by Bob Reback,
President and CEO
Running a company during an industry downturn presents quite a challenge. I have always thought I would someday be the president of a company. However, during this severe semiconductor down cycle, the thought that you should “be careful what you wish for” certainly came to mind a few times. Even though Cimetrix is a small company, successfully navigating a business through a severe downturn that hit the semiconductor industry requires a combination of critical thinking, tough decisions and a durable stomach.
The decision making process must consider the perspectives of all stakeholders - including investors, customers, employees and suppliers. The primary objective is clearly to make sure the business survives through the downturn. The secondary objectives relate to how to best satisfy customers, investors, employees and suppliers while making sure objective number one is met.
More than ever, this requires extensive communication with all parties. Not every party will be happy with your decisions. However, having sound analysis for your decisions, along with open and honest communications can ensure that all parties understand and, most importantly, accept the decisions.
Like almost all companies that serve the semiconductor industry, Cimetrix’s revenues suffered severe declines in the first half of 2009. The dramatic decline in revenues was the root cause of the crisis, as revenue brings in the necessary cash flow to pay employees and other business obligations. In addition, the severity of this down cycle caused more customers than anticipated to cease operations as a result of either bankruptcy or a parent company shutting down a division. Even though our primary competitor filed for bankruptcy and ultimately sold off its assets, there is no joy as you empathize for all of the affected employees without a job.
Fortunately, Cimetrix has a great team and everyone pitched in to help ensure the company successfully navigated through this down cycle. This includes our customers, employees, suppliers and investors. We are now seeing evidence that our customer’s businesses are starting to improve and the industry is on the mend, which is leading to increased revenues for Cimetrix. By retaining all of our key customers and a solid team of employees, we are well prepared and positioned for growing the business going forward.