Huntsman graduate leads successful Logan-based company.
Teenagers may grumble, but they may also live a bit longer thanks to a company headed by a graduate of the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business.
Blake Kirby, accounting, ’91, is the president and chief operating officer of a Logan-based company called inthinc. One of the products inthinc makes is an on-board safety system called tiwi that was launched in July. The device is designed to monitor the driving habits of teenagers and is marketed to parents. Kirby said the number one cause of death for teenagers is auto accidents. Such accidents kill 6,000 teenagers and cause 60,000 serious injuries a year, he said.
inthinc has already had success with a similar on-board system called the waySmart 820 RTS system that has been installed in 12,000 vehicles, most of them trucks in the oil and gas service industry.
“Our customers have achieved an 80 percent reduction in accidents using this product,” Kirby said.
The company makes 500 different products a month, including a missile guidance system for General Dynamics and a device used by the U.S. Air Force to communicate with unmanned drone aircraft. Before the company merged with Independent Witness, Inc., to become inthinc in 2007, it was called Inovar. When Kirby invested in Inovar in 1998, it was a small firm working out of a converted garage in Hyrum, making $1 million a year and employing 20 people. Kirby said he expects the company, which now employs 350 people and operates out of a 20,000-square-foot facility in Logan, to bring in $80 million this year.
Blake Kirby is the President and Chief Operating Officer of a Logan-Based company called inthinc.
Kirby became CEO in 2000 just in time to lead the company through the dot-com bust and the hard economic times that followed 9/11.
During the tech meltdown, Kirby hired engineers and professionals from some of the most dynamic companies in the world.
Kirby said he developed many of his entrepreneurial instincts while at Utah State University when, as a student, he became a part owner of Cache Valley Limo, an airport shuttle service. He said when he faced vocational challenges he sought out his professors for advice.
“I was applying everything, real time, so that accelerated my learning,” he said. He now hires students from USU who have honed their entrepreneurial instincts.
“My management style is to hire people who are dynamic and are entrepreneurs themselves and put them in an environment where they aren’t inhibited,” he said.
Kirby said the company embraces lean principles and is very focused and goal-oriented. Employees set their own goals and track their progress on “scorecards” that keep them focused and progressing. Something must be working. Last year, for the fifth year in a row, his company was recognized as one of Utah's fastest growing companies.
“When I stop and take a breath and look backwards, I am overwhelmed with what our team has been able to accomplish,” Kirby said.