William G. Parzybok Jr.

Bill Parzybok suffered only one disappointment when he accomplished the feat of scaling Mt. Rainier two years ago. The guide [...]

May 1 1995 by Judith Rehak


Bill Parzybok suffered only one disappointment when he accomplished the feat of scaling Mt. Rainier two years ago. The guide service wouldn’t allow the experienced climber to plant a flagpole containing a microfilm copy of his company’s mission statement atop the 14,410-foot peak.

Mission statements are sometimes written off as empty words, but not in Parzybok’s book, He’s convinced that Fluke Corp.‘s statement has revived the once-struggling maker of test and measurement devices instruments, in essence, that measure other instruments in computer networks and a variety of automotive, marine, electrical, and heating equipment.

“It was a good company, with good people and quality products-and no sense of where it was going,” says Parzybok, describing affairs at Fluke when he was recruited from Hewlett-Packard as its chairman and CEO in 1991. Sales at the Everett, WA, firm were tumbling: Its biggest customers, aerospace and defense companies, had been hit by cutbacks in government contracts.

Undaunted, 52-year-old Parzybok rallied his new colleagues and crafted a mission statement-”to be the leader in compact, professional, electronic test tools,” then put it into action. Businesses that didn’t serve the core $8.5 billion market, such as the production of screens for bank automated teller machines, were sold off. So far, so good: Revenues in the fiscal year ending April 30 are expected to reach $375 million, up some 5 percent from the year before; net income for the first half of the year is up more than 67 percent to $5.6 million. With the recent acquisition of its European joint-venture partner, a division of Dutch electronics giant Philips N.V., more than half of Fluke’s business will come from overseas.

Inevitable puns about Fluke’s name taken from founder John Fluke-led the company to consider a change. But when it was discovered that customers testing anything from a traffic signal to an air conditioning unit used the expression, “Did you ‘fluke’ that?”, the idea was scrapped. “The identification was just too strong,” Parzybok says.