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“Continued innovation is a primary driver for us”

May 2009 | Comments Off on “Continued innovation is a primary driver for us”

Says Steve Berglund, president and CEO of Trimble in an exclusive interview with Coordinates


Can you describe some defining moments for Trimble in its 30 year journey from the vision of Charlie Trimble in 1978 to the Trimble of today?

Trimble was the first GPS company to go public, offering stock on the NASDAQ (TRMB) in 1990. In 2000, Trimble acquired the Spectra Precision Group, a leading provider of positioning solutions for the construction, surveying and agricultural markets. Through the acquisition, Trimble gained significant resources in positioning technology complementary to GPS, including laser and other optical devices. The purchase of Spectra Precision doubled the size of Trimble. Trimble’s revenues have grown from approximately $270 million in 1990 to over $1.3 billion in 2008. More than 30 years of innovation has also continually defined Trimble. We were listed in the top innovative companies within the Electronics & Instruments

industry in the Patent Scorecard of the Wall Street Journal in 2009. Trimble is ranked 37th in technology strength. We currently have more than 850 U.S. and International patents. To date, Trimble has acquired 36 companies.

With you various acquisitions and alliances can it be said that the focus of Trimble is still on ‘positioning and navigation’?

Trimble’s focus has shifted over time away from defining ourselves in the context of a technology or set of capabilities. Instead, we define ourselves within the context of the markets we serve – such as construction, surveying, agriculture, and etc. None the less, positioning remains a key element in our solutions. We integrate a wide range of positioning technologies including GPS, laser, optical

and inertial technologies with application software, wireless communications, and services to provide complete commercial solutions, which allow customers to collect, manage and analyze complex information faster and easier, making them more productive and efficient. Continued innovation is a primary driver which allows Trimble to grow organically. For example, we invested 11 percent of our 2008 revenues for research and development and currently our IP portfolio includes over 850 U.S. and International patents. Acquisitions have played a role in our strategy, principally as mechanisms to establish beachheads in new market spaces, fill in product line gaps, or add new technologies to

our solutions portfolio. Trimble has also developed significant strategic alliances or joint ventures in our market areas. For example, Trimble has an alliance with Case New Holland in agriculture, two joint ventures with Caterpillar in construction and a joint venture with Nikon in survey. We also have a cooperative licensing deal with Nokia for our GNSS patents related to designated wireless products and services involving location technologies, such as GPS, assisted GPS or Galileo. We also have a licensing agreement with Marvell Semiconductors for our full GPS DSP software as well as tools for development support and testing. We expect that we will continue to establish new partnerships as another key element of our strategy.

Trimble is changing the way work is done by linking positioning to productivity, can you please elaborate on this statement for our readers.

Trimble is transforming the way work is done through the application of innovative positioning technologies. Trimble combines GPS, lasers, optical, and inertial technologies with wireless communications and application-specific software to provide complete solutions. These solutions enable professionals in engineering and construction, surveying, “Continued innovation is a

primary driver for us”

Says Steve Berglund, president and CEO of Trimble in an exclusive interview with Coordinates May 2009 | 13 agriculture, fleet management and field service, public safety and mapping to be more productive by revolutionizing their work processes and coupling the field to the office. Today, Trimble engineers are working on cutting-edge positioning applications that no one could have imagined a few years ago. Trimble technology can be found in commercial vehicles, construction equipment, farm machinery, computers, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and more.

Innovative applications include dispatching and managing fleets, surveying and building roads, monitoring and mapping earthquake damage, recording and synchronizing international financial transactions, and improving the efficiency of wireless communications networks.

What solutions is Trimble focusing on for the emerging markets in China, India and Eastern Europe where infrastructure projects are pushing the demand for positioning technology?

Generally, we intend for most of our solutions to be worldwide. When it comes to India, China, and other emerging economies there is often a need to localize the worldwide solution to meet specific needs. We are establishing local capabilities in our markets. For example, we now have approximately 200 employees in Chennai, both a software development center and factory in Shanghai, and a number of software centers around Europe. Trimble is said to be committed to making available Galileo compatible products to the users well in advance of the system availability, what about compatibility with other GNSS systems?

It is an exciting time for GNSS with multiple systems in the operating, deployment, modernization and planning stages. GNSS signal interoperability is a testament to the cooperation among the international scientific and engineering community supported by governments. Adoption of GNSS signals is fundamental to Trimble’s technology strategy as demonstrated by our history.

Plans to utilize new elements of GNSS include modernized GPS and GLONASS, and future Galileo and Compass signals. We plan to have Galileo and Compass compatible products available well in advance. Our goal remains: to offer solutions that meet customers’ needs by utilizing the best technology available, now and in the future.

How effective has the recycling of Trimble products program been?

Being eco-conscious isn’t just good for the planet. It’s good for business as more customers seek out companies dedicated to sustainability. We recognize the importance of minimizing the environmental impacts of our products and believe our recycling program is going well thus far. That is why Trimble is actively pursuing, and will continue to pursue, the expanded use of environmentally friendly materials in all its products, and why we established a convenient recycling program for Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE). We have a recycling facility located

at our Trimble Europe B.V. European Regional Fulfilment Center (ERFC) in Eersel, The Netherlands, for our customers, distributors and subsidiaries. The European Union defined a group of six compounds as restricted hazardous substances under its Restriction

of Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS) Directive. They are: mercury, cadmium, lead, chromium VI, polybrominated biphenyl (PBB), and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE). We redesigned our products to remove these materials where they exist, and are actively working to abide by the EU restrictions. As of July 2006, our products in the European market met the requirements of the RoHS Directive. In addition, Trimble is working toward applying these same standards

to all of our products wherever we sell or distribute them. In addition to recycling and using environmentally friendly materials, our solutions are being used by customers to help minimize their impact on the environment. For example, farmers are using our agriculture solutions to reduce the use of fertilizer while in the field. Our fleet and mobile resource management solutions are helping organizations to better manage mileage, idle time and fuel usage in an effort to reduce CO2 emissions. And finally, green investment funds are investing in Trimble..

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