ExOne swapped out their CEO this past week, suggesting possible changes in strategy.
ExOne produces a line of industrial 3D printers that use a powder-based “Binder Jetting” process to produce large prints in sand or even metal. The metal prints require a post-printing sintering process to complete, while the sand prints can be used directly for casting.
In their press release, ExOne explained that previous CEO S. Kent Rockwell has been bumped up to become “Executive Chairman of the Board” and that Jim McCarley has been appointed as the new CEO. Also, President Hans Sack is retiring.
I believe CEO switches are a strong signal as to any company’s strategy, including ExOne. A company’s board of directors appoints someone who they believe will be able to execute their strategy, so by looking at who’s coming and who’s going can tell quite a bit about where the company may be going.
In this case, Rockwell was the CEO that led ExOne from its early stages and through its IPO process to become one of the very few publicly traded 3D printer companies.
However, the skills that are best for “IPOing” may not be the best for the next phase of ExOne’s development.
The new CEO, McCarley, has a background in operations at a large metal fabrication company. I believe such skills indicate a focus on operational development for ExOne. In fact, according to Rockwell:
We are pleased to add Jim as CEO, bringing his extensive experience in both operations and sales, particularly on the direct metals side of our business where we are strategically focused over the next several years.
And it’s quite the appropriate time, as interest in metal 3D printing is spiking among certain industries such as aerospace and automotive. Strike while the iron is hot, they say.