Labovitz success award surprises Ikonics CEOIkonics CEO Bill Ulland was lured to the annual Joel Labovitz Entrepreneurial Success Awards on Wednesday by his company’s nomination for the small business Innovation Award.
By: Candace Renalls, Duluth News Tribune
Ikonics CEO Bill Ulland was lured to the annual Joel Labovitz Entrepreneurial Success Awards on Wednesday by his company’s nomination for the small business Innovation Award.
So he was surprised when he also got the much anticipated 2012 Business Person of the Year award.
With it, Ulland joins a prestigious list of past winners going back to 1971, including Al Amatuzio, Rob Link and Jeno Paulucci.
“He was chosen because as CEO and Chairman of Ikonics Corp., he has created a company that is very healthy financially, is an innovative company, not only producing for the domestic market but they are a global company,” said Kjell Knudsen, dean of the Labovitz School of Business and Economics, which gives out the award each year. “In our view, that is quite an accomplishment.”
But not telling the chosen Business Person of the Year ahead of time was a departure from recent years.
“In the last few years, we have contacted the individual beforehand,” Knudsen said. “But for many, many years this award was a surprise. And we used to do all sorts of things to make sure they got there.”
This year, they didn’t have to because Ulland was coming anyway for the Innovation Award nomination, which he also won. And his wife, who knew about the Business Person of the Year award, would make sure he got there.
The lack of notice, however, left Ulland with just a few comments when he accepted the award.
“This is a real honor,” he told the record turnout of more than 400 at the event at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. “I’m very pleased, humbled. Thanks a lot.”
Ulland, a certified geologist, has been involved in mineral exploration and served on the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees, including as its chairman in 1996. Since 1972, he has been a member of Ikonics’ board of directors. He became CEO in 2000 and has led the imaging technology company through many changes and transitions.
Today, it’s an international leader in game-changing imaging technology, including its patented digital texturing technology, or DTX.
“It’s easy to have good ideas, the trick is to have those ideas executed,” Ulland said when he accepted the Innovation Award.
The company has shifted its focus to the automotive and aerospace industries and now claims Boeing, General Motors and Airbus among its customers.
“A few years ago, we started knocking on doors in the aerospace industry,” he said. “Now they’re calling us.”