Third Decade: Scalability
In 2005, Sensor Technology’s largest oil & gas customer approached the company to request a significant production increase. At the time, this was 500 units per week and new demand would require 3,000. This problem was tackled later that year, when Niru and her university classmate Harvey hashed out a plan while they dished out Halloween candy. Both had fresh degrees in Geophysics, understood the customer’s application, and recognized the changes needed to ensure repeatability at such volume. The difficulty was twofold: volume of orders and physical capability.
There was simply not enough capacity with existing equipment and the current processes was too labour-intensive. Piezo ceramic and hydrophone production did not lend itself to purchase off-the-shelf equipment. Each production stage was analyzed, a new methodology was developed, and new equipment needed to be built. Capital investment alone would not be enough, so the company also hired new production workers. Training to undertake the intricate and skilled work began.
At that time, the oil and gas industry represented more than half of revenue. The company was healthy and growing, and it soon had an interested party offer to purchase. Eswar and Shashi entertained the proposal which would allow their retirement after almost 25 years in business. They asked their daughter Niru to become interim Operations Manager to help oversee the sale. Having grown up in the business, Niru agreed to join temporarily to help her family and stepped into the position in 2007. No one could have anticipated the fall of oil & gas in 2008, which forced the buyers to back out.
The crash had a significant impact on Sensor Technology – and it was at this time the decision was made to diversify and expand into other markets. Shashi and Eswar still planned to retire, so a new strategy was adopted to create a new management team with Niru at the helm. A five-year transitionary period began with a focus on business development, branching out into new industries and expanding product offerings.