By Mark Wright
ROY, UTAH -- Iomega is a high-tech company in the predominantly
Mormon community of Roy, Utah. As the largest publicly traded company
based in Utah, Iomega has brought technology jobs and money to many
members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Iomega is
tracked on the Mormon Stock Index because its chairman, David J.Dunn,
is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ and because of the many
members that are employed there.
Most well known for the Zip and Jaz removable storage devices that
practically defined the removable storage category, Iomega is in the
news now because of its surprising ability to weather its lingering
problems and the tech stock meltdown of the last year. Not only did
Iomega miss out on the stratospheric gains in the technology industry
over the last few years, many analysts predicted a year ago that
Iomega would be out of business by now.
Iomega's problems were significant and included employee turnover,
not only amongst the rank and file, but at the CEO level as well. In
addition, $150 million invested in developing new storage
technologies didn't pan out. These problems, as well as others, led
to a precipitous drop in the market cap of the company when Iomega
ended 1999 valued at $3.25 a share, down 80 percent from its high
several years earlier. While these problems have brought many lesser
companies to their knees, the Iomega faithful have found hope in
their new leader, Bruce Albertson.
Albertson, who had been retired, became CEO in January 2000 shortly
after former General Electric management guru Kim Edwards quit.
Albertson cut his teeth under the tutelage of Jack Welch, the
legendary chairman of General Electric and widely regarded as one of
the most influential corporate leaders of the 20th Century. Under
Albertson, the current employees have high hopes that Iomega can not
only reclaim the level of success that it previously enjoyed, but
reach new heights.
Albertson's vision for Iomega extends well beyond the salvaging of
the company's core products in the removable storage market. Indeed,
Albertson envisions an entire new set of products and his plans also
include a foray into the world of entertainment. In order to be
increasingly successful and achieve these lofty goals, the previously
utilized development process that included years of planning and
strategizing is being compressed into months.
One of the first products out of the shortened product development
cycle is the Quik Sync software. Quik Sync allows users to
synchronize the electronic files that are stored on their local PC or
network with the files stored on their backup drive. Fulfilling the
goal of moving into the entertainment world, the HipZip and the
FotoShow made their debut. HipZip is a skip-free digital audio
player FotoShow allows users to store and view digital photos on a
standard television. While Iomega is not out of the woods just yet,
Albertson is clearly making the investment community stand up and
take notice. Albertson has produced five consecutive quarters of
strong profits and the company earned $22.0 million in the final
three months of 2000.
As long as Iomega continues to be successful in implementing and
deploying Albertson's vision, Iomega should continue to be a
heavyweight player in Utah's technology marketplace. This may
develop into one of the most successful "turnaround" stories of the
last few years. Many faithful members of the Church who depend on
Iomega for a living, are no doubt praying that it will.
Salt Lake Tribune 19Feb01 B4
By Paul Beebe: Salt Lake Tribune