CEO William S. Robinson recently announced the appointment of James Eagan as the first outside member of Integral Technologies' Board of Directors. James Eagan will concentrate his efforts on commercializing our ElectriPlast™ technology and transforming Integral into a global company. In spite of his very busy schedule, James consented to being interviewed for the Company Corner.
Doug: Welcome to Integral Technologies and Company Corner, James . How did you first learn of ElectriPlast™?
James: I was introduced to Integral when I was Chief Marketing Officer of ORBCOMM 10 years ago. ORBCOMM was developing a tracking solution for Evergreen, a large Chinese shipping company, and needed an antenna that would fit onto its fleet of 75,000 container carrying trailers. Integral was developing its Plastenna™ technology back then and I thought it was an ideal fit. Unfortunately, I transferred to Australia and the Evergreen project didn’t get the same focus at ORBCOMM after I left.
Doug: What is it about the technology that interested you?
James: I was more attracted to the company than its technology, especially since I had a previous relationship with Integral. You don’t join a company and commit to help build a business solely because you’re interested in the technology. There are easier ways to play that, like buying ITKG shares, which I already own. I especially like Integral’s unique position of having one of the world’s largest IP portfolios of conductive material. From a business standpoint, you need an edge to compete, especially for a small company. ElectriPlast™ allows us to do that.
Doug: Very interesting, James. Thanks. And what about James Eagan? I am sure the shareholders would like to hear about your background.
James: Well, I grew up in Southern California and played all kinds of sports, but my favorite was playing varsity tennis throughout high school and being team captain in my senior year. As a youth, I watched the UCLA/USC football rivalry and had dreams of attending USC, but when it came down to it, I attended UCLA on a Navy ROTC scholarship majoring in economics. After graduation, I joined the Navy and served aboard USS Inchon for three years. The highlight of my tour was rescuing civilians from the US Embassy in Monrovia, Liberia in the early 1990’s during the Liberian civil war. During that operation, I was the ship’s Weapon’s Officer, and my job was to ensure all the Marine helicopters were fitted with the proper ordnance and the Marines conducting the rescue were well armed. The operation was successful, with no casualties. I still remember how tough those Marines were.
While I was in the Navy, I also worked in the Aegis shipbuilding program, my first opportunity to be part of a large production program comprised of government and commercial contractors. At any given time, we had five ships under construction 24/7 at the shipyards in Bath, ME and Pascagoula, MS. Each ship cost $500 - $700 million back then so you can quickly get the scope of the program.
I later joined ORBCOMM Global LP, the international satellite operator, and was responsible for developing their business in Asia and the Pacific. Unfortunately, the company was not able to weather the difficult market conditions of the 2000 time period and filed for Chapter 11. By that time I had developed relationships with ORBCOMM’s international licensees and we formed a group to acquire the assets from Chapter 11. We restructured the company, reduced the burn rate from $1.5M to less than $900K per month. We also repositioned the company to a low cost service provider. These actions saved the ORBCOMM business.
Doug: How do you think you can help Integral?
James: The company is in a transitional phase, from a company that was for a very long time focused on developing its IP, to one that is now commercializing the IP. This type of transition takes a different organizational structure and new skill sets. We are working to establish the right organization, looking at areas of weakness and ways to strengthen those weaknesses. We are doing that both internally and through discussions with our external partners.
In addition to the organizational effort, I want to explore business opportunities with some of the large companies I have worked with before, both here in the US and abroad.
Doug:..What do you see as some of the biggest challenges for Integral?
James: The biggest challenge people always think a company like Integral faces is its financial health. Clearly, it is always the 600-pound gorilla in the room. But in addition to focusing on our financial health, we need to have a long term focus on gaining market recognition, credibility and acceptance of our technology. In this kind of business we need to have a longer-term focus. I think in some areas we are making strides, especially in the automotive sector. We need to make similar progress in other verticals.
Doug: Thanks, James, for that very interesting perspective. We all look forward to you helping Integral to move to the next level: Unqualified commercial success.