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issue: October 2004 APPLIANCE Magazine

People
Jay Ramsey of Spitfire Controls, Inc.


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It has been said that there is no use waiting for the right circumstances because people who succeed are those who make their own circumstances.

Jay Ramsey, president and CEO of Spitfire Controls, is one such person whose proactive approach to life has paid off. He says, “I always knew where I wanted to end up; it was just finding opportunities along the way to get there.”

Though the results of his efforts are most evident now, Mr. Ramsey’s ambitious path began back in 1976 when he was earning his B.S. in Electrical Engineering at Iowa State University in Ames, IA, U.S. Reaching toward specific objectives, his goal was to develop state-of-the-art antennas, and he took the initiative to attend numerous seminars on the subject. This initiative continued into his first job at Motorola in 1976.

When Motorola decided to add a module supplier division to its OEM business, Mr. Ramsey took the opportunity to transfer to the new section, where he was later promoted to chief engineer. He worked in that position until 1985, when he resigned to take a position as vice president of Digital Appliance Controls, Inc. (DAC). This new company grew rapidly and by 1986, the chief investors wanted to expand into Western Europe. Mr. Ramsey jumped on this international challenge and moved his family to Germany within months.

Three years later, Mr. Ramsey made another jump, this time to leave DAC and start Electronic Appliance Controls, Inc., where he stayed until Eaton Corp. bought the company from him. Bound by a 2-year non-compete clause, Mr. Ramsey worked with the management team of U.S. Controls until 1994, when he decided to start Spitfire Controls. Over the years, Spitfire has grown to fit its namesake, the spitfire airplane. Like the British aircraft that went after the German Luftwaffe in World War II, Spitfire is agile, quick, and responsive, according to Mr. Ramsey.

Mr. Ramsey says solving customer problems and teaching entrepreneurship are the highlights of his career. He tells APPLIANCE, “The professional development of young engineers who have worked in my organization has given me the most joy.” He makes a point of involving engineers right out of school in customer interactions and in working with other departments. This approach, he believes, creates a unique environment where young engineers can learn and experience the breadth of the business.

Mr. Ramsey also is a firm believer in participative management, a style marrying rewards and recognition to achievement towards goals and objectives. “Everyone needs to be appreciated and find personal reward in their work,” he explains. “I try to establish a culture where the work is self-directed and everyone can see the results of their efforts….The team wins when the business wins.”

It will come as no surprise that Mr. Ramsey follows the same drive for acquiring knowledge and experience in his off-time as he displays professionally. He fills his leisure time not only with his avid interest in the arts, but also pursues travel and says he loves to discover new things, expanding his horizons both literally and figuratively.

 

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