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Vested Outsourcing – Part 1

October 4, 2011

Innovators Interview Series with Scott R. Schroeder

Vested Outsourcing is a topic you likely have not heard much about yet. It is an innovative approach to improving the outcome and effectiveness between companies and their suppliers.

It is particularly important to companies that make things themselves or currently outsource production off-shore. We discuss Vested Outsourcing with Scott Schroeder in this two part interview series.

Over the last couple of years I’ve had the opportunity to work with Mega Tech of Oregon (MTO). They are a contract manufacturing company located in Corvallis, Oregon and they have been in business for almost 25 years. MTO works with many high-tech, electronic, consumer product, medical instrument, wood product, aviation, RV and other kinds of manufacturing companies.

Mega Tech of Oregon, 33866 SE Eastgate Circle, Corvallis, Oregon

Because MTO works with differing types and sizes of companies, they have to be very sharp and agile. Like a job shop, they can work on anything from a single component for clients to building and supporting a complete product line. After working with manufacturing companies since the mid-1970’s, I have developed a great appreciation for the hard work and intelligence it takes for these entrepreneurs to succeed in business.

Some of the smartest people I’ve ever known have been from the shop floor. People who carry on the great tradition of  Yankee ingenuity. One such entrepreneur is Scott Schroeder, president and CEO of Mega Tech of Oregon.

Scott R. Schroeder

Scott grew up in Oregon’s forest products industry. His father was CEO of a forest products company and his uncle was the “Oregon State Forester” in charge of the Department of Forestry . Scott spent his school years working around production lines and mill automation equipment. He went on to earn a B.S. in Forest Engineering from Oregon State University.

His professional career spans 32 years managing timber and land resources, production facilities and manufacturing plants, mills and companies. Over these positions, he developed a keen sense of what it takes to make better products with fewer resources. Scott honed this inherent talent for problem solving and productivity into the art of getting the most out of people, machines and systems with a minimum of turbulence and discord.

This summer Scott and his MTO Team hosted a plant tour and a presentation for the Software Association of Oregon and the Willamette Innovators Network. Scott gave a presentation on Vested Outsourcing that was well received. I knew that Scott had a real passion for this new approach to outsourcing having talked to him about it. Unfortunately, I was out of town that week and was unable to attend Scott’s presentation. I asked if he would let Innovational Musings record a conversation with him on Vested Outsourcing as part of our Innovators Interview Series. He agreed, below is Part 1 of that interview.

In Part 1 of our interview with Scott Schroeder he discusses:

  • 00:40 – About MTO and it’s customers
  • 03:00 – How he became interested in Vested Outsourcing
  • 04:55 – Key rules of Vested
  • 05:30 – Rule 1, Outcome Based
  • 06:20 – Rule 2, Focus on the What not the How
  • 08:15 – Rule 3, Clearly Defined Outcomes
  • 10:00 – Rule 4, Recognize Cost/Service tradeoffs
  • 12:35 – Rule 5, Insight not oversight
  • 14:22 – End Part 1

We appreciate the cooperation of Scott Schroeder of MTO and Kate Vitasek of the University of Tennessee for their help with this interview.

Next post, Part 2 – Vested Outsourcing with Scott Schroeder.

Related links…

Vested Outsourcing website

Vested Outsourcing book

Vested Outsourcing videos


IBM Watson Team – Innovators of the Year

September 28, 2011

R&D Mag Names Big Blue Watson Team Innovators of the Year

Over the last year I have written a lot about Watson. True Artificial Intelligence and natural language understanding are very hard problems to solve.  Irrespective of the smart machines and clever robots like Maria, ElectroRobby and Hal, who have  fascinated movie goers for decades, real-world machine intelligence has been a long time coming.

We at Innovational Musings congratulate the IBM Watson Team for their accomplishment and well deserved recognition for reaching a real milestone in man-machine relations.

The Man, The Team & The Machine

“In recognition of their accomplishment in Watson, the editors of R&D Magazine have honored Dr. David Ferrucci, research staff member, Watson team leader, and IBM Fellow, and the members of IBM Research’s DeepQA Team with their highest individual innovation award, the Innovator of the Year.  In 2011, for the first time, the editors recognize the teamwork involved in making possible the most advanced computer-supported intelligence system yet: Watson.” More on the award…

Dr. David Ferrucci is a Research Staff Member and leader of the Semantic Analysis and Integration Department at IBM’s T.J. Watson’s Research Center. His team of 25 researchers focuses on developing technologies for discovering knowledge in natural language and leveraging those technologies in a variety of intelligent search, data analytics, and knowledge management solutions. See Ferrucci bio…

Robots can be your friends, like AWESOM-O.

