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New recruiting tactic for GE

JOHN SEELMEYER

Fast-growing GE Optimization Services, the Minden company that’s the state’s secondlargest manufacturer, is taking a new strategy in its bid to attract top engineering and software talent.

“It’s not intuitive to every engineering graduate that they would want to live in rural Nevada,” says Brian Palmer, general manager of the GE unit that traces its roots to Bently Nevada.

The new strategy? Instead of focusing their recruiting efforts at metropolitan schools such as the MIT, Palmer’s team recruits the top graduates of engineering schools in rural parts of the nation.

They’re more likely to understand the appeal of small-town life.

The recruitment of top talent is critically important to GE Optimization Services, which employs about 900 people in Douglas County.

With annual sales currently standing at about $320 million, GE Optimization looks to post at least 20 percent sales increases annually.

By 2007, Palmer told members of Northern Nevada Development Authority, the company plans to double its sales figures from 2003.And most critically, half of that sales increase will be driven by new products.

Otherwise, he said, competitors will catch up with the company’s technology.

“We are determined that the future of this business is not as a commodity,” Palmer said.

“The game for us is to remain absolutely on the edge.”

The company’s heavy investment in research $28 million this year alone is focused on creation of disruptive technological breakthroughs, technology so new that it changes the way that business is done.

At the same time, the company looks to build the other legs of its business.

Service, which was a relatively minor source of revenue when GE purchased Bently Nevada, today accounts for about $110 million in annual revenue.

GE Optimization, created after the giant company bought Bentley Nevada in 2002, sells equipment, software and related services that help energy facilities such as power plants or refineries to run more efficiently.

About half its customers are outside the United States, and the percentage of foreign business is likely to grow because the U.S.

energy business is flat, Palmer said.


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