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Making Waves in a Growing Industry
By: Josh McFadden
March 1, 2012
With two decades of experience leading companies in the technology industry and with a proven track record as an innovative, hard-working executive, Martin Plaehn is the perfect CEO for Utah-based Control4.
A provider of an operating system for the “smart home,” Control4 delivers intelligent control over consumer electronics products, appliances and networking systems through an easy-to-use and intuitive software interface. The company hired Plaehn in September to fill the position vacated by Will West, who is now chairman and chief strategy officer.
“My main justification for joining was to complement the founder’s skill set and help continue the founder’s goals,” Plaehn says. “I was very compelled by the opportunity. The industry is quite large and getting larger.”
Plaehn spent his first 100 days as CEO meeting with each employee—in groups of 10 to 12—and flying across the country to gain an understanding from technology equipment dealers of what their expectations are and how Control4 can meet those demands.
“I just jumped right in to learn the market and products and to understand the employees,” he says.
Plaehn is a motivator. He urges his colleagues and employees to be proactive and goal-oriented.
“I advocate people to ask what they want to make happen today, this week, this month and this year,” he says. “It inspires people to get up in the morning and make things happen. Don’t ride waves—make waves.”
Plaehn also teaches his employees to simplify their ideas and to have customers’ interests in mind when making decisions. Perhaps more importantly, Plaehn recognizes the need to be adaptive in developing products and in making key business decisions.
“You have to learn how to manage artifacts of all prior decisions,” he says. “All decisions have a shelf life; they require change. In all my previous work, we grew fast, adapted quickly and had to supersede mature products with new things.”
Like any executive, Plaehn’s responsibilities are plentiful. He encounters his share of obstacles and challenges. But Plaehn thrives under these circumstances. It’s another reason he’s been successful throughout his career.
“I love solving problems,” he says. “I get a big thrill out of watching teams come together and accomplish more than they expected.”