Former Marine Corps Officer Bruce Hueners was hired to run failing Palomar Technologies, a wire and die-bonder equipment manufacturing business, in 2005. The Citicorp investor group that owned the company told Hueners he had to sink or swim. Hueners discovered the company’s fatal flaw had primarily been poor management, not the products, technology, people or service. Concerned Citicorp might take actions under duress and spotting an opportunity, Hueners gambled and led a successful buyout of the company using personal monies to make the purchase in 2008. Believing most difficult situations can be overcome with faith, hard work and endurance, Hueners got the company in shipshape: climbing out of debt to sustain profitability; achieving some of the best margins in the industry, restoring the image of the company worldwide, and repairing a fractured employee morale base. Since he took command, Palomar has seen steady increases in revenues and profitability.
The capital equipment business is fundamentally cyclical, which can create waves. To maintain a globally competitive, profitable company, Hueners established a disciplined annual planning process and a revenue projection mechanism. He also established and refined a series of vital financial and operational factors to monitor the business and trained employees in their use. By building direct service capability for all Palomar systems, he distinguished the company from competitors, which use distributors to service their equipment.
Leading by example is essential. Since acquiring the company, Hueners has demonstrated no job is too small by doing almost every job available, from sweeping the building to heading sales. He and his team stay current by traveling frequently to conduct vendor needs and market research. People are his most valuable assets, so his employees are well taken care of and encouraged to wear multiple hats and learn numerous aspects of the business. When the company wins, everyone is rewarded.
Hueners is chairman of the board of the World Trade Center San Diego. Each year, Palomar engages in several of its events. Hueners also sits on two educational boards, and Palomar helps local high schools and colleges.
Putting his customers first, taking care of his employees, growing his team and implementing structural changes has helped Hueners steer Palomar to become a global leader. As it sails into the future, Palomar intends to launch new products and acquire more businesses.