Interview with Pelco CEO Dean Meyer

November 25, 2008 7:34:16 AM PST
A year after he joined the Valley's largest manufacturing company Pelco's CEO Dean Meyer is speaking publicly for the first time and he sat down first with Action News. If strength is in numbers, then Pelco is still going strong. Pelco is the worlds largest manufacturer of security cameras, protecting people and property in over a million locations worldwide. Over 2,000 employees work at the sprawling headquarters at Ashlan and Peach in Clovis. They've got their own license plates and full-service restaurant. And at the entrance, two dozen countries' flags symbolize sales centers worldwide. At the head of it all, new CEO Dean Meyer, who's still learning the ropes: "Very hands on and trying to not get in the way too much. But trying to understand and coach." Christine: "Are you suit and tie guy normally?" Dean: "No, no!"

The 49-year-old is leading Pelco through a time of huge transition. Pelco was sold in August 2007 to French conglomerate Schneider Electric. Just a few months later, Meyer took over for David McDonald, the name and face of the company for 20 years. Dean: "He [David] is still visible on campus periodically so I think it gives people kind of a soft or safe transition."

But with every transition comes change. The big question: would shareholders and distant owners change Pelco? Meyer admits, "When you're a public company, there's no doubt, that there's a lot of eyeballs and a lot of shareholders looking for month to month, quarter to quarter financial results. So you're driven to operate a certain way when you're public than when you're private, when you're private, you get to choose." The change made some workers nervous. Eric Vergen, Pelco employee: "There was some concerns, a couple people were thinking, how it's gonna effect, are we gonna get laid off?

Then in February of this year, Pelco announced it would eliminate its in-house travel department, meaning layoffs for about two dozen employees. The company also closed a manufacturing plant located in New York. Rumors swirled that the company would shift local jobs overseas. Pelco quietly went to work to reassure its employees that more cuts weren't coming. Meyer explains, "We don't advertise it every day, but we're doing a lot of investment here. Pretty significant millions of dollars of investment in our facility, increased capacity, which means we plan to be here for a long time."

Sunil Malhotra, Pelco's Vice President of Production, says the production process has seen a huge improvement: "We are changing the foundation here." By implementing the concept of "lean manufacturing", eliminating waste and streamlining for maximum efficiency and output: "We want to provide good quality and we want to have the minimum cost for our product." That maintains the company's core value of customer service while keeping an eye on the future and the challenge of competing in the global market.

The company's CEO summed it up with this statement: "We have new technologies coming out, we're stronger internationally than we were a year ago, our financial health is better. So we're walking into '09 a stronger company today."

Pelco is the single largest contributor to the annual Toys for Tots drive, with over one million toys donated. Meyer says while Pelco's commitment to Toys for Tots remains strong, the annual parade is canceled this year and the company is scaling back its donation in lieu of the current economy.

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