Ralph E. Grabowski - marketingVP - fact-gathering, analytical Marketing to steer the enterprise



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This a story of repositioning for dynamic growth:

  • from 35 employees to 3,500
  • from $3.5 million revenue to more than $.5 Billion
  • from a $2.1 million investment to a publicly traded company with a market capitalization of $1.6 Billion.

The problem

Click here for explanation of Vacu-Tran Robot IconsBrooks Automation was founded to pioneer robot wafer handlers for semiconductor fabs.  During Brooks' first ten years, they shipped more than all others combined; over three thousand of their patented "frog-leg" robots for atmospheric handling, and several hundred for vacuum operation.  They also spearheaded a third new field of radially configured, modular, wafer handling systems in vacuum, called cluster tooling.

After twelve years, the order rate was stagnant, hovering around $3.5 million, and Brooks was unprofitable.

They had performed essentially no market research or upstream marketing in four years.  Brooks' Marketing/Engineering Investment Ratio™ (M/E Ratio™) had been, at best, 0.05.

Furthermore, they had created no new literature in four years.  Their brochure conveyed an image of drab stagnation as we were about to enter the new millennium.  Data sheets were unusable since rapid product evolution rendered them obsolete shortly after they were printed, and they were already four years old.  As one consequence, Brooks did not mail out literature and did not have an organized response to new leads.

Brooks had just changed ownership for the fifth time in their twelve year life, buying themselves back from a disinterested conglomerate parent for $2.1 million.

The management team brought in a new President, Bob Therrien.  Bob faced a legacy of several years of neglect:

  • Customer impressions were that Brooks had lost all dynamics, and that their employees were ineffective and still gyrating from many ownership changes.
  • Literature and fulfillment systems were hopelessly out-of-date.
  • Brooks' leadership role in vacuum handling systems, cluster tooling, was at risk as the semiconductor industry was poised to began standardizing and adapting this technology.


My assignments

Bob Therrien retained me as VP of Marketing, a temporary executive, to support his revival of Brooks Automation and asked me to re-start the marketing department.

My task was to reposition Brooks for dynamic growth..


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