The dusty truck appeared no different from others idly waiting to cross into
For Ralph Sheridan, CEO of tiny American Science & Engineering, the Border Patrol’s cocaine haul was all in a day’s work. The Billerica, MA-based firm is a leading developer and manufacturer of highly specialized X-ray systems designed to identify materials that conventional X-rays would miss. The
In addition to drug enforcement, diligent inspection of cars, trucks, ships, and airplanes can help thwart social and economic ills such as counter-terrorism, weapons smuggling, and trade fraud. Says Sheridan, 49, a corporate turnaround specialist with tenure at three Fortune 500 companies, “We’re going after markets that are dealing with complex global problems.” He’s especially optimistic about demand for fighting trade fraud-the loss of government import duties due to undervaluation or mislabeled merchandise. “If the manifest says there are 100 television sets, we can count 100 television sets,” he explains.
AS&E had been competing to provide government facilities and airports with terrorist bombing defenses. But as Michael Hutchinson, a senior investment analyst at
His positioning of AS&E as a safety blanket for an unpredictable world helped win it a more secure footing. Sales reached roughly $33 million in fiscal 1998 on net income of $4.7 million. The CEO expects revenues to approach $55 million in fiscal 1999, a steep growth trajectory that reflects increasing concern among
Most of the firm’s growth is coming from overseas; international business from countries like Mexico, South Africa, Egypt, and Abu Dhabi, account for about 40 percent of sales, up from 20 percent a year ago. The
The former marathon runner likens the company’s growth to passing one milepost after another. If AS&E grows as expected, it would have installations throughout the developing world. At that point,
American Science & Engineering
‘My whole career has been based on thinking about how to use technology to develop new markets.’
Family: Married; one son
Words to live by: “Fail fast. Fix it. Move on.”
Outside of the Office: Former marathoner; recreational motorcyclist.