Read more about the Watson project and the team…

See how Watson works…

Also see where Watson went to work…

The Allure of Classic Automobiles PDX

September 19, 2011

Portland Showcases Classic Beauties

June 11 – September 18, The Portland Art Museum hosted an extraordinary exhibit of classic automobiles from the 1930s – 1950s. The exhibit is titled The Allure of the Automobile. Visitors had the chance to ogle some of the most sexy sheet-metal ever to  transport man. As much art as auto, these cars are a joy to behold and even standing still they are breathtaking.

I shot a few photos and a video of the exhibit, but made sure to put the camera down part of the time so I could visually appreciate these beauties with my eyes and not just through a lens. Also below, there are links to the exhibit website and other places to see and learn more about these marvelous machines.

In concert with the exhibit, the museum hosted a large number of electric vehicles as part of the Cars in the Park series. I shot some pretty cool video there too and will post it soon. But for now enjoy the slide show and the eleven minute video tour accompanied by period music played by US Air Force Airmen of Note.

The Allure of the Automobile

1957 Jaguar XKSS Roadster and 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SLR (W 196 S) , photo credit, Nancy Suttles and Merry Waldroup

Portland Art Museum

June 11, 2011 – September 18, 2011

Opening in June 2011, The Allure of the Automobile will showcase 16 of the world’s most luxurious, rare, and brilliantly conceived automobiles designed between 1930 and the mid-1960s. From the avant garde 1937 Hispano-Suiza owned by French apéritif baron André Dubonnet to the ultra-cool convertible 1957 Jaguar XK-SS Roadster once owned by Hollywood legend Steve McQueen, the exhibition traces the evolution of the motorcar, showcasing developments in automotive design and engineering. More from the exhibition website…

Slide Show of a few Beauties

Music playing in these videos is from the Airmen of Note’s album Let’s Dance

US Air Force Airmen of Note

On September 28th, 1950, the Airmen of Note was formed to carry on the musical style and tradition of Major Glenn Miller’s Army Air Forces Orchestra. This proved to be a significant challenge. At that time, military bands were widely regarded as marching and concert ensembles; jazz and dance music were not as readily associated with military music programs. Upon its inception, the Airmen of Note was known throughout the world as “The official Dance Band of the United States Air Force.” Fifty years later, it gives us great pleasure to present this album, titled Let’s Dance, as a tribute to swing music, its heritage and significance.

Video Tour of Exhibit

Allure of the Automobile Exhibit Highlights:

– 1935 Duesenberg JN Roadster, ex-Clark Gable
– 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante Coupe
– 1937 Hispano-Suiza H-6C “Xenia” Coupe
– 1937 Delage D8-120S, Surbaisse, ex-Louis Delage
– 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C2900B Touring Berlinetta
– 1938/39 Porsche Type 64
– 1948 Tucker Model 48 Torpedo
– 1953 Porsche 550 Le Mans/La Carrera Panamerica Coupe
– 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SLR “Uhlenhaut” Coupe
– 1957 Jaguar XKSS Roadster, ex-Steve McQueen
– 1959 Chevrolet Corvette “Bill Mitchell” Stingray Prototype
– 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB “SEFAC Hot Rod”
– 1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato

Read more…

$1.2M To Rev-up Drive Oregon & Hire New Director

September 8, 2011

Legislature Funds Drive Oregon to Promote Growth in Electric Vehicle Industry

News from Drive Oregon

August 10th, 2011

SALEM, ORE. – With the support of Governor John Kitzhaber and the Oregon Legislature, the Oregon Innovation Council has awarded $1.2 million in funding for Drive Oregon, an initiative to energize that state’s emerging electric vehicle industry and take advantage of the federal government’s goal to have a million plug-in vehicles on the road in the next four years.

“Drive Oregon embodies the kind of organization that can help position our state to leverage its leadership in the electric vehicle sector and to grow solid family- and high- wage jobs and keep money in the local economy,” said Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen, and chair of the Governor’s Transportation Electrification Executive Council (TEEC).

Funding is expected to be in place by the end of this year that will allow Drive Oregon to move forward with plans to nurture the economic development potential of the electric vehicle, transportation electrification and energy storage industries. See full article…

Some of that funding will go to hire a new director.

Position: Drive Oregon – Executive Director

Posted: Sep. 1, 2011

Closes: Sep. 23, 2011


Drive Oregon, the state’s industry association for electric  vehicles (EVs) and components, is seeking an Executive Director (ED). This is a  full-time position, and the ED reports to the Board of Directors. Drive Oregon  is a coalition of companies and interest groups engaged in the EV industry and  transportation electrification. Drive Oregon consists of companies that develop and produce vehicles and components, perform conversions, and provide consulting services for hybrid and electric vehicles and energy storage  technologies.

