Joel Hazzard

Consumer Products Category, Ergotron
Joel Hazzard

Digital information is everywhere,” notes Joel Hazzard. That means more and more places for Hazzard’s company, Eagan-based Ergotron, to be.

Headquarters: St. Paul
Founded: 1982
Revenues: $145 million
Ticker: Private
What It Does: Ergonomic stands and mounts for computers, televisions, and other types of large displays

Ergotron designs, manufactures, and sells digital display mounting and mobility products for laptops, large displays, and televisions. Among its top sellers are wall- and desk-mount arms, carts, height-adjustable stands, and vertical lifts. “A dual-screen, height-adjustable stand allows any computer user to get at least 20 percent productivity improvement,” Hazzard asserts. “But the stand can also be used for statistical process control in manufacturing floors, or for additional signage in places like Macy’s or Las Vegas hotels.”

Hazzard joined Ergotron in 1997 as a board member. The company’s founder started a spinoff company and asked Hazzard to run it. That company was later merged into Ergotron in 2005; Hazzard then became Ergotron’s president and CEO. Since then, the company’s sales have increased 247 percent. A key reason? The repositioning that Hazzard directed.

“The company was more of a custom solutions provider for a specific end user and not really focused on the mass market,” Hazzard recalls. “So we decided that we wanted to build products that were targeted towards the 85 percent of all consumers of computers, large displays, and so on.”

The company now has two divisions: Ergotron-branded products and products branded for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). “Our highest volume products are for OEMs,” Hazzard says. “We build millions of products for all the major OEMs like Samsung, H-P, and Dell.” The largest revenue-producing products on the commercial, Ergotron-branded side are used in health care facilities. “There isn’t a hospital that doesn’t have our products,” Hazzard says. “We’ve got mobile solutions like fully wireless powered carts that nurses can use to go room to room and collect point-of-care data.”

Ergotron has sales and production hubs in the Twin Cities, the Netherlands, and China. Hazzard has ambitious plans to double and even triple the size of the company through innovation and new products. He hopes to do this in large part by improving products’ functionality while simultaneously lowering costs in order to make them more affordable. “When we launch a generation of products, our goal is to drive cost out of the next generation and add features,” he says.

The current downturn has meant some pain for Ergotron. Hazzard slashed his compensation by 61 percent and his management team’s by an average of 48 percent. Employees who made more than $60,000 were cut by 5 percent. The plan appears to be working—Ergotron has been profitable this year and has so far surpassed its 2009 projections. “The goal is to reinstate salaries by this summer, and we’re pretty sure we’re going to be able to do that,” Hazzard says.