Always adjusting Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2010
Finalist

Since running a hay crew at age 15, Kent Schien knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur. But he knew it was more than a goal of business ownership; it also required selflessness.

Schien kept that in mind when he penned a business plan and committed his own funds in 1996, starting Innoventor Inc. in his basement. As CEO, he didn’t want an industry-specific engineering firm; he wanted a “Thomas Alva Edison sort of company” built on forward thinking, innovation and invention.

His plan laid out three types of work: engineering services and fully integrated projects and products. That focus has helped the company thrive through economic downturns while necessitating flexibility.

Schien learned that to sustain healthy growth in tough times, he must diversify among multiple markets. So, for example, when fully integrated project budgets shut down in aerospace and defense, he dove into the engineering service sector. A small contract grew into a long-term, multimillion dollar service arrangement.

Year-over-year revenue growth has validated Schien’s strategy. And he’s looking to the future with a list of specific industries to focus on and a commitment to expand production and manufacturing capabilities while identifying new opportunities, balancing his business portfolio, competing fiercely and executing flawlessly.

Schien doesn’t just foster teamwork within his company, where his all-for-one attitude and consistent, confident vision create stability for employees. He also encourages community development. About 85 percent of his employees volunteer for organizations, such as local food banks, YWCA, United Way and Easter Seals — where Schien served as a Missouri State Board member and, in 2008, was selected for the international board of directors. He also serves on the board of trustees for St. Louis Science Center

Innoventor created continuing education and educational assistance programs to support future engineers in the community.

How to reach: Innoventor Inc., (314) 785-0900 or www.innoventor.net