After a lengthy search, 3D Systems announced their new CEO: Jeffrey Graves.
Graves replaces Vyomesh Joshi (VJ), who announced his retirement a few months ago. VJ had held the post of CEO at 3D Systems since April 2016, and his successor takes the helm on May 26. During VJ’s 4+ years at 3D Systems things were stabilized, but there were no long-term solutions to 3D Systems’ persistent quarterly losses. I’ve written several times with thoughts on 3D Systems’ future, but none of those ideas will come to pass under VJ’s leadership.
Earlier this year I listed some rather aggressive ideas for turning the company around, and perhaps newcomer Graves might consider some of them.
But as in every CEO selection, there is a bit of analysis to be done. The board of 3D Systems has but one job: hire (and fire) the CEO. They will have spent considerable time analyzing their current state and determined a rough strategy for resolution. Then they simply select a CEO candidate that happens to be experienced in the methods for that strategy.
Thus by looking at Graves’ career we might gain some insight into where 3D Systems thinks they’re heading. 3D Systems says:
“Graves brings 17 years of CEO experience and a proven track record for leading, operating and growing technically complex businesses.”
“Graves joins 3D Systems from MTS Systems, a leading global supplier of high-performance test, simulation and measurement systems, where he served as CEO for the past eight years. At MTS, Graves led a company transformation to clearly define and deploy a focused business strategy and streamlined operating model.”
Jeffery Graves Background
According to Graves’ LinkedIn profile, he’s worked in quite a variety of scientific and management positions at companies including Rockwell, GE, Kemet Electronics, C&D Technologies and MTS Systems.
Graves is also currently on the board of directors of FARO, a maker of 3D scanners; Teleflex Corporation, a provider of advanced medical equipment; and Hexcel Corporation, “a leading producer of carbon fiber reinforcements and resin systems”.
The latter two board positions are quite interesting, as 3D Systems has focused very strongly on the healthcare segment, which is now one of their most important client groups.
The relationship with Hexcel is also quite intriguing, as 3D Systems currently does not offer many composite materials in their extensive resin portfolio. This development could suggest a more broad composites future for the company if the relationship continues.
His profile at Purdue, where he obtained a BSc in metallurgy, says:
“The unique determination that Jeff Graves brings to his professional life is clearly evident in his consistent success throughout a 30-year career. In the past six years at MTS Systems Corp., Graves led 3,000 employees to a 48 percent increase in revenue that included a threefold increase in profitability for the corporation’s sensor components businesses.”
Graves also holds a PhD in metallurgy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
There is little else available publicly to suggest specific skills in Graves’ toolkit that may be deployed at 3D Systems other than general management capabilities, as he’s been CEOing for almost 20 years.
I did inspect the Glassdoor reviews for MTS Systems, his prior company. There’s plenty of anecdotal information there for those who are interested. Be aware that Glassdoor reviews tend to be negative. Graves received a poor rating from leadership rating site Comparably.
I’ll be watching 3D Systems closely over the next period to see what changes Graves implements to the long-term 3D printing company.
One more thing: Graves’ previous company, MTS Systems, is located in Eden Prairie, literally a five-minute drive to competitor Stratasys’ HQ.
This is, of course, mere coincidence.
Via 3D Systems