Drive Oregon’s mission is to catalyze the growth of Oregon’s electric vehicle industry to ensure Oregon develops and maintains its competitive advantage and maximize the economic  development potential of this emerging industry. To learn more about the job, go here…

So Long Steve – We’re Glad We Knew Ye

August 26, 2011

The Long and Winding Road

In my April 2, 2010 post, Altair Remembered – Robots, PC Pioneers And UAVs  I wrote extensively about my time working in Silicon Valley in the early days of the computer and robotics industries. It was a lengthy musing in memory of Ed Roberts.  He was the founder of MITS and inventor of the Altair 8800, widely credited as the world’s first personal computer.

August 12th marked the 30th anniversary of the IBM PC. And this week we learn that Steve Jobs is stepping down as CEO of Apple Inc. It’s the end of a glorious era.

Apple, like HP before it, changed the Valley and the world. Also HP just announced it was looking to sell-off it’s PC business. Back in 1996 when Larry Ellison (good friend to Jobs and another adopted, college drop-out) prematurely proclaimed that the PC was dead. Looks like 15 years later he’s right. No worries, All Things Must Pass.

There are plenty of articles and profiles being published about Jobs and Apple, I’ve listed some good ones below. Hopefully Steve Jobs will be around for years inspiring Apple, Pixar and spending time with family and loved ones.

Here are a few of my thoughts on this colorful innovator and entrepreneur with links to related stories and music of his time.

Knowledge is Power

Take a bite Eve – it’s tasty and will set you free.

Read more…

EV Caddy Re-Intro & Volt Losing Sparkle?

August 17, 2011

Brown-out for GM Electrics?

I haven’t been kind to the Chevy Volt in posts on this blog. While I am a fan of EVs I am no longer a fan of GM and its performance over the last few decades. Its management, cars and workforce have ruined my early love affair with Chevy, my one time favorite.

My First Chevy Looked Like This Beauty

In 1961 Chevrolet brought this stunning 1961 Impala convertible to the public. With the original Jewel blue exterior and blue interior the white top makes this car. Lovingly restored in 2006 with everything being rebuilt or replaced on this Impala. Read more…

Reports are that GM may soon re-introduce the electric hybrid Cadillac Converj (awful name) built on the Volt platform. Anybody remember the success of the Cadillac Cimarron?

GM bigwig and vociferous Volt proponent Bob Lutz said in January the project was a go. Autopia

Chuck Squatriglia of Wired’s Autotopia wrote in March 2010

The Cadillac Converj concept was a sexier, more luxurious version of the Chevrolet Volt we’ll see on the road by the end of the year. GM never confirmed the Converj, first seen last year at the Detroit auto show, was anything more than a slick showpiece. Still, everyone figured it was as good as done because GM bigwig and vociferous Volt proponent Bob Lutz (that’s him in the pic) said in January the project was a go.

But Bloomberg, citing “two executives with knowledge of the move,” says the General decided in late January to kill the project after concluding the car wouldn’t have enough amenities and range to be compelling for consumers. GM has decided to focus instead on developing plug-in hybrids for Cadillac because the batteries are smaller and cheaper.

Read more…

Arcimoto Slays Translogic

July 27, 2011

There was bad news in our last post about 3-wheeler makers Green Vehicles and Aptera. Hopefully, Oregon based Arcimoto can get adequate funding to bring their car to market. We wrote about Arcimoto’s new SRK in May and took a test drive last Sept. of  their Gen4 prototype.

The new Arcimoto SRK has some nifty improvements over earlier versions. The basic vehicle platform can be configured in a number of optional body styles and battery packs.

SRK body options

The base model is priced at $17,500. Beyond the base, you can select hard or soft-shell coverings. You can stay with the standard heavy lead acid batteries, or you can opt for the lighter Lithium-Iron-Phosphate battery pack for an additional $5,000, which increases the SRK’s between charge range to 80 miles, up from the standard 40 miles between charges.

The new features I found most impressive are:

  • They’ve moved the drive to the two front wheels which should improve handling and cornering. I was never comfortable with a single rear drive that keeps the drive wheel in the oil slick in the center of many roadways.
  • Minimum dashboard electronics depending instead on the driver’s smartphone to handing many of the command and control functions.
  • The battery options that let owners easily upgrade batteries as technology advances.
The new Arcimoto SRK was taken on a spin by Translogics‘ Bradley Hasemeyer. In this video he discusses the car with company president Mark Frohnmayer and gives the new SRK a very positive review.

What the all-electric Arcimoto SRK lacks in performance, it makes up for with unique innovations like its battery agnostic platform and USB key. Through creative thinking and distinct design, the head-turning Arcimoto SRK accomplishes a futuristic feel in a reasonably priced package.

The Arcimoto is closer to a neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV), even though it has a stated top speed of 65 mph, than the Nissan LEAF. And the SRK will not work as the only car for most families. But, it is a lot more affordable and fun to drive than the LEAF.

Let’s hope  Arcimoto fares better than Green Vehicles and we see their cool EV cars zipping around towns across America bringing miles of smiles…

Related Stories…

Colbert Report, July 27: Nissan’s ‘LEAF Wave’ Deadline