North Star Imaging Celebrates 30 Years

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Seth Taylor

Business Unit Manager

To the young, thirty years seems like an eternity, then one day you have your 30th birthday and the years go by unbelievably fast. From what I have been told, people in their golden years see thirty years as a blink of the eye. I guess it’s all relative to your age and perspective, but in this day and age, thirty years in business is something to celebrate.

Although I personally haven’t been with NSI for the full 30 years, I have been around for a good chunk of them and have seen quite a change in the business by both choice and requirement. So how does a business last and why is NSI still here when so many other companies aren’t? It’s a good story and I think the formula can be boiled down to being open to change. The old adage does apply, “the only thing that is constant is change”. In my opinion, there were three pivotal changes in NSI’s history that led to the company growing and being as successful as it is today. Those three changes were 1) transitioning from a manufacturer’s representative to a manufacturer, 2) focusing on Computed Tomography technology, and 3) the acquisition of NSI by Illinois Tool Works.

It takes courage for a small business to set a new course into the unknown. Yet near the turn of the century, NSI made the decision to become a system manufacturer instead of a remaining a representative of others. This gave us better control of our future so that we were not susceptible to the decisions of organizations who may not have had our best interest in mind. Obviously, this decision also raised NSI’s risk potential at a time when the market was less than stable, but in hindsight it was undoubtedly the best path to take.

This may come as a surprise to those who have only dealt with< NSI in the last ten years, but NSI was a manufacturer’s representative for a now defunct company who designed and manufactured industrial CT systems. NSI had modest success in this relationship as our ability to bring the product to market was limited in multiple facets. We decided that we could do much better by making our own CT system; after all, we were already producing a CT system but without the software. We found a third party provider of CT reconstruction software to work with and just like that, the NSI CT system was born. Shortly thereafter, NSI developed its own in-house software and the modern software platform was created. This was another change that ended up being a great decision.

Perhaps the most prolific change in our 30-year history came in 2010 when NSI was acquired by the multi-billion dollar conglomerate Illinois Tool Works (ITW). Certainly it wasn’t a surprise that a company performing well would be acquired, but the bluntness and difference between a “mom and pop shop” and big business was significant. One day everything is normal, and the next ownership is gone and we are part of a company traded on the New York Stock Exchange. NSI instantly had the ability to grow at a much faster pace and take our products to new places with the help of people who had done it before. We had new resources allowing us to expand across the U.S., into Europe, and this year, in Asia, again with the assistance of people who had been there, done that. We found ourselves as a sister company to well-known organizations such as QSA-Sentinel, Magnaflux, Instron, and Avery Weigh-Tronix among others, who had world-wide coverage and structure in any part of the world that NSI could dream of going. It was an incredible situation, and one that NSI has leveraged to enter new markets we otherwise would not have explored for years, if ever at all.

So what is the message here? I guess it’s two-fold: First of all, it is truly imminent that the only thing that remains constant is change. Our environment, whether in business or anything else, is going to change and if we don’t adapt, we only fall behind. Second, and most importantly, without the help and support of good people, a story like NSI does not happen. Thesepeople can be found everywhere inside and outside of our company. Inside of NSI we have great employees who care about our customers, our reputation, and each other. I am lucky enough to see this every day and witness the passion of our team for the work that we do. Of course, outside of NSI, our customers are thefirst people we need to highlight. Without their trust and loyalty, we would not exist and we are forever thankful. We were also helped by a fantastic group of vendors and partners who transformed with NSI to best serve our customers. The list of customers, vendors, and partners is long but those reading this blog know who they are. On behalf of NSI and all of those who have been a part of this great company, thank you so much for your contribution, your patronage,and your passion. We are forever grateful.

Congratulations to North Star Imaging and everyone who has contributed to the company on its 30 year anniversary!

Wishing everyone a great 2016.


Comments (2)

  1. Andy Kinney:
    Jan 18, 2016 at 11:21 PM

    Congratulations on 30-years young. Keep up the great service tradition, have reasonable pricing and if ITW doesn't bleed you dry and you will live long and prosper.


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