created for occupant comfort, automotive manufacturers are now studying the role that Climate Control Seat systems may play in decreasing carbon dioxide emissions.
How to reach: Amerigon, Inc., (248) 504-0500 or www.amerigon.com