New leader at Fluke Corp. eyes global growth
With a solid test-equipment product line, the Everett company's new president plans to spread the word, especially overseas.
Wes Pringle joined Fluke last year to head the Industrial Division. Last month, he took over as president of all of Fluke's businesses, including Fluke Calibration, Fluke Biomedical and Fluke Automation. He succeeded Barbara Hulit, who had served as Fluke president since 2005.
Fluke's headquarters is at 6920 Seaway Blvd., north of the big Boeing plant at Paine Field, and employs about 2,400 people worldwide. It is a subsidiary of publicly held Danaher Corp., a technology-focused holding company based in Washington, D.C.
Pringle is starting his tenure at Fluke on an upbeat note. He comes to the position on the heels of a series of product launches, and he sees himself in a position to lead the company in a period of global growth.
"I believe in what Fluke does," Pringle said. "The quality of our instruments, the safety of our instruments and the ways in which we seek to make the lives of those in the industrial world safer and better is, in my view, noble work. Our ability to grow into new categories and also to expand our business globally means we can do that on a broader scale."
Pringle came to Fluke from Whirlpool Corp., where he was the senior vice president of integrated business units. Those business units were essentially companies within the company that produced everything from laundry units to small kitchen appliances under the Kitchenaid banner.
Prior to his stint at Whirlpool, Pringle worked for large corporations with a global presence in the health-care industry. He was vice president and general manager for Pfizer in Canada and the Caribbean and was president and general manager for Consumer Healthcare USA for Johnson & Johnson.
He credits his experience at large corporations for the contacts that eventually brought him to Fluke in 2012.
"In the business world, you meet different business leaders in different capacities," Pringle said. "I had come to meet some of the senior leaders at Fluke, most notably Barbara Hulit. I was just really impressed with the team I had met."
As Pringle learned more about Fluke, he grew more impressed, he said. Friends who were Fluke customers gave the company's products glowing reviews, adding to Pringle's interest in joining the firm.
"And part of it, frankly, was coming out to the Pacific Northwest, which was very attractive to us," Pringle said. He had been living in the Midwest and was eager for a change of climate.
In joining Fluke, Pringle stepped into an award-winning, 65-year-old multinational company that makes electronic test, measurement and calibration tools. The company's products received awards or honorable mentions 18 times in just the first three quarters of 2013.
With the product line already drawing praise, Pringle hopes to help solidify the company's image with customers. "I would like to see the status of our brand elevated further, with folks seeing us as offering broader solutions and not just viewed as individual tools," he said.
He also hopes to focus on meeting customer needs. For example, Fluke's new infrared cameras are available in both high-end and low-end models to meet a range of budgets.
"At the more affordable price points, we've also launched a new product called the VT04, which is the highest-resolution visual thermometer available in its price category," Pringle said.
The company's new energy logger is designed for mid-sized industrial facilities. It gathers information on energy consumption that can help companies save money on energy bills and also help meet their environmental goals.
Recently, Fluke's president of the Asia Pacific region, Jimmy Hwong, took on additional geographic responsibility following the opening of a second manufacturing facility in China earlier this year and recent acquisitions of longtime Fluke distributors in India and Korea.
Pringle believes Hwong's appointment to oversee multiple office and manufacturing locations throughout Southeast Asia will strengthen that team and maintain momentum.
"I'd like to see us accelerate our rate of growth internationally," Pringle said. "I'm looking to maybe bring a sense of focus about where opportunities lie and maybe a sense of purpose in the organization about the good we do in the world and what opportunities are in front of us."
But Pringle is also aware that change doesn't happen overnight. For now, he is willing to work toward his goals and ultimately see what he can do during his tenure.
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