Three years ago, Michael Fielding excepted what he regards as a challenge of a lifetime. A trio of venture capital companies that controlled a small Toronto-based maker of flexible printed circuit boards needed a man who could left the company, Strataflex Corp., from the doldrums and turn it into an aggressive, fast-growing market leader.
Mr. Fielding quickly proved himself up to the task. Within a year, the money-losing company again turned a profit. It's workforce has since grown from 75 to 170 people, sales have tripled and average annual growth has been in the 50% range.
"What I saw was a company with great potential if we could just refocus its efforts, beef up its capabilities and make the shift from being opportunity driven to strategically driven," Mr. Fielding says.
In 2003, Mr. Fielding was an executive at a Burlington, Ontario, semiconductor company when he was approached by RBC Capital Partners, Roynat Capital and BDC, the controlling shareholders of Strataflex.
"Basically, the company was floundering," he says. "They asked me three things: Could the company be put back on its feet, could I come up with a strategic plan that would accomplish that and could I implement the plan?"
Mr. Fielding was brought in with the new chief financial officer, Dean Mastantuano. They recapitalize the balance sheet, upgraded the management team, beefed-up the company's technical base, focused on new programs with two existing customers in the defense industry and strengthened operations and quality.
With a surprisingly small amount of new capital and a very large amount of hard work, Strataflex began it's amazing turnaround.
Current plans call for maintaining that now well-established course. The company will expand its seven person sales staff to 12 next year. As new vertical markets where the company can dominate are defined, sales staff will go after them, creating new products to meet new needs.
"It has been three great years, "Mr. Fielding says. "But I have to figure this is just a start."