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.