IPP&T Magazine Online

CEO wants to keep it simple for customers

May 20, 2021   Don Horne

Conrad Oakey has taken the reins as CEO for NovaTech, a medium-sized provider of automation and engineering solutions, and his first order of business is to simplify.

As CEO, Oakey has a priority meeting with NovaTech’s customers as markets begin to open up.

“I want to make sure I spend as much time meeting with customers and advocating for them within our organization as possible,” said Oakey. “Customer experience, not established practice, will continue to be of primary importance at NovaTech.”

In his previous role as vice president of strategy and communications, Oakey focused on web technologies, search engine optimization and other digital marketing strategies while tracking or managing multiple high-level change initiatives within the organization.  He continues to drive the digitization of internal information and work processes to increase responsiveness to customer needs.


During the pandemic, he shifted NovaTech’s communications by introducing weekly educational product webinars for their power business customers and adopting real-time web-based collaborations to support process division customers during installations. These innovations helped keep NovaTech closely engaged with their customers during a period when they could not visit them in person.

“At our core, what we do is very important because we serve companies who keep society moving forward,” said Oakey. “Industries like power distribution, agricultural processing, chemicals, pharmaceuticals – including antivirals and vaccine production. As a family-owned medium-sized business, we are able to find new opportunities for growth that larger competitors might ignore but which our customers value.”

Product innovation is another area of focus for the new CEO, including incorporating specialized versions of products requested by customers into standard releases to accelerate new feature development. Oakey points to the latest version of their Orion product for substations which has been reduced to the size of a book.  The smaller form factor enables the device to sit on a pole-top or inside larger equipment, where it can consolidate information and perform control actions for distribution feeders.

Oakey, who originally joined NovaTech in 2000, includes among his accomplishments consolidating the management of the two business units (power and process automation), simplifying online ordering and customer support, as well as continuing to improve the functionality and ease-of-implementation of the company’s three product lines.

Oakey envisions moving beyond the company’s long-held strength in utility substations onto more points along the feeder, including pole-top sensing and control applications, underground vaults, small exchange points and mini substations.

“Our products enhance grid resilience and agility by providing more points of monitoring and control throughout an increasingly dynamic grid,” he said. “We are in a strong position to ride the wave of cyber resiliency and renewables that are shaping tomorrow’s power grids. We also look to expand our existing footprint in agriculture, pharma, brewing and chemicals into emergent markets seeking a proven way to scale from lab to pilot to large-scale production on the same platform and with an experienced process automation partner.”

Internally, Oakey will be leading a recently consolidated management team responsible for sales, marketing, operations, product development and employee services including IT, HR, finance and administration.

“The coordination of effort gets a lot easier when you have these experts at the top who understand their core disciplines,” said Oakey. “With the consolidation of functions, it makes it easier for our distributed teams who are directly interfacing with our customers to collaborate. In the end, it drives stronger accountability to our customers and our employees.

“I am looking forward to tapping the talent from across our organization to support new initiatives in areas such as in R&D and business development. This virtual world we have all embraced during the pandemic has shown us an opportunity to better leverage the expertise within our teams where before an individual’s contributions could remain more localized. In the end, this will help us better serve our customers,” said Oakey.

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