Editor’s note: Kelly Campbell is president and co-founder of Interface Technologies in Raleigh and vice president for technology of the Association for Corporate Growth’s Raleigh-Durham chapter.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – How do companies grow revenues in what is a low-growth environment? It’s not an impossible task.

Several Triangle executives shared secrets from the success of their respective companies in a panel discussion hosted by the Association for Corporate Growth’s Raleigh-Durham chapter on Oct. 6 to discuss the state of the economy and capital markets.

Each of the companies represented on the panel grew substantially during the downturn. The key reasons were:

• Each company had something new and innovative to bring to the market.
• They continue to invest in research so they will be positioned for growth as the economy improves.
• They focuses on value and stuck to their strategy.

The panelists included Matt Springer, executive vice president for Corporate Development at Connexion Technologies; John Kurtzweil, chief financial officer at Cree; Peter Schmitt, CFO of Nomacorc; and Jeff Williams, chief executive officer of Clinipace.

Cree and Nomacorc introduced disruptive products. Cree with LED lighting and Nomacorc with synthetic wine bottle corks.

Williams said his company is different from a traditional contract research organization (CRO) because they leverage their software technology to run clinical trials. Their competition charges extra for the use of software within a trial.

Springer of Connexion Technologies described how property owners can make additional revenue by providing improved telecommunications and broadband for their residents.

Clinipace and Connexion found opportunities in a “bad” market. The shift of big pharma companies to an outsourced drug discovery pipeline allowed Clinipace to focus on meeting the CRO needs of early stage companies. A decline in real estate, construction, and telecommunications led Connexion to focus on providing addition revenue to owners of existing properties.

A challenge for Cree is to get consumers to embrace the change to LED lighting. They are also trying to establish their place in the “Green Movement”. Conserving energy through LED lighting gets less attention than switching to green technologies on the generation side of power: wind, solar, etc. Kurtzweil stated that by converting to LED lighting, the United States would return to 1987 power generation levels. For consumers, 22 percent of their power consumption is for lighting. For the government it’s 33 percent because the streetlights are included.

In spite of the downturn, Peter Schmitt of Nomacorc indicated his firm is still maintaining its investment in research. The competition is trying to catch up so they are introducing new products to expand their market reach and maintain growth. Since too much oxygen can ruin a wine. they are introducing corks that can moderate the flow of oxygen through the cork.

Kurtzweil added that Cree is investing in research and new technology during the downturn so they will be positioned for growth. If you hesitate, someone will pass you. When asked about Cree’s falling stock price, John said that it’s important to stick to, and believe in, your strategy and focus on growth.

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