February 2, 2009

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Article

Tom Carlin

Building Experience Upon Experience

Jared Preusz

February 2, 2009

Many business executives say hard work, determination and putting employees first is essential in a leadership role. Tom Carlin, who recently became president of electronics manufacturer Inovar, a division of inthinc, is no exception. The 37-year-old leader and Ohio native is considered a role model and someone who gets the job done. He brings more than 15 years of managerial experience to Inovar, having previously served as president of Edge Products and president and chief operating officer (COO) of MSD Performance. “I am excited about Tom joining our team,” says Blake Kirby, president and COO of inthinic. “He brings financial and operational expertise that will guide Inovar through strategic growth. He will drive continuous improvement, ensuring that we continue to deliver world-class service to our customers.” As president of the Logan-based company, Carlin says staying consistent to Inovar’s strategic direction is essential in helping the company succeed. “I always felt that a good strategy in business tells you as much what not to do as what to do,” he says. To make sure I set the right direction and stay true to it—that is my number one priority.” Carlin’s current position, however, was a long way in the making. He spent the first five years of his career as a manufacturing manager at Abbot Laboratories in Chicago. He then spent five years in the Atlanta, Ga. and Sydney, Australia offices with McKinsey & Company, a global management strategy and consulting firm. It was there where he learned about businesses on a worldwide scale; the company primarily served Fortune 500 clients. “It helped expose me to a wide variety of business problems at some of the world’s leading corporations,” Carlin says. Following his successful tenure at McKinsey & Company, Carlin moved to Ogden to take over as president of Edge Products, an aftermarket performance electronics company. His experience there was much different than at McKinsey & Company. “[Edge Products] taught me about how to succeed in a small company where the processes and the people may not be quite as developed, but there was a ton of energy and entrepreneurialism,” he says. “If you can harness that, you really get to experience some hyper growth.” Edge Products was later sold to MSD Performance, a leading automotive business. Carlin became president of that company as well, and in that role learned the necessary skills for his current position at Inovar. Now as president of Inovar, Carlin ensures to balance the right mix of morale building with leadership focus activities to achieve the company’s objectives. Carlin says he would not be where he is today without the trials he faced during his stewardship at MSD Performance. After a two-year growth period, the company struggled financially and he had to make radical cost reductions through several layoffs. “What helped me get me through it was treating people extremely well and fairly,” says Carlin. Today, Carlin practices some of the best business philosophies he learned at work during the last 15 years. “I believe in being very straight forward and honest with employees. I also believe in giving positive as well as developmental feedback on a frequent basis,” he says. “But most importantly, you should have a vision for either your company or the area you are in charge of, and where you want to see it go in six months, a year and two years and then be able to communicate that vision.”